Cra. 9 #115-30, Bogotá, Colombia
The first W Hotel in Colombia, and only the third in all of Latin America, combines history and hip design in one award-winning package in the vibrant capital city.
Bogota, the cosmopolitan, foodie capital of the country, is an apt choice for the Colombian debut of W Hotels. It's a fitting city for a brand that still bridges the gap between independent boutique hotel and hip chain better than most.
Inspired by touchstones of the ancient legend of an indigenous Muisca king who is said to have poured untold riches into a lake leading to the legend of El Dorado, the hotel riffs on gold, emeralds, and mysterious opulence. That slice of history, El Dorado‐first referenced in the 1500s—is balanced with a healthy dose of fashionable design.
Staff uniforms look less like work clothes and more like date clothes. Lighting and music are sexy and subdued throughout. Even standard rooms are spacious but the Extreme Wow Suite (called EWow by hotel staff) is an enormous spread that is the W's answer to the Presidential Suite. It has its own bar, a bathtub built for sharing and can be configured to accommodate up to 20 private party guests. From the rest of the 168 rooms, 33 of are suites of some kind.
All rooms contain Bliss bathroom amenities, extremely fast Wi–Fi, signature W Beds accented with pillows that say "Gold Digger," and key cards scrawled with messages predicting their looming obsolescence—all in keeping with the cheeky W way. There's also an indoor pool where gold flecks reflect through the water and a full-service Away Spa.
The hotel bar, called W Lounge, is a small, convivial space that has a DJ and is anchored by a 30 foot by 10 foot wall decorated entirely in graffiti. Bogota is a city known for its graffiti. The streets are full of exceptional examples (as well as a lot of the just plain ugly) and the city government even sanctions an annual competition, granting the winner a massive space and the materials to cover it.
When hotel's interior designers, New York's Studio Gaia, were looking for bar décor it seemed natural to approach the artists at Vertigo Graffiti. Over the course of two full nights of work, Vertigo artists Zas, Ospen, Cazdos, Ecksuno, DexS and Fish created a mural that circles back to the legend of the Gold King. This time, his queen is depicted lying at the bottom of the lake waiting for her king to throw his riches into the water in order to bring her back.
In mid-2015 new robes exclusively for guests in the Extreme Wow Suite were unveiled. Designed by Colombian fashion designer Esteban Cortázar, they are, of course, emerald green with gold accents. Cortázar fitted his original design with a snazzy gold clasp belt made to fit a model's waistline (or his own), but the hotel's gregarious yet grounded GM suggested the robes be provided with a more user–friendly traditional tie belt as well.
Other examples of typically W attention to detail include motion sensor floor lighting in the bathrooms and floor mats in the hotel's elevators which are changed morning, noon and evening to display a different greeting. However, the elevators are so dimly lit you may not notice this touch. The wall–to–wall mirrors mean entering the elevators is a bit like walking into a fun house hall of mirrors as well. One wonders what the effect might be after a few too many in the W Lounge.
Though the W Bogota, which was named "South America's Leading New Hotel" in the 2015 World Travel Awards, may feel a bit too cool for some travelers, there are plenty of Bogota locals who are up to the task. The W Lounge and Au Room nightclub are popular spots with Bogota residents, which makes the scene more fun for guests too. Brunch at Market Kitchen, the hotel's restaurant, is a popular weekend activity.
Unlike most hotel restaurants, the Market Kitchen manages to transform from a utilitarian breakfast room in the morning into a sophisticated dining room at night. The kitchen, helmed by Mexican chef Emiliano Rabia, works off an official W Hotel menu of international dishes conceived in conjunction with Chef Jean–Georges Vongerichten. A standout is the pulpo a la parilla (grilled octopus) which is tender and spiced with black pepper and a gorgeous, deeply green tarragon sauce. The popular slow-cooked salmon with truffle emulsion is delicious, though a bit bland to look at, and the short ribs were meaty and fall–off–the–bone tender. The sliced apple and jalapeno preparation added texture and a sweet/spicy kick.
The staff at the W Bogota is surprising young and nearly all speak English, something that's still not a given at top end hotels across Colombia. In particular, tap into the hotel's onsite W Insider. He actually knows his stuff and is able to give useful and truly insider insights. He tipped me off to the recent opening of a restaurant called Nueve Mil, just a few blocks from the hotel, where a 25–year–old chef is doing really innovative things—the perfect marriage of the shared interests of a hip hotel in a very hip city.
Web Address: www.starwoodhotels.com
Total Number of Rooms: 168
Published rates: $120 to $450.