Usaquén, Cra. 18 A # 104 – 77, Bogotá, Colombia
In the heart of the cultural scene in Bogotá’s vibrant northern suburbs, this mid-size brick hotel features twenty large rooms each designed by an up and coming Colombian artist. Even if you are not cool, you feel it here.
While the majority of the big name chains and the luxury restored colonial hotels in Bogotá stick to the somewhat sketchy downtown area or student hangout of La Candelaria—granted this is where the majority of museums and historic sights are located —104 Art Suites fronts a small park in the upscale northern suburb of Usaquén. While the big attractions are a twenty-minute cab ride away, the northern districts are home to Bogota’s thriving dining, shopping, and nightlife scene.
Opened in 2006, the hotel has become a beacon of the city’s contemporary style that is flourishing in the district. From the outside, the brick building stands out little from the others around it. The first step inside changes that. The flashy red and white wallpaper and futuristic stools of the bar/reception area is offset by a hallway of velvety red cushion walls and a dining area filed with an entire wall of gold-framed mirrors. Every space and angle has something of interest going on. The upper hallways are simple: large windows on each end with framed photos or paintings lining the brick walls.
The idea in creating the property was that the aesthetics of the art will help you enjoy your stay. Each room is unique and designed by a different photographer, designer, painter, graffiti artist, or…fill in the blank. Unless you are extremely involved in the Colombian art scene you probably haven’t heard of any of the artists, but each one pulls through. Most rooms have a white base with splashes of modern art on the walls or plastered to the ceilings. For example, room 301, designed by Santiago Monge, features almost life-size images of Wonder Woman and Playboy Bunnies on the wall. My room, 304, designed by Santiago Garcia, featured a painting and photography installation that took over one wall in the bedroom and parts of two walls in the second room.
The art in the rooms is not over-the-top though. The focus is still on the comfort and amenities of staying in a hotel; rather the art is the décor. In each room the amenities are more or less the same: a 29-inch LCD TV, satellite cable, DVD player, stereo, surround sound system, Wi-Fi, a separate room with a small kitchen, fireplace, office, and lounge area. Sport business rooms add a stair stepper, though all guests receive access to one of Bogota best gyms down the street. Penthouse suites add a Jacuzzi, kitchen, and fireplace, while Deluxe suites add a hot tub. Most rooms are limited to 207 square feet, but the larger suites have three times the space and are worth the upgrade.
Like the hotel, the restaurant is moderately priced for what you receive. Colombian specialties such as Horse steak and Ajiaco must be ordered in advance, however, there is a range of South American and international dishes including sandwiches, ceviches, empanadas, and salads on the menu. A full American breakfast is included in the price. A daily happy hour at the bar keeps a community feel to the hotel, though I never saw it overly crowded.
This might be the best value in any luxury hotel I have ever stayed in, especially for the suites. Service is superb and friendly, the rooms are clean and stylish, and the amenities are better than many hotels that are two or three times the price. One downside is you’re a bit far from the Transmilenio for getting downtown, though taxis are cheap and they have private cars waiting outside the hotel. When the hotel is full, and it often is, they have an additional 8-room property— Usaquén Art Suites—about five minutes away with slightly smaller rooms and lower prices, though many of Usaquén’s best restaurants are within two blocks of there.
If you are looking for an unusual stay in more of a thriving local neighborhood, 104 Art Suites is your choice in Bogata.
Web Address: www.104artsuites.com
Total Number of Rooms: 20, including four penthouse suites.
Published rates: $126 to $316.
Review by Nicholas Gill, photos courtesy of 104 Art Suites.