Avenue 9A North #10-74, Cali, Colombia
The self-proclaimed salsa capital of the world is shedding its violent past and emerging as a destination to watch and the Now Hotel is working hard to be your boutique hotel of choice.
When you're a pioneering boutique hotel in Cali, Colombia you have a big responsibility to deliver just the right amount of hip to attract domestic travelers who are new to the boutique concept as well as boutique-a-file international travelers. Opened in 2009, the NOW Hotel has had plenty of time to get it right.
The NOW Hotel sets the tone from the moment you walk into the airy lobby, which is full of arresting touches including bright umbrellas hanging from the very high rafters, playful graphics on the walls instead of boring signs to mark elevators, and a retractable roof. The overall effect is urban, industrial, and sexy. It's the kind of space where a fashion shoot could be happening in the lobby while a business meeting is going on upstairs. Blessedly, there is no bowl of green apples in sight.
The attention to design details extends to the hotel's 19 rooms. They feature polished concrete floors and ceilings, mood lighting under the bed, wallpaper made from wall-size black and white prints, and a wall of windows leading to your own small, furnished patio with ingenious blinds that provide privacy without turning the room a cave. A four-head shower and LG Art air conditioners are nice additions. Overall, rooms are stylish and sleek without being cold or too masculine.
Some may curse the confounding remote control for the in-room lights. By the final night of my stay the remote was no longer turning anything on or off, no matter which buttons I pushed. (Yes, it could have been user error, but technical expertise should not be required.) There are also flat-screen TVs, iPod docking stations, and complimentary Wi-Fi.
In addition to a hotel kitchen, the lobby of the NOW Hotel is also home to Iro Sushi, a popular room service option and a magnet for the culinarily cool in the neighborhood, which makes for a diverse and lively lobby scene. Rates include what they call the GO Breakfast, which gives the impression that this is a utilitarian offering meant to be wolfed down fast while you’re on the go, but that’s not the case.
The GO Breakfast includes three full, made to order hot breakfast options to choose from. All come with a hot beverage of choice, fresh juice, and a bread basket. Breakfast can be brought to your patio if you don’t want to eat in the lobby.
It's hot in Cali and there’s a pool on the roof of the NOW Hotel, but don't get excited. It's covered in tiny red tiles which fits into the red/black/white décor but makes the pool seem murky and unclean. Also, the water is really cold and the pool is so small that it's only good for dipping and posing. It's best to think of the pool as a design element whose main purpose is to set a sexy mood when the area becomes a bar/lounge (and the pool closes) at 5 pm. A sauna and small spa are also on hand.
The NOW Hotel is located in the Granada neighborhood of Cali which is becoming a buzzing boutique and restaurant zone. The location is also just a few blocks from Zaperoco Bar, an iconic salsa bar that welcomes aficionados and newbies alike on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. After all, you really shouldn't leave Cali without at least a taste of salsa.
Web Address: www.nowhotel.com.co/
Total Number of Rooms: 19
Published rates: $95 - $149 including breakfast but not taxes and mandatory service charge
Review by Karen Catchpole and photos by Eric Mohl.