Join the party in Getsemaní, the city’s center of culture and nightlife, where year-old Arsenal Boutique Hotel (from $140) offers 33 bright, spacious rooms that feature contemporary styling. In a city where hotel prices are notoriously hefty, Arsenal—with its rooftop pool and bar overlooking the Bay of Cartagena—is an affordable pick that still offers cachet.
Look for the resident toucan at Sofitel Santa Clara (from $320), a former seventeenth-century convent with terra-cotta walls and a lush courtyard. Though the property was renovated last summer, you should opt for the colonial suites in the oldest section of the building—with exposed-wood-beam ceilings, soft hues, and décor handcrafted in Colombia—since they have the most character.
Swim beneath a 300-year-old aqueduct in the pool at Casa San Agustin (from $380), a 31-room boutique hotel, housed in three seventeenth-century whitewashed mansions, that opened in 2012. Original frescoes and wood-beamed ceilings have been preserved to highlight the property’s history, while the rooms are decorated in the hues of the Caribbean Sea and feature bathrooms lined with bright Moorish tiles; some even have private plunge pools.