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“Head for the Roof”

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Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa
Ranked #17 of 155 Hotels in Cartagena
Certificate of Excellence
Medellin, Colombia
Level 6 Contributor
247 reviews
65 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 118 helpful votes
“Head for the Roof”
Reviewed September 5, 2012

On my last trip to Cartagena I'd promised myself a visit to either the Sofitel or the Charleston. Making a late booking the Charleston had notably better prices, and easier restrictions. The Charleston it was then.
I'd been into the public areas of the hotel before, but the more you see of this property the more impressive it is. Any visit to the rooftop and it's wonderful views of the city will quickly prove the point that this is a very good place to be staying. The room, a junior suite, wasn't really suite like. it was a larger room, and it had a high, high ceiling. But it was impressive.
The hotel service varied. The front desk also acts as the concierge and here life turned binary. Either you got someone who was really helpful, or you got someone who clearly didn't care. My advice, don't take the first answer you get (if you don't like it) and try when someone else is manning the desk. The airport pickup wasn't there, and 'we'll investigate'("they forgot"). Yet on an early arrival with the suite not available another room was offered until it was. No need to ask, just given - most excellent.
The breakfast in the hotel was good (better to take it on the roof than the buffet downstairs though). The hotel seemed preoccupied about a large wedding taking place. The wedding clearly took precedent over the other guests needs.
The location is good and the traffic is excluded from the city at night (not a completely good thing if one needs to get around and disliked by some of the locals).
Inside the room the was well equipped, but it's unusual - at least to North American eyes to see quite as many choices of cigarettes in the mini-bar choice. One design feature that seemed poorly thought out was the full length mirror opposite the toilet. Yes, it does make the bathroom look bigger; no, I'd rather be watching something other than myself on the throne first thing in the morning. You, seated are the only channel choice.
The bar in the hotel was good but not very well patronised.
This hotel isn't cheap, although I thought the suite good value. The standard room provided awaiting the suite wasn't as exciting, being much smaller and with far less character.
In conclusion, go for a better room, check out the roof but don't rely on the airport transfer. The hotel isn't difficult to get to by taxi, but it is an option offered on the internet booking form.
One last thought, there were some difference in the booking information that they had and that which I had entered and printed from their hotel site. In the end the differences weren't critical but I did wonder quite how they'd managed to mess that up. I'd suggest taking your booking confirmation, just in case.

Room Tip: Go for a better room. The standard ones seem square and without feature.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
4 Thank PhileasFoggontour
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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582 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (76)
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English first
White Plains, New York
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed August 27, 2012

I stayed here with my wife and 2 teenage girls and felt very comfortable. The rooms were very good and the hotel is very pretty. All the bars are good but the restaurants are a bit sloppy as they always seem to be travelling to a kitchen a good deal away from where you are eating. I had one quite terrible meal where the cerviche was just shrimp in something that was largely similar to ketchup. The restaurant manager did deal very well with our complaint on the bright side. The location is perfect and the staff were all very good indeed . the rooftop pool/bar is a wonderful place to hang out with a super view.

Room Tip: The suites away from the main part of the hotel were very quiet.
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank JPG9393
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Golden, Colorado
Level 4 Contributor
27 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 34 helpful votes
Reviewed August 9, 2012

This hotel was recommended by a business associate. The facility is very nice, and the location is as good as it gets. I stayed in two You can walk from the hotel and see most of the old town including several museums. Very good restaurants are only a couple of blocks away, I recommend 8-18 restaurant. We arranged a private tour for five people through the hotel which was well worth the money, we got a driving tour of the city with lots of history from the guide and stops at the monastery and fortress. I think I need to agree with other reviews and remark that the service in the restaurants is a poor, I found that they would respond to my requests but would seldom go beyond that. Most of the wait staff speak very little English.

  • Stayed August 2012, traveled on business
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Helpful?
2 Thank Colo_travler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
La Paz, Bolivia
Level 3 Contributor
14 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed August 9, 2012

I really recommend this hotel, first because is inside the closed city of Cartagena, which closes the car access form 5pm to 5am so you can walk through the city! The hotel is an ancient cloister of nuns, and has 2 interior patios that are breath taking! Love the decorations and preservation of the place, even though is an ancient construction you have modern to feel very confortable in a 5 star hotel!

