My family and I love to spend our holidays in the historic port city of Cartagena on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The weather is always pleasant, however, November through April is perfect. We have a few favourite hotels: the Tcherassi Hotel and Spa in the old city; Casa Pestagua, furnished with 19th-century antiques, and the Hotel Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena. Nothing beats a home cooked Colombian breakfast of Arepas (stuffed corn cakes), fresh mandarin juice and tropical fruits.
Lauren Santo Domingo
I love walking around the city, it’s all navigable by foot within the old walls and there is a lot to explore, such as the Cathedral of Cartagena, officially the Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, located in the historic centre. Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas, a fortress built by the Spanish in 1536 on the Hill of San Lázaro, dominates the approach to the city by land or sea. I also like to stop in at the NH Galeria, a contemporary and modern art gallery, or we take a boat to Cholon, just 45 minutes from Cartagena, for a day of partying, fun, and Caribbean paradise. For lunch, if in town we might go to the young and hip La Mulata, a lunch spot for working Colombians and tourists alike, or the tiny but charming La Cevicheria which serves great seafood, or La Perla, a small restaurant serving great food with Peruvian influences. We might go to El Pescador de Colores, a beach club and restaurant located just 20 minutes away by boat – they pick you up and take you to the beach. You can go for lunch, cocktails, music and sunbathing.
La Cevicheria. Image Courtesy of La Cevicheria
Cartagena offers a wealth of shops, from Artesenias de Colombia, which promotes local Colombian artisans and handicrafts, to Casa Chiqui, for home and beach accessories and Hunting Season bags, and St. Dom, an upscale boutique in the Centro carrying numerous Colombian designers. We host many Colombian designers on Moda Operandi, such as Bibi Marini, Mola Sasa, Mercedes Salazar, Leal Daccarett, Pepa Pombo, Paula Mendoza, Melissa Losada Bofill and Marcela Velez of M2Malletier, Johanna Ortiz and Aquazarra. I always try to make plans ahead of time with friends and family that will be in town. I pack according to my plans and bring two extras options for a last minute calendar change.
Lauren Santo Domingo's Summer Travel Essentials
For dinner, La Vitrola is a little “see and be seen” so go dressed up, or for a more lively experience, Juan del Mar is a popular spot with the locals - don’t expect to sit and have a quiet, candlelit meal. Everyone sits outside, there is live music and the crowd is always fun, you’re guaranteed to be in good company. At the end of the evening, you may end up ordering their pizza and starting your night over again. Or there’s Alma, built in an old Colonial building, with tradition Colombian Caribbean cuisine and known for its seafood, especially ceviche, or El Baron, best for drinks, located at Plaza de San Pedro Claver in Cartagena. The space is charmed by the magic of the old city, exclusive, cosy and with an edge. Afterwards, dance into the early hours at Café Havana (it gets crowded so try to go early), La Movida, a true local club, or Café del Mar, an outdoor lounge located right on the coast.
Find out more about Moda Operandi by visiting modaoperandi.com