Bogotá is abuzz with development. New direct flights have made access to this bustling Colombian capital easier, cheaper, and more comfortable than ever before. Hotels are popping up across the city at breakneck speed (like the much-anticipated W Hotel, set to debut next year), including two of our favorite additions, personally vetted during my trip there last week: the smart-splurge B.O.G. Hotel and great-value Royal Sonesta Bogotá. And if you’re looking for firsthand tips on what to do and see once you touch down, our very own Jim Sherman has reported on some on-the-ground tips from his recent trip.
Smart Splurge: B.O.G. Hotel
Part of the style-savvy Design Hotels chain, the B.O.G. Hotel marks the first installment of the design-driven hotel group in Colombia. Launched last May, the hip 55-room hotel unfolds in Bogotá’s trendiest playground, the Zona T district, home to some of the city’s best nightlife options, restaurants, and shopping. Brainchild of esteemed Portuguese designer Nini Andrade Silva, the property’s design scheme is heavy on rich textures and colors infused with splashes of gold and emerald (two of the country’s national treasures); the architectural elements incorporate plenty of natural stone, bronze, mirrors, and tinted glass, as well. Muted bronzes, greens, and greys drench the guestrooms (14 are suites), which come equipped with a spacious desk area and funky desk chair that's covered in faux cowhide, dangerously comfy beds blanketed by 500-thread 100-percent cotton linens, and tech-friendly trimmings like digital LED TVs and iHome systems.
What’s more, the hotel lays claim to restaurant La Leo Cocina Mestiza, helmed by Chef Leonor Espinosa, one of the country’s most celebrated chefs – the lip-smacking contemporary Colombian menu is fused with international flavors, and continues through to the room service offerings, which was, hands down the best hotel room service I’ve ever had. Guest diversions continue downstairs with a fitness center, steam room, and small spa. Or, head to the 9th floor rooftop, where a heated outdoor lap pool (pictured above) and open-air bar, comes paired with more nibbles by Espinosa and panoramic views of the surrounding city and mountains. The only gripe I had with the place: The hotel is lacking dedicated concierge services, so come with a game plan in hand. Rates from $210/night include buffet breakfast, unlimited Wi-Fi, and morning newspapers – book more than 21 days and save an extra 10 percent (through Design Hotels' website).
Great Value: Sonesta Hotel Bogotá
Set in northern Bogotá, the two-year-old Sonesta Hotel Bogotá comes tucked into the Metro 127 shopping arcade (featuring more than 20 boutiques, eateries, and spa and fitness facilities), just across the street from one of the city’s premier shopping malls, Unicentro. (Shopaholics will obviously have a field day here.) The hotel’s modern design scheme touts generous contemporary art installations, many of which highlight city scenes from Bogotá, along with a fantastic vertical "living wall" to greet guests in the lobby lounge, featuring more than 250 different species of plant (pictured to right).
Relax in one of 126 rooms, equipped with LCD cable TVs, iPhone alarm clocks, rain shower bathrooms, and 24-hour room service; complimentary shoe shine service is also offered. Upgrade to a junior suite for added living space and an extra bathroom. A full-service business center, on-site restaurant (highlighting Peruvian cuisine), access to an adjacent gym, and lobby lounge round out the offerings. Note, however, that the hotel is quite a distance from the historic city center, where many of Bogotá's blockbuster attractions lie, so be prepared for long, yet inexpensive, cab rides (lasting about 40 minutes in light traffic) if you're more interested in sightseeing than shopping. Rates from $119/night, including Wi-Fi, buffet breakfast, and a welcome cocktail; kids 11 and under stay for free; book 15 to 30 days in advance for extra 10- to 15-percent off savings.
Incurable travel addict, longtime travel scribe, and mindful money-saver Elissa Richard is currently indulging her insatiable wanderlust on an epic 14-month journey around the globe – intent on making it every step of the way without busting her modest budget. Follow her along the way as she reports back with budget-savvy travel tips from the mountains of Transylvania to the wilds of Tasmania, and from the little-trodden temples of Burma to the bustling bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. A vagabond in search of value, just for ShermansTravel!