Calle de Sargento Mayor N-61, Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
Designed by a Colombian fashion icon, the Tcherassi is the small hotel that everyone wants to be and be seen at. It’s sleek, friendly, cool, comfortable, luxurious, exotic, and there isn’t a stuffy air about it.
While dozens of dazzling new boutique hotels, all restored from charming brick colonial mansions, have opened in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, there has yet to be one that stands out from the rest. Until now. The Tcherassi Hotel + Spa has raised the bar significantly in the Centro Historico.
Colombian fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi designed the property and her personal touches grace every corner of the hotel. Tcherassi’s ideas are both original and completely relevant. It took a two-year renovation to bring the 250-year-old mansion to bring the property to its current state. The hotel is constructed around two courtyards, both with small pools centering them (there are two more pools on the roofdeck). White is the predominant color in the in the public areas (walls, floors, etc.); color makes almost magical appearances. In random settings you might see a red rose in a clear glass vase and the iron door that separates the outside world from the life within is plated in gold. The most obvious aspect of color comes through on an entire wall of the hotel, extending into both courtyards. It is dominated by a vibrant, green vertical garden that stands three floors high and is filled with 3000 regional plants.
The first level of the building holds the lobby, the restaurant, the bar, and the spa, while all guest rooms sit above and look down on to the courtyards, the street, and the steady stream of beautiful people coming and going below. A staff of thirty is there for every need.
The seven rooms range from 400 to 1200 square feet and each is a little bit different—and named after a different exotic fabric from Tcherassi’s collections. Each room makes use of the original stone walls, still exposed, plus high ceilings, wood floors, beamed ceilings, walk out balconies, free Wi-fi, LCD TVs, and iPod docking stations. Books about Tcherassi and her designs are there, as is a bedspread made from her dress labels and other cool décor such as lamps and do not disturb signs that Tcherassi designed. The top room in the hotel is Gazar, a three level 1,200-square-foot penthouse suite. The suite has a private rooftop pool and sun deck, plus a 250 square foot bathroom with an indoor/outdoor shower, soaking tub, and bidet room.
The 40-seat restaurant, Vera, is a gem. Chef Daniel Castaño—who worked at various Mario Batali restaurants in New York and also heads Bogotá’s Emilia Romagna—dishes out a seasonal menu of coastal Italian dishes. It’s not just a hotel restaurant, but one of Cartagena’s best and easily one of the top Italian restaurants in South America.
The hotel’s holistic spa is partnered with Spain’s Germain de Capuccini and offers thirty treatments like O2 Facial Regeneration, Chocolate Therapy and Exfoliation, Gem Therapy, and Bamboo massages.
Price-wise, the Tcherassi is not over-the-top compared to the dozen or so other hotels in its price range. There are several more expensive hotels in Cartagena’s old city. They could raise the rates and rooms would still fill up. It’s not about bringing luxury though high prices here (simple and recycled materials are used throughout the hotel); it’s more like the luxury naturally comes through the aesthetics.
Review by Nicholas Gill, photos courtesy of Tcherassi Hotel.