Privado Boutique Rooms: Chic Value in Historic Cartagena.

Self-service hotels are trending these days and Privado Boutique Rooms in Cartagena’s historic center is a good example of the model. Stylish, chic and historic, it has a lot going for it. And, with fewer staff and sans amenities like a restaurant, pool, gym, or lounge this Cartagena hotel can keep its prices a bit lower than some of its competitors.

Exterior of Privado Boutique Rooms in a quiet section of historic Cartagena.
I found it to be a little like staying at a friend’s when they are not there. Plus, it provided a different sort of stay from other interesting new hotels that have opened in nearby neighbourhoods.

What Makes the Privado Boutique Rooms Self-Serve

On a recent stay at Privado Boutique Rooms, my booking was made in advance online. A digital version of my passport was required via WhatsApp. Then, within 48 hours of my stay, I received the access code to the front door and my room. This was because there was no front desk or lobby.

From the exterior, the 11-guest room hotel looked like it had once been a private home. There were balconies on the second floor and the architectural design was the same as many ancient houses on the same, quiet street.

With the access code in hand, I had a smooth entry with the push-button pad on the front door. Just in case I had any difficulty, a manager was waiting inside the door. She also kindly showed me to my room on the second floor.

A traditional, colonial-style building, the interior featured thick stone walls, tiled floors, and a tiny courtyard with a fountain. Be warned, though, there is no elevator or anyone to help you with bags.

 

Styles and Contents of Privado Boutique Rooms

There are Standard, Superior, and Superior with Balcony rooms to choose from. Plus, there is a Junior Suite with a Queen bed and sofa. The Deluxe Suite has a Queen bed, a living room, and two sofa beds. All have flat-screen TVs, free Wi-fi, ceiling fans, and adjustable air conditioning. On the second floor was a common area at the top of the stairs with a couch.

Rooms have high ceilings and tiled floors at Privado Boutique Rooms hotel.

My Superior room had a high, vaulted wooden ceiling and one small window with adjustable blinds. Instead of closets, there were two clothing racks and shelves. A small table held a city guide, plus there was a glass, refillable bottle of filtered water beside each side of the Queen bed.

The bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom. A glass shower was fitted with a rainwater shower head and in one corner stood a vanity with a vessel sink and black stone countertop.

Both the bedroom and bathroom had doors out into the hotel hallway that were fitted not only with the original wooden door but an inner clear glass partition that sealed in the air conditioning. In traditional structures like this, the open courtyard makes air conditioning the entire building impossible.

It was a good workaround. Cartagena, being close to the equator, has a constant temperature of 80-90F+ with plenty of humidity. I could control the temperature in my room and made it just right for sleeping. 

 

Important to Opt for the Breakfast Package

Although there was no restaurant, I had opted for the breakfast package which included a voucher for the restaurant Candé, just a few blocks away. Privado is owned by GELA Grupo Empresarial Llamas Arenas. The hospitality enterprise owns Candé, as well as several other restaurants and charter boat businesses in town.

Privado Boutique Rooms offers breakfast vouchers at restaurant Candé.

Candé had an eclectic colonial décor, mashing together bits and pieces from traditional homes producing a pleasing and lively atmosphere. I had gone by at night and knew it was extremely popular for dinner, but in the morning it was surprisingly quiet.

Breakfast was mostly Colombian choices such as beef rib soup, Cartagena pastellated rice with chicken, pork, potatoes, vegetables and rice cooked in a bijao leaf (a common roadside plant), mini egg arepas (ground maize dough) stuffed with beef, crispy chicharron (pork belly) with fried yucca, and the Coast breakfast with scrambled eggs, hogao (tomato onion sauce), grilled costeno cheese, sausage and fried plantain or yucca.

A breakfast of mini arepas stuffed with egg and minced beef at Candé.

There was also a delicious mixed fruit plate with watermelon, pineapple, and mango. Rich Colombian coffee and juice washed it all down. My voucher was worth COP 80,000 and easily covered the a la carte prices of a full breakfast.

 

A Few Amenities are Available on Site

Although Privado Boutique Rooms did not have a restaurant on site, it had a coffee machine, and coolers filled with soft and alcoholic drinks. You paid first with a credit card on a touch screen. It adds some convenience, since there are no mini fridges in the room. If you crave a cool drink, it’s the way to go. One problem I had was the ice machine wasn’t working. Another was a faulty Nescafe coffee machine that produced watery beverages. In the morning, I found it was better to wait and experience Candé’s excellent brew.

Eclectic decor in the hallways of Privado Boutique Rooms.

Some Interesting Rules at Privado Boutique Rooms

There were a few interesting rules I encountered at Privado Boutique Rooms. Children under 18 and pets are not allowed. Smoking anywhere on the property is a no-no. Plus, if someone in your party is not registered at the time of booking they are not allowed into the building. I also learned that it is forbidden to receive “serenatas” or any type of musical group or band inside the property.  Cartagena is a very musical place, so I guess this has come up in the past.

 

Rates at Privado Boutique Rooms

The standard Queen room is $140 US per night. Suites go for around $265 US per night. You can compare rates at Booking.com or Expedia. A deposit is required to guarantee the reservation and if cancelled there is no refund. You can pay an extra fee (around $20 US) for the flexibility to cancel or modify your reservation up to 15 days before arrival. 

 

Hotel feature by Toronto-based travel writer Maureen Littlejohn. Photos © Maureen Littlejohn. ProColombia arranged for her stay as she researched a larger piece. As always, her thoughts and opinions are her own.

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