Calle del Cuartel 36-77, Cartagena, Colombia
Every few years in Cartagena the boutique hotels being built seem to get better. Those that opened at the turn of the decade need to continually up their game and Ananda Boutique Hotel remains one of the best.
The name reflects the Sanskrit word for “state of bliss.” A defining global theme runs throughout Anandá and you will see it immediately. It screams of well-traveled collectors who picked up African head masks, Moroccan lampshades, Balinese teak furniture, and Indian Buddha statues in their journeys. Old white stone walls—the most evident feature that you’re in Cartagena—are paired with dark wood and seagrass and splashes of bright colors like red roses and dozens of potted green plants.
The main courtyard is anchored by a raised platform that doubles as the restaurant patio, with water underneath it. A large almond tree provides considerable shade. The second courtyard holds the main pool, which is surrounded by two-level white stone walls on three sides. A small bar area—try the Limonada de Coco or Hierba Buena—connects the two courtyards. The rooftop patio with a city view has a small pool and sits near several large terraces filled with cozy daybeds. At sundown the scene can be lively, though the hotel stays quiet for the majority of the day.
Nearly all of the 24 suites open onto inner courtyards, though several two-level Luxury Suites have street side balconies. The décor and amenities of all of the rooms is uniform: wood beamed ceilings, dark brown wood, white cotton, red weavings, marble floors, Egyptian linens, wood floors, walk-in showers with teak plank floors, 42” LCD TVs, DVD players, Satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, and Flor de Agua bath products.
The four deluxe suites add a living room and higher ceilings, while the four luxury suites all vary in size (70-99 square meters/750-1065 square feet) and shape (some have whirlpools, others private terraces). The price of the larger rooms is only slightly more than the standard suites, so they’re worth the slight splurge if available.
The first level restaurant has beamed ceilings and doors that open onto the main courtyard. In design the restaurant is as cultured as some of the better-known restaurants in the Centro Historico, though the Caribbean Mediterranean menu is small and better for snacking and drinks than a full meal. The cooked-to-order breakfast is a real treat, especially if you can snag a courtyard platform seat in nice weather, and it is included in the rates.
Compared with other boutique hotels in Cartagena’s old city and in the same price range like the Tcherassi Hotel & Spa, the Anandá holds its ground and maintains prices on the lower end of the scale (even for the larger suites). It’s larger than these other hotels, though the attention to nearly every possible aesthetic detail—almost to a cliché—is equally as impressive.
Original review by Nicholas Gill, updates and photos by editor Timothy Scott.