We have stayed in cheap hostels, luxury hotels and everything in between. After approximately 20 countries together, and countless hotels, it’s rare that we walk away from a resort or Hotel thinking “wow, we want to come back.” We are the types who want to experience a different resort and country every time and we never return to the same place twice. The exception is Hotel Casa San Agustin in Cartagena, Colombia, a boutique hotel of 30 guest rooms and suites.
Hotel Casa San Agustin is in a great location within the walled city of Cartagena, right on Calle de la Universidad. Upon arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by classic colonial architecture and a friendly doorman, who whisked our bags inside. After walking through amazing iron doors and beautiful inner hallway surrounded by potted plants, we were sat down at the front desk. While Keith and I checked in, the staff gave the kids huge bowls of ice cream to distract them. Score! I can’t remember the last time I checked into a hotel without “Mom” “Mom” “Mom” ringing in my ear. The check in area was remarkably cool, in contract to the oppressive heat outside, and check in was a pleasant experience with friendly people, actually sitting down in comfortable chairs.
Once checked in and after the kids had their fill of ice cream, the front desk manager walked us to our room. Along the way, she gave us a mini tour of the hotel, pointing out the restaurant and bar, Alma, set in a beautiful colonial courtyard, the swimming pool, the solarium and the pool bar. Despite being a boutique hotel, Hotel Casa San Agustin in Cartagena has everything you need.
The hotel is an elaborate maze of colonial architecture, a mix of old and new. Housed in 3 whitewashed Spanish colonial houses, some walls with original frescos, every room has centuries-old wooden beamed ceilings and perfectly appointed furnishings. Colombian sculptures, beautiful vases and large stone bowls encasing floating flowers decorate the hotel throughout.
On the way the room, we walked past our favorite place to be on vacations, the pool. Set in the traditional colonial courtyard of the building and L-shaped, the pool is surrounded by flowering plants, towering trees and 5 perfectly plush lounge chairs . A tower of pristine, rolled towels was set out for guests to dry off with. A large bowl with floating purple flowers was near the chairs. An actual ancient aqueduct cuts directly over the center of the pool in an arc, which swimmers can swim under. It was beautiful and truly one of the most unusual pool areas I have ever seen in a hotel. Unbelievably peaceful and quiet.
We definitely thought that the entrance lobby and pool/courtyard area was spectacular….and then we opened our room door. Wow, is all I can say. A large, comfortable living room, again perfectly appointed, a small sitting area with a dining room table and chairs and a bar with a sink and refrigerator. Just off the living area was a huge bedroom with a large armoire and a gigantic bathroom with double sinks. Beautiful architecture and a lovely mix of old and modern design. Right next to the dining area was an metal winding staircase leading up to an even bigger bedroom and bathroom, with a balcony which overlooked the living room. The kids were thrilled with their own bedroom. And actually, so were mom and dad.
We spent one night at dinner in Alma and we are so glad we did. We were a little nervous dining in an upscale restaurant with kids, but the host and servers made us feel perfectly at ease and both the service and food were delightful. Even Zoe’s “plain pasta” was perfect without a spec of sauce anywhere, just the way she likes it. All of our meals were excellent and the atmosphere was lovely and relaxed. Definitely one of the best meals we had during our visit to Colombia.
In addition to the amazing accommodations, Casa San Austin service was impeccable, helping us set up a tour, offering to show us the way to the nearest hospital when Keith ripped off half of his toe (story for another time) and serving us lunch and drinks at the pool quickly. Not only that, but the staff was friendly and courteous, greeting us in halls and joining us in engaging conversation. I really can’t say enough about this gem of a hotel. I’ve been recommending this boutique hotel to all of my clients interested in visiting Cartagena.
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