Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena in a Nutshell:
Located in Cartagena’s historic town center, just a short walk from the Caribbean Sea and a turreted wall that once deterred pirates, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena is housed in a former 17th century convent. While retaining some of the stunning arches, colonnades and other elegant features of the original building in its older wing, this five-star hotel also features sleek, contemporary design within its rooms and suites.
The hotel sits next to the home of Nobel Prize for Literature Laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and it features in his novel Of Love and Other Demons.
For aficionados of the whimsically portly figures in Fernando Botero’s artwork, the Santa Clara boasts an ample sculpture by the Colombian amid its lush, fragrant, tropical gardens, and also a suite designed by the artist.
Guest Rooms at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
Sofitel combines the brand’s French refinement with Colombia’s local culture. Rooms and suites contain contemporary furniture and some have their own balcony. Sizes range from standard rooms to junior suites to expansive suites, some of which are bi-level. Some accommodations feature romantic four-poster beds, deep designer bathtubs and Hermès amenities in marble-lined bathrooms. In the Presidential Suite designed by Botero, glittering chandeliers adorn high ceilings, light streams through soundproof windows overlooking the pool, and Botero paintings decorate walls.
Dining at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
The hotel’s gourmet restaurant, 1621, features local ingredients accented by Sofitel’s French roots. Reserve a table in the outdoor area, where tall palm trees and lush greenery surround and a sprightly resident toucan might just jump onto your table to greet you.
To quench my thirst, I was offered coconut lemonade that I ordered again and again during my stay. For dinner I enjoyed crab and avocado salad that featured fresh seafood topped with passion fruit vinaigrette. Fish tartare was prepared tableside from locally caught bass combined with mustard, onions and capers. A sommelier can suggest excellent wines to accompany meals.
The hotel also features El Claustro, where an expansive breakfast buffet includes made-to-order omelets, fresh tropical fruits and much more. Do taste the city's exotic fruits during your stay. My favorite was sweet granadilla, a round, yellow-orange fruit filled with dark seeds surrounded by sugar-sweet, jelly-like pulp.
Destination Weddings at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
Say “I do” in style in venues that range from Santa Clara Ballroom (a former chapel), to the magnificent So Spa terrace, to Colonial halls or in the swimming-pool area. The property is abloom with flowers, including orchids (the national flower), roses and multihued tropical flora.
An in-house planner can make a destination wedding unique through a customized event, from traditional Jewish vows to Hindu ceremonies where centerpieces crafted from orchids blossom in the shape of peacocks. U.S. couples can marry in Colombia, and it is also legal for same sex couples to do so at this destination.
Honeymoons/Romance Packages at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
The Romantic Honeymoon package features an overnight accommodation, dinner at 1621 restaurant, a spa treatment for two, a bottle of Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne, guaranteed late checkout and more. The Love & Friendship package includes one night’s accommodation, buffet breakfast served in the room, a horse-drawn carriage tour of Old Town, Champagne and more. Suite Dreams features accommodations in a single or duplex junior suite for four nights, the breakfast buffet at El Claustro restaurant, a horse drawn carriage tour of the Old Town, and then lunch at Hotel Agua on the nearby island of Baru.
Activities at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
Lounge at the palm tree-flanked pool and quench thirsts at the bar. Or unwind at the hotel’s So Spa, which stands like a temple to wellness with a hammam and rooftop Jacuzzi. A variety of standard and local treatments incorporating Colombian coffee or emeralds are available.
Nearby Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
Stroll picturesque streets where balconies with pastel-hued walls overflow with multicolored flowers to create a romantic backdrop for your honeymoon or intimate getaway. Stop at one of the many clothing boutiques (don’t neglect to buy a Panama hat
), jewelry stores that feature Colombia’s renowned emeralds
, or refresh at a juice bar or ice cream shop where exotic fruit flavors delight.
Stop by one of the cultural attractions like the Gold Museum, where exquisitely crafted pre-Colombian and other gleaming objects are on display. Then relax in the shade in one of the picturesque plazas that dot the area. Or take a guided city tour
(buy online) to visit highlights such as the Castle of San Felipe, one of Cartagena's many UNESCO World Heritage sites, and the ornate Cartagena Cathedral, which dates from the 17th century. Or ask the hotel concierge to arrange for nearby snorkeling or scuba diving, boat excursions or kayaking.
Drawbacks at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
Many staff speak English, but not all. At breakfast, I sought out the two people who were fluent in my language, but when they weren’t there, I was on my own. So if you can brush up on Spanish
before your trip, it’ll make your stay a lot easier. Remember also that things don’t always happen in a New York minute here. It’s South America, where a slower pace rules. So if you need that in-room meal right before you and your love plan on going out, make sure to order it well in advance of the time you want.
Vibe at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena:
If you appreciate a romantic hotel with Old World ambience and modern luxury set against the backdrop of an adventurous, photogenic city with warm, friendly people, this hotel is for you. Adventurous travelers, both young and more advanced in age, frequent this venue. Children are allowed but during our stay, we saw very few.
Note: August through September are the least preferable times to visit; thunderstorms and humid weather may make for an uncomfortable visit. Best times are the last week of November through just before the holidays, and from February through the beginning of April, when the dry season ushers in pleasantly warm temperatures and sunny skies.
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena Info and Reservations:
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena
Calle Del Torno 39-29
Barrio San Diego
Official Hotel Website
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As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodation and meals for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.