We've just returned from a 5 night stay at the Charleston. I was in Cartagena for a convention and thought I'd spluge a little and stay in what was supposed to be the best hotel in town. I'm not a very demanding guest, but so many things went wrong it's clear there is a systematic problem with this hotel. Four examples:
1) On check-in we arranged for two tours and was told we'd be contacted about details. The first one went off without a hitch, but we were never contacted about the second one. By the time we asked, all spots were taken. As a result, we missed a full-day trip to the Rosario Islands.
2) The air conditioner in our room caught fire and belched black smoke into the room. The smell made the room uninhabitable and lingered in our clothes for days. The hotel wasn't very concerned about moving us to another room, (after a mechanic fix the A/C of course). We had to wait an hour in the lobby before moving to the first alternative, which wasn't as good as the original (didn't have a desk I could work at). I then suggested an upgrade might be in order for our troubles. They moved us to just another standard room (which at least had a desk, but no desk chair). Lost three hours messing about, what with waiting and packing and unpacking again. An excellent hotel wouldn't have made it clear they were sorry for our inconvenience and wanted to make sure we felt taken care of. They didn't and we didn't.
3) The laundry didn't return a good shirt that I sent to them for cleaning. When I asked if they could find it and return it to me, they said they would, but never even got back to me with a 'sorry, we can't find it.'
4) It wasn't uncommon to get a long way into breakfast before getting one's coffee or orange juice. Once morning I ate my breakfast and left without ever being offered something to drink.
It's a lovely hotel and it's nice to be able to stay inside the old walled city. But while the hotel building and location may be 5-star, the service certainly isn't. The staff seem overwhelmed and undirected, (even though the hotel was nowhere near full when we were there). As we checked out, the couple in front of us were dealing with their own issues with the hotel, which seemed to involve having asked for a quiet room and being given one facing the noisy plaza next door instead. Again, 3-star service. And there are lots of hotels in Cartagena that will give you that for US$150 less per night.
Just to add some positives here. We left a moderately expensive pair of earrings in the room safe when we changed rooms, and they were brought to our new room by an honest chambermaid. And the breakfast buffet is very, very good.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa is located whithin Cartagena's walled city, a UNESCO World Heritage site. With a privileged location that is blocks away from the Cartagena Convention Center and just minutes away from the contemporary city, the history, flavor and mystique of Cartagena are all found here, at our hotel. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Charleston Hotel Cartagena
- Hotel Santa Teresa Cartagena
- Santa Teresa Cartagena