Carrera 11, no. 86–74, Bogota, Colombia
Conveniently located in Bogota's lush and bustling business district, the capital's first design hotel raises the style stakes considerably in a city whose top–of–the–line offerings have traditionally skewed more towards functional than fabulous.
Colombia's first member of the exclusive and hip Design Hotels group, Bogota's B.O.G. Hotel generated considerable buzz in February of 2012, when it became the first boutique hotel on the block in a city mostly known for multinational operated, business–oriented behemoths. Although B.O.G. attracts plenty of execs, it also gets its share of leisure travelers, not to mention weekending couples in search of a refuge conducive to romance.
The romance factor isn't immediately apparent when you pull up in front of the innocuous concrete high–rise straddling the tree– and luxury shopping–mall–lined Carrera 11. However, seduction quickly takes hold as soon as you step into the lobby, whose honeycomb ceiling glows with warm burnished gold. Like other international hotels of its pedigree, B.O.G. traffics in the hallmarks of tasteful, contemporary, designy–ness.
The lighting is soft. A lounge–y soundtrack haunts the cowhide–paneled hallways. And the reigning casual vibe is underscored by the young, attractive staff decked out in impeccable black Converse. However, what makes the B.O.G. distinctively Colombian — and distinctive period — is the brilliant decision to riff upon two of Colombia's most prominent, and precious, natural resources: gold and emeralds.
Inspired by the wealth of glitter on display at Bogota's outstanding Museu de Oro ? which reunites the largest collection of pre–Colombian gold on the planet — and Colombia's role as the world's number one producer of emeralds, Portuguese designer Nini Andrade Silva dreamed up a concept that was all about Romancing the Stones. Happily, she eschewed over–the–top razzle dazzle, opting instead for subtle hues and sophisticated sheens.
Oversized gold plates in the restaurant literally sparkle, as do the mosaic tiles of the heated rooftop pool when hit by the (all too infrequent) rays of the sun. And the presence of a gigantic close–up photo of an emerald, which dominates the small basement gymnasium, makes it difficult to focus on your StairMaster progress. Yet, most decorative accents are far more restrained; work tables bathed in glossy metallic veneers, curtains whose bronze finish turns afternoon sun into butterscotch, and bathroom light fixtures whose chartreuse glow is positively gem–like.
The B.O.G.' s 55 rooms come in three varieties. The superior rooms are a little tight and skimp somewhat on the hotel's signature design scheme. In the absence of larger spaces and more lustrous accents, the neutral greenish–greys and beiges feel pared–down, generic, and slightly melancholy. While the second–floor rooms sport sizable concrete patios where you can breakfast en plein air, those intent on privacy won't appreciate being gazed upon by workers in the ubiquitous red brick high–rises that surround the hotel.
More appealing are the only slightly more expensive business suites that occupy the corners of the eight–story building. The extra space allows for closets galore, chaise lounges conducive to sprawling in one's plush robe and slippers, and a miniature spa of a bathroom. You also get a richer infusion of gold and emerald flourishes that lift the ambiance out of the realm of pleasant, and into plush.
The most spacious option of all, the eight floor's Suite B.O.G., features a separate living room, but doesn't dare to dazzle as much as it could. While it sports enormous windows, a forest of surrounding office buildings compromise views. For the latter, head to the rooftop pool and bar, whose panoramic cityscapes, framed by green Andean peaks, are stunning both at night and during the day.
Other common spaces include a pair of basic business rooms and a wellness space outfitted with steam and massage rooms in the basement. Adjacent to the lobby is a small, but stylish bar as well as the aforementioned, and very attractive, La Leo de la 86 restaurant, where a distinctly underwhelming buffet breakfast doesn't do justice to the striking setting.
Overall, B.O.G. doesn't scrimp on extras. The bedding is 500–thread–count, towels are thick and abundant, the turn–down–service includes a (tiny) artisanal banana cake, and an expertly folded copy of El Tiempo, the national paper, can be found on your doorstep each morning. Service is prompt and courteous, but not always in English. Ultimately, however, B.O.G. is more of an upscale design hotel — with an inspired concept — than a true luxury hotel, underscoring the adage that all that glitters is not gold.
Web Address: www.boghotel.com
Total Number of Rooms: 55
Published rates: $230 to $850.
Review and photos by Michael Sommers.