Carrera 13 #85-80, Bogota, Colombia
Special services for business travelers and for solo female travelers, a Golden Key concierge (one of only 10 in Colombia), and a nightly ritual that pays tribute to the chain's Parisian roots are just a few ways this hotel stands out in the increasingly crowded Bogota luxury hotel landscape.
When you arrive at the Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia, pause in the lobby and look up. Above you is an enormous circular stained glass piece that depicts the hotel's namesake, an enormous waterlily called a Victoria Regia. By the time you've come back down to earth, staff will have hustled your luggage inside and a desk attendant will be waiting to check you in-and they will all speak strong English thanks to the hotel's innovative program of free English lessons for staff members.
If you're a solo female traveler staying more than two nights, your check in will include a card which reads Women Are Magnifique (WAM for short). Yes, it felt a bit overblown to be called "magnifique" (and WAM is no better). However, this complimentary amenity is a thoughtful touch and includes the afternoon arrival of two fresh macaroons and an assortment of small jars containing single servings of freshly made beauty products like a face mask made with yogurt, cucumber, and carrot and a body scrub made with coffee, almonds, and sugar.
Even if you're not "magnifique," the hotel has many other ways of making you feel welcome. Turndown includes elegant ceramic cups with coca teabags and another macaroon. Weights, yoga mats, and jump ropes are available for in-room use, or visit the hotel fitness center which is stocked with Life Fitness machines, weights, and balance balls. With just one treatment room, the hotel's spa (which they prefer to call a relaxation area) is petite but serviceable. It offers facials (about $60 to $80 for 60 minutes), massages (about $60 for 60 minutes), and 90-minute rituals ($100 to $125).
Public spaces feel homey thanks to a program of rotating art installations which change every few months and always feature a Colombian artist. Jazz and wine nights are offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 pm to 8 pm. And daily tea time, featuring Harvey & Sons tea and sweets from the kitchen, is hosted daily from 3 pm to 6 pm.
If you're at the hotel on business or simply need to get around, a chauffeur-driven Mercedes is available for guest use, free of charge, from Monday through Friday from 7 am to 9:30 am for trips within five miles of the hotel which is centrally located in Zona T.
While those services and amenities feel very personalized, the rooms at the Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia, part of the Accor group of hotels, veer toward big box chain and can feel cramped. My Luxury King room, for example, was 330 square feet but most of that space was taken up by the enormous bed. There were six pillows on the bed, including three huge squares, one rectangular decorative pillow, and two very flat long pillows. The hotel's pillow menu offers even more options including latex pillows, down pillows, and memory foam pillows. The signature Sofitel My Bed also features a mattress fitted with a very soft top layer that some travelers find too soft and/or too warm. It can be removed on request.
Small bathrooms offer few surprises with a standard tub/shower combo, ample towels, and a frustrating sink that seemed designed to splash. Rooms in the upper categories are stocked with Hermes bath amenities. The hotel's five Junior Suites on the 8th floor do offer more space with a separate living room, plus two TVs, a jetted tub, a long furnished terrace, and complimentary Nespresso in-room coffee and tea service. It's worth the upgrade.
Breakfast, included in the rates, is a vast buffet featuring all the usual suspects (fruit, juices, eggs to order, baked goods, etc.) and a few confounding elements like marshmallows and spring rolls. For a French chain, the croissants were just passable (though breads are baked fresh twice daily at the hotel). Individual pots of French press coffee were welcome. A French Brunch, inspired by the iconic Plaza Athene hotel in Paris, is served a la carte every Sunday as part of a growing brunch trend in Bogota.
Both business and leisure travelers benefit from the presence of Yanelis Sepulveda. She is a Golden Key concierge (there are only about 300 Golden Key concierges in the world and just 10 in Colombia). This means she has the experience (gleaned during her 15-year career in the Sofitel organization) and the Rolodex to solve any problem or request you bring to her.
At 6 pm every evening, every Sofitel hotel around the world performs a Candle Ritual which involves dimming the lights, enhancing the music, and lighting candles in homage to the lamplighters of Paris who gave the city its enduring nickname: the city of lights. At the Sofitel Bogota Victoria Regia, the Candle Ritual takes place in the lobby with an elegant curved staircase as a dramatic candlelit set piece under the stained glass ceiling.
Web Address: Sofitel Hotels
Total Number of Rooms: 102
Published rates: $340 to $530 double occupancy including breakfast
Review by Karen Catchpole, photos by Eric Mohl