The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara hotel in Cartagena, Colombia exudes luxury and style while blending vintage and contemporary styles.
The hotel has quite a unique history dating back to 1621, when it was built as a convent and served as the home of the Nuns of the Order of St. Claire. About 240 years after it was constructed, the nuns were evicted from the convent and the property was transformed into a charity hospital, before it became a penitentiary and later a school of medicine. It had undergone numerous changes and sat vacant for many years when the school of medicine closed down before it was restored and transformed into the Sofitel Santa Clara in 1995.
One thing that I absolutely loved about the Sofitel Santa Clara is the history behind it and how every part of the hotel served a purpose at one point in history. For a building that predates the birth of the United States by over 150 years, the building is incredibly well preserved.
Outdoor Spaces at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara
Some of my favorite parts of the Sofitel Santa Clara included their outdoor spaces, which were well-manicured, inviting, and colorful.
I was particularly drawn to the open-air walkways on the interior perimeter of the property, which wrapped around a courtyard in the center of the hotel. The lush vegetation around the property made me feel as if I had stepped out of the city and into an urban oasis.
The colonial hallways of the hotel at one point in history were the walkways where nuns glided from room to room around the property. The beautiful orange color of the walls are immaculately preserved with based paint eggshell.
The colonial garden in the center of the hotel is surrounded by beautiful semicircular arches. In the center of the garden, you can find a water well, which was used by the nuns to store water and was a symbol of soul purification.
One of the many draws for me staying at the Santa Clara was their love for art. As a huge art lover myself, I was very impressed that the hotel housed works from famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero.
At one point, the colonial garden in the center of the hotel housed one of Botero’s famous statues called The Curvy Lady of Cartagena, however the statue has now been replaced. Although the statue is no longer on the property, the hotel still pays tribute Botero by naming one of their suites after him.
One thing that Colombia is known for is their coffee, and the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara seamlessly and ingeniously incorporates one of the country’s most well-known exports into the design of the property by placing coffee beans on the top of their trash receptacles, which I think is quite creative!
One of my favorite areas at the hotel was the pool. Before the hotel converted the area into a space where guests could lounge around and cool off from the heat of the hot Colombian sun, the area used to be an orchard where the nuns grew food for their daily use.
Dining, Dancing, and Drinking at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara
The Sofitel Legend has several places where guests can relax, grab a bite to eat, and have a couple of drinks. One of the restaurants is called Restaurant El Claustro, and it is the former bakery and kitchen of the convent. It has been transformed into a French restaurant that serves both buffet and al à carte dishes.
The second restaurant on the premises is 1621 Restaurant, which was transformed from the dining room of the nuns into a visually stunning restaurant that features new world cuisine. Additionally, 1621 has an extensive wine list with over 250 wines from the old and new world.
In addition to having several places to dine, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara also has lounge bar called Bar El Coro. Ironically, it was a place where nuns used to rehearse for choir practice that has been transformed into a space with live music and delicious drinks.
Spa Services at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara
Guests who want a full relaxation experience at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara will enjoy a trip to the hotel’s spa, which includes 8 treatment rooms, a gym, a tea area, and a solarium.
Guest Rooms at the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara
The Sofitel Legend Santa Clara has a few different styles of guest rooms. The 106 wifi-equipped guest rooms on the property include the Standard Room, where I stayed, that had 1 king-sized bed and internal views of the property. The hotel also has a Classic Room with the option of 1 king-sized bed or two twin beds, the Superior Room with the option of 1 king-sized bed or two twin beds, and the Luxury Room with 1-king sized bed.
For guests that are looking for a little more space during their trip to Cartagena, the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara offers a total of 17 suites and villas, including the Colonial Junior Suite, the Colonial Duplex Suite, the Iconic Junior Suite Legend, and the Presidential Suite Fernando Botero.
Some of the special touches that I really loved about the hotel was that it had a Nespresso machine, where I could make a personal coffee to drink in bed, a beautifully displayed plate of granadilla (passionfruit), and a fresh sunflower in the bathroom to brighten the room up.
One thing to be aware of when booking a room at the hotel is that guest rooms can only accommodate two people, and the Santa Clara does not allow more than two people in a room; so if you are traveling with a group of friends or children, you will have to book multiple rooms.
Address | Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, Calle de Torno 39-29, Barrio San Diego, Cartagena de Indias
Number of Guest Rooms | 123 Rooms including 17 Suites
Restaurants & Bars | 2 Restaurants, 2 Bars, 1 Lounge Bar
Spa & Fitness Services | 1 Spa with VIP cabins and full fitness center
Meeting & Event Spaces | 7 meeting rooms for up to 300 people
Parking | Private indoor parking
Cost | Rooms start around $300/night
Rating | 5/5 – This property had everything that I wanted from a clean, comfortable room, to friendly staff, to wonderful food. I would definitely return to this hotel in the future!
FTC Disclosure: I was a guest of the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Hotel for 1 night. All photographs and opinions about the property are my own.