A Colombian Oasis in Cartagena, Casa San Agustín
February 25, 2019 by Hidden Doorways
Dispatch by: Laura Fishman
Cartagena is a vibrant picturesque city that will leave you craving more. A historical former Spanish port town set along the northern tip of Colombia, Cartagena imbues a variety of cultural influences while boasting a modern coastal metropolis, Boca Grande, reminiscent of Miami’s South Beach. Yet strolling around the old city, the Spanish colonial architecture of the XVI and XVII centuries resembles Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, Havana (with splashes of azul, magenta, lime green and yellow exteriors) and a touch of New Orleans’ soulful French Quarter flair with its wooden balconies draped with exotic flowers.
Perfect for a long weekend getaway, Cartagena is a small yet bustling city that truly has something for every type of traveler. Design lovers will be inspired by the colorful colonial doors while foodies will savor its fresh seafood (trying ceviche in Cartagena is a must) and inventive cocktails, and culture hounds will love immersing themselves in the surrounding history on walking tours through its storied calles. For those craving sand and sea, there is easy access by speed boat to the little-known gems of the Caribbean, the Rosario Islands, where the surrounding waters are extraordinarily clear and perfect for snorkeling or just for gazing at (with a rum-filled coconut in-hand!)
But where to stay? While there are many small, chic boutique hotels to choose from, Hotel Casa San Agustín is a truly romantic oasis tucked away in the heart of the old city just steps away from the bustling Juan Valdez Plaza de la Universidad, fantastic boutiques, and Cartagena’s most sought-out restaurants. Blending in to its surroundings with its white-washed exterior and colonial windows and wooden balconies, you can sense the hotel’s refined Old World charm the moment you arrive.
Comprised of three lovingly restored colonial homes dating back to the 17th century, the hotel boasts 20 unique guest rooms and 11 spacious suites. Each guest room and suite feel very private and individually styled with centuries-old high-wooden beamed ceilings. The four-post bed is the center piece of each room and is so comfortable you’ll want to turn in early for the evening. The rooms are spread amongst the second and third floors of the property and wrapped around the balcony where guests can catch glimpses of the pool and lobby. The Deluxe rooms with spacious bathrooms are ideal for couples, while Junior Suites offer a sitting area and Premium and Prestige Suites have an outdoor area with a private plunge pool. Suite Del Virrey is the jewel of the hotel, which boasts stunning views overlooking the Tower of Cartagena Public University, checking all the boxes for well-heeled travelers.
Checking in to the hotel feels like you’ve arrived at your chic Colombian friend’s own private casa where you are welcomed by its gracious and attentive staff with a refreshing fruit-infused drink. Strolling through its corridors feels reminiscent of a sophisticated Moroccan riad where there is something to discover around every corner, from cozy nooks to stylish floating floral arrangements. One cannot resist exploring the property, where you’ll find Cartagena’s most photographed (and instagram-famous) pool straddled below an ancient aqueduct immersed in an array of lush palm trees. The contrast of the aqueduct’s aging walls set against the hotel’s pristine white stone mirrors the way Cartagena’s old city is a perfect blend of past and present.
The hotel’s mystical ambiance changes throughout the day. The morning light brilliantly shines down on the pool and guests can enjoy breakfast out in the courtyard of its renowned award-winning restaurant ALMA. For those seeking more privacy, the Solarium on the roof deck is a perfect hideaway for sun-worshippers to have a morning coffee overlooking the majestic views of the Tower of Cartagena Public University. In the afternoon, guests can enjoy tea and lite bites in the serene Library adorned with 17th century fresco walls or head over to the AURUM Spa, known as Gold or Shining Dawn in Latin, for a signature treatment. The spa boasts three treatment rooms, a hammam, jacuzzi, manicure and pedicure area and relaxation area. Interesting fact: Colombian civilizations revered the Sun as an important deity and in ancient times the Sun was often thought to live in the Earth as Gold, which is the universal symbol for the highest purity and sought-after element for alchemy.
By night, the hotel’s ambiance is utterly romantic, with dimly flickering candles spread throughout the hotel’s corridors, bathing the walls in a golden glow. Begin the evening at ALMA’s Bar where the talented mixologists stir and shake refreshing and innovative cocktails with local distilled rums and spices. Here there’s a nice mix of locals and guests, while just outside there is a charming courtyard to enjoy drinks al fresco before heading in for dinner. ALMA is the centerpiece of Casa San Agustín and an internationally acclaimed restaurant. Chef Heberto Eljach celebrates Cartagena’s contemporary coastal Colombian fare with a diverse menu ranging from a variety of fresh ceviche, delicate fish, exquisite cuts of meat and savory risottos. The setting is intimate, where guests can enjoy a quiet meal in the main dining room or dine under the stars in the candlelit courtyard. Large groups who crave more privacy can also choose to dine in the private room adorned with photographs of Cartagena’s picturesque doors and local Colombian textiles. Considered one of Cartagena’s hottest restaurants, ALMA is unforgettable, and it is highly recommended to confirm dinner reservations in advance.
Graced with the luxurious amenities and well-connected Concierge, Hotel Casa San Agustín immerses guests in the allure, history and vivacious culture of Cartagena. For those looking to venture outside the old city for a castaway experience, guests can indulge in the exclusive beach club scene of Cartagena with private day trips to Isla Barú, a remote tropical island off Colombia’s Caribbean coast. Known as the ACASĪ Experience, this excursion includes a private round-trip boat charter to the exotic island and access to a private white sand beach reserved exclusively for guests of Casa San Agustín.
Additional activities include:
- Architecture Tour including Colonial Fortifications & Military Strategy
- Art & Galleries Tour
- Cartagena Photo Shoot
- Cooking classes
- Deep Sea Fishing
- Drum and Local Music Lessons
- Excursions to the Rosario Islands via Speedboats, Yachts and Helicopter
- Folkloric Dances
- Helicopter expedition to Santa Marta
- Rum, Coffee, Gin & Tonic tasting
- Personal Shopper
- Photography Workshop & Tour
- Salsa Lessons
- Scuba Diving
- Sunset Sailing
- Salsa Lessons
A member of Leading Hotels of the World, there’s no wonder why Casa San Agustín is consistently named as one of the best luxury hotels in Colombia. It is a place that feels like home yet also impresses its guests with its chic and luxurious surroundings. A true oasis in this vibrant city, you will feel totally relaxed and removed from the hustle and bustle of busy Cartagena, yet you’ll also feel like a local with the help from the wonderful team when you’re ready to venture outside to explore.
- 24-hour Private Concierge
- 24-hour Room Service
- Daily breakfast for two in ALMA
- Afternoon tea served daily at the Library
- Two daily housekeeping services
- Medical assistance
- Specialized Staff for social events, banquets and weddings at the hotel
Casa San Agustín
Centro, Calle de la Universidad No. 36-44
Telephone: +575 681 0000
US Toll Free: 855-272-1122