Room Tip: i recomend to be near the patios
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Patricia E
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City, New York
Level 5 Contributor
39 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed August 6, 2012

We stayed here for a wedding back in September 2009. One of our friends getting married is from Columbia, her and her husband loved it so much on a visit they decided to get married here for obvious reasons. Cartagena is a beautiful colonial Spanish city. The hotel has gigantic rooms and a picturesque courtyard with amazing local vegetation everywhere. The food here was so delicious. They have breakfast "station" one for eggs one for Arepas and a few more for fruit and cold cereals. We had lunch and dinner here also. The food was all above average. They have a rooftop bar and pool. You have views of 90% of the walled city and Boca grande and the "new city" amazing locating for a photo shoot or just some quick pics. We loved everything about our stay at Charleston Cartagena Hotel. Highly recommended.

  • Stayed September 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Daniel M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oakland, California
Level 6 Contributor
88 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 108 helpful votes
Reviewed August 5, 2012

I stayed here for three nights. I've been to Cartagena numerous times and am aware that there is often a disconnect between what you pay for a hotel and what you get in this city. That said, I found the Santa Theresa immensely frustrating in certain respects.

First, the positives:

- The location is fantastic, close to the center of the walled city yet taxi-convenient with an exit through the walls literally in front of the hotel.

- The rooftop pool is stunning and the poolside service and amenities are outstanding.

- The spa is gorgeous.

- The grand suite I finally wound up in was spacious and well furnished.

- They deducted IVA from the bill automatically, without the need of any argument on my part.

But there were numerous negatives:

- They misrepresent their rooms. I booked a "junior suite." The first room they put me in was just a normal hotel room, perhaps 350 square feet. There was absolutely nothing suite-like about it. It had a small table with two chairs, but no other seating area. It was sparsely decorated and had one tiny window and felt dark and cave-like. I complained that this was not a junior suite; they insisted it was. They showed me another one. Exact same layout. Finally they offered to upgrade me to a Grand Suite for approx. $60 US more a night. This was a proper suite, with two separate rooms.

- No free bottled water. The only bottled water in the room carried a $10 US per bottle price tag. I consider this outrageous in a room that cost over $400 US.

- Every room they showed me faced the plaza. While this exposure included a nice view of the water and Bocagrande, there is live music in the plaza Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. On Sunday night, it went until approximately midnight; I believe it goes later on Friday and Saturday.

- Service was spotty. While some of the staff was typically gracious, others were unusually unfriendly (not at all the norm in Colombia). The staff at the front door was particularly unwelcoming and tended to stand in front of the door, blocking access. Also, as someone else has mentioned, it was frustratingly difficult to get coffee at breakfast. Quality of the breakfast itself was not of a five star standard.

- I made the mistake of eating dinner my first night in the hotel restaurant. It was ridiculously expensive and totally lacking in flavor (approx. $30 US for a piece of bland fish served with what appeared to be frozen vegetables). Service was awful. When I asked for bread, the waiter acted as if this was a huge inconvenience, then brought me some half-frozen rolls. When I pointed out they were frozen, he took them away without comment and simply ignored me from then on.

Despite all the negatives, I might consider staying here again (if the price were right) based on the location and the pool.

Room Tip: If you want to go to sleep before the early morning hours, insist on a room that does not face the p...
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled solo
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Helpful?
5 Thank acek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Okotoks, Canada
Level 4 Contributor
40 reviews
36 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 56 helpful votes
Reviewed August 2, 2012

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.

Saludos cordiales,

Gary

Room Tip: Rooms on 5th floor have the pouding of feet audible, presumably from children running around on the...
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  • Stayed July 2012, traveled on business
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank Shortstop44
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Property: Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa
Address: Carrera 3 # 31-23 | Centro Plaza de Santa Teresa, Cartagena, Colombia
Location: Colombia > Bolivar Department > Cartagena District > Cartagena
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#6 Business Hotel in Cartagena
#8 Spa Hotel in Cartagena
#12 Luxury Hotel in Cartagena
#19 Family Hotel in Cartagena
#31 Romantic Hotel in Cartagena
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa 4.5*
Number of rooms: 87
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

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