We checked into this hotel after a long, hot shuttle ride into Cartagena. We thought it was a little overpriced for what it was, but is was clean and quiet and we wanted to finally sleep. The man who showed us our room told us the air conditioner took 10-15 minutes to kick in, so we turned it on, unpacked a little, and decided to walk down the street to grab dinner, hoping it would be nice and cool in our room when we arrived back.
When we got back to the hotel, someone had been in our room and had turned off the air conditioner and light. I was really uncomfortable with someone being in the room since our passports and personal belongings were in there. Not once did any of the cheaper hostels we stayed with use any pretense to go into our room. When we spoke with the owner who was downstairs at the time, she acted aggressively, to our surprise. When asked why someone had been in our room, she was angry saying it was completely normal in her hotels. My boyfriend asked her, "it's normal for you to go in our room while we're gone?" and she responded with an argumentative scolding tone, "is it normal for you to waste electricity?"
He tried explaining that first, we were paying for the room and the use of electricity in that room, and second, we wanted our room to be cool when we got back from buying dinner. She got louder and louder, accusing us of "wasting" electricity, which again, we were paying for, and said it was completely normal for her or her staff to go into the rooms while their paying customers are gone. She ended the conversation (nastily) with the statement, "My hotel, my rules." We read the rules at the front desk, and nowhere does it state that if you leave the AC on in your room it gives the owner and staff permission to enter and look around. It was an oddly shocking conversation to overhear, and based on the looks on the faces of other people staying there at the time, they were surprised as well.
I would not recommend this place to any traveler with a sense of personal privacy. The rooms are slightly overpriced to begin with, and not worth the treatment from the owner. Paying customers aren't freeloaders. There is no reason to go snooping through bedrooms under any pretense. This is in the same area as at least a dozen other hostels and hotels, and is more expensive to boot. The area is safe enough you can walk around and shop around for a better place.
This was the strangest experience I had while in Colombia. We stayed in many different places, and even stayed in another of this woman's hotels during our first stop in Cartagena (we stayed at the Casa Villa Colonial). I can tell you it is NOT normal for people to go through your room.