This is the eleventh in a series of posts chronicling my January 2018 trip to Colombia. You can read an overview/preview here.
I stayed at two different hotels over my three nights in Bogota, the Artisan D.C. (a Marriott Autograph Collection property) and the Hilton Bogota. Both stays were very positive, and the hotels are a few blocks away from one another in the Chapinero/Zona G/Rosales neighborhood. I probably had a slight preference for the Artisan as it managed to combine the best of being a boutique with a full-service chain property, but both were excellent. Because so much time has passed and I’ve had a lot going on and didn’t take good notes, I’m not going to be able to do a separate review of Bogota itself, but feel free to ask any questions you have. Also, I will be posting a video on my Youtube channel in the next few days – which already has 30 videos from my travel around the world.
First, I will mention a bit about the immediate neighborhood of Zona G, as it applies to both properties. Whereas Carrera 7 is the busier road for cars and a main thoroughfare, as a visitor you’ll be better off spending time on Carrera 5, one block east and just past the Artisan. There are tons of restaurants and bars on the street, and it was a really nice neighborhood to walk around. The offerings include a Starbucks and some fast-casual places, all the way up through high-end restaurants. There’s also a 24-hour drugstore, and a location of the Carulla supermarket.
My first night I had a great dinner at Julia, a pizzeria/bistro with a few locations around the city. It was pretty crowded, but I got a seat at the “bar,” which really was the kitchen, next to the brick oven and the counter where everything was prepped. Everything is cooked in the brick oven, including the eggplant parmigiana appetizer. It was pretty reasonably priced – I had a yummy pizza, the app, a beer, and a glass of wine for 80,000 COP, about $30. I thought about only eating half the pizza and taking the rest home, but I was on vacation after all.
On night three, even though I really wasn’t that hungry after noshing at the Hilton lounge, I found myself at Monsieur Cucu, a higher-end French-Colombian fusion place that was well-reviewed but was disappointing. It was also empty at 9:15pm on a Saturday night. I had thought it would be expensive, but it wasn’t at all. Entrees were about $10 – the same price as cocktails. Perhaps I ordered poorly, but I was underwhelmed with my dish, which was a bland chicken breast with some vegetables, and a sauce served tableside.
Bogota as a city is very spread out, and the tourist attractions are clustered in the south-mostly in La Candelaria, the historic center. From Zona G, I took Uber, and it took about 30 minutes. Most of the gay nightlife is in Chapinero just a bit south of Zona G, and you probably can walk, depending on the hour, or take a car. Now, onto the hotels.
The Artisan D.C.
I have never stayed at one of Marriott’s Autograph Collection properties before, but I feel like this hotel was the perfect example of one. For one of my two nights, I used my annual Chase Marriott Visa free night, and for the second, I booked a package that included a 60,000 COP food and beverage credit (~$22). It apparently is unclear in Colombia whether foreigners are always exempt from the hefty supplemental tax, or only if they buy a “package” – so a lot of Colombian hotels have enticing “packages” like this. This was my first true stay as a Marriott Rewards gold member (I’d had some stays at Protea properties in South Africa which only half-participate in the program), and I was very impressed.
The hotel itself is rather unassuming from the outside — a tall, narrow brick building on a block with some office buildings and other small hotels. It’s hard to spot when you’re driving up, and there’s no driveway or anything, but a bellman ran out to help me with my bags when my taxi pulled up. Check-in was exceedingly friendly, and the interior of the ground floor was swank sleek. There wasn’t really much of a lobby, but there was a bar, and then a separate restaurant that I’d describe as quasi-garden like (and will discuss further). As a Gold member, he told me I had received an upgrade to what I think was a “Studio” room, and that I also had complimentary breakfast from 6am to 10am.
The hotel has two towers, each with only a few rooms per floor. I was in the farther tower, on the second floor, which wasn’t ideal as it looked into the office building across the way (which I only realized after giving the workers an unintentional show). But the room itself was beautiful- clean and modern, but also having a ton of character. It was a pretty large room. As you walked in, there were two side chairs and a table, as well as a desk facing the window. Then there was a king-size bed facing a small armoire. There were blue stencils on the ceiling that matched the accent pillows on the bed. The room had hardwood floors and exposed brick walls decorated with local artwork, which reminded me a lot of the Protea Victoria Junction in Cape Town.
The bathroom was just stunning, with blue tile floor and a walk-in shower with decorative blue tiles. At the sink was a live plant, and high-end vetiver toiletries, as well as two pairs of slippers.
One concern I had about the hotel was the gym, but it was actually more extensive than I’d anticipated. Located on the top floor of the other tower, it had four cardio machines, and one multi-exercise weight machine, along with hand-weights. On both of my visits, I was the only guest, so the small size doesn’t matter much. You can also walk out onto a walk-around balcony outside the gym. The view isn’t spectacular, but better than nothing. The only real design flaw was that the television in the gym is positioned that you can’t see it at all from any of the machines.
Breakfast was served in the restaurant adjoining the lobby, Osaki, which is an Asian restaurant in the evenings. In the morning, though, it was a fairly standard hotel breakfast space. It was actually very different on each of the two mornings I was there, as there was construction on day 2 which caused the whole buffet to be moved and limited the seating area. Both days, though, there was extremely friendly service. There was a relatively small buffet, with pastry, fruit, eggs, make-your-own-waffles, and cheese and meat. In addition, you could order omelets and pancakes from the server. The omelet came with a little potato cake as well.
On my second evening, I had my dinner at the hotel bar, “The Cooper,” in order to use up my food and beverage credit. The only real seating is at the bar itself. There was a fairly large menu of sandwiches, salads, and ceviches, but I just did a burger. I also tried one of their signature “Cooper” cocktails which was waaaayy too sweet. The bartender then mixed me up a different drink that was Jameson and pear and was more my speed. Room service was also prepared in the kitchen behind the bar, and I saw one of the strangest orders ever: a salad, fish, and 2 glasses of hot milk.
The only negative I had about the hotel was noise. Somehow, the way it was built meant you could hear both everything in the hallways, and also the pipes in the rooms above. Although there were only two other rooms on my floor, one of those rooms had very loud guests who woke me up as they returned drunk at 1:30am. There were also some small holes in my sheets, but I prefer that to blood, as I experienced at the Radisson Blu at Dublin Airport!
Checkout wasn’t super-smooth, as the food and beverage credit wasn’t taken off, and I had to give them my printed-out confirