Sofitel Legend Santa ClaraCartagena, Colombia
The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara is very much the ‘Grande Dame’ of hotels in Cartagena’s old town – being the first major conversion of an historic building – in this case the former Santa Clara Monastery – into a luxury hotel.
Originally built as a convent in 1621 and converted into a luxury hotel in 1995, this Sofitel Legend property has 122 rooms and suites which are divided between the original colonial building and a recently constructed ‘republican style’ building. These are arranged either side of a large feature swimming pool with a fun pool bar. Part of the hotel is in a cleverly designed modern building screened by the original convent external wall. There are two restaurants – the El Claustro Brasserie and the gourmet 1621 Restaurant (originally the Clarist nuns’ dining room, with specialisms in wine and French patisserie.) The standard of this hotel is reflected in it’s inclusion in the Conde Nast prestigious ‘Gold List’.
The city of Cartagena de Indias is within a short walking distance with it’s numerous churches, squares and and colourful cobbled streets. There are plenty of open air cafes where you can bask in the splendour of this city’s past. At the end of a day sightseeing the hotel has an excellent spa associated with Sisley Paris in which to unwind and be pampered.
Overall the Santa Clara offers a winning combination of historic ambience and modern luxury, local hospitality and French style. The service is first class and for those who want to revisit the building’s spiritual roots there is a daily 6.30pm evening ‘ritual’ of lighting the candles around the cloister, accompanied by suitable plainsong chant music.