Unless you’re a Spanish colonial history buff, you might not have ever given Cartagena de Indias a second thought. But thanks to a prime location on the Caribbean and a quaint, well-preserved colonial center, this port city has always been a popular escape for Colombia’s beautiful people — thanks in no small part to atmospheric boutique hotels like La Merced, a restored 18th-century mansion on a historical downtown square.
Stepping into the lobby, it’s clear that the mansion retains its structure — high wood-beamed ceilings, exposed brick archways. The renovated décor is light, airy, and streamlined, filled with crisp white sofas, large potted trees, marble side tables, and smooth tile in shades of sand and cream. Likewise, the eight guest rooms and suites are bright, uncluttered, and done up in natural hues. The wood furnishings, straw-woven objects, and floor-to-ceiling balcony doors pay subtle tribute to the mansion’s original style, while the smooth white linens, high-tech desk lamps and cherry-red throw rugs add a contemporary edge.
The largest suite includes two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a dining room, in addition to a stunning private terrace with a Jacuzzi and ocean views. Breakfast is served all morning at La Merced; for the rest of the day, guests are on their own to explore the old city (the hotel provides bicycles), hit the beach, and rub shoulders with vacationing Colombians over fresh fruit cocktails at night.
From Rafael Núñez International Airport - approximately 20 mins.
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