Carrera 1 No. 5-01, Bocagrande, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
This towering hotel is not in the historic center of the city, but the seaside location and comprehensive service are a draw for many.
The InterContinental Cartagena opened in 2016 and is designed to make the most of its waterfront location. All rooms have an ocean or bay view. The large infinity edge pool seems to merge right into the Caribbean in front of the hotel. The hotel's restaurants offer many tables with pool and sea views, plus you can see the water from the gym and executive lounge.
The downside of that seaside location is that this hotel is not in the architecture, history, and food-filled heart of Cartagena, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984 and the core of the tourist area of this city. The beauty and attractions of colonial Cartagena are a ten-minute taxi ride away from the hotel and, at the time of writing, no free shuttle was offered for guests.
Rooms at the InterContinental Cartagena are so generously sized that some feel like apartments. Executive rooms, Corner Suites, and Junior suites average 960 square feet and even Classic rooms are serviceable with an average of 370 square feet. Ample desks, large bathrooms with lovely Agraria amenities, robes and slippers, and more than enough space for clothes and personal effects add to the comfort level. Suites also have bathtubs and kitchens.
Room 2614 is the hotel's Presidential Suite. Actor Will Smith recently lived in this suite for a month while filming Gemini Man in Cartagena. It offers two bedrooms and a round jetted tub with sea and city views.
Book a suite or a room on floors 23 through 26 to enjoy access to the hotel's Executive Lounge. Located on the 15th floor, the lounge hosts a nightly happy hour between 5 pm and 7 pm. Drinks, snacks, and lovely sunset views over the sea are all included. The lounge also offers snacks, refreshments, coffee, and beer all day, a meeting room for up to eight people, and a separate breakfast service.
The hotel's gym, open 24 hours, is also on 15th floor. You'll find two stationery bikes, treadmills, step machines, free weights, balance balls, and more sea views. A hotel spa is currently in the planning stages but in-room massages can be booked.
The included breakfast buffet is varied, the coffee is good, and you can choose to take your breakfast at tables around the pool overlooking the Caribbean. Guests can also reserve a special 5-course tasting menu dinner (24 hours' notice required) featuring dishes like watermelon salad with feta, arugula and pink salt, bittersweet octopus with plum and hoisin sauce, shrimp with tomato and avocado, and crusted white fish filet with potato, cilantro and saffron.
By far the best meal I had at the hotel was the poolside barbeque lunch with a full range of meats and seafood grilled fresh to order.
If any of this sound like standard big box international luxury hotel stuff, know that the InterContinental Cartagena is not as cookie cutter as some. Vibrant art throughout depicting local crafts (bead work, textiles, etc.) and hand carved wooden fishing canoes purchased from area fishermen, cleaned, and displayed around the property channel a bit of Colombian coastal flair.
While this sleek high-rise is not going to give you the historic Cartagena walled city experience, it's a good choice if you'd rather get views of the water and sunset, along with a spacious room stocked with all the expected InterContinental amenities.
Web Address: IHGCartagena
Total Number of Rooms: 285
Published rates: $132 to $1,500 double occupancy including breakfast
Review by Karen Catchpole, photos by Eric Mohl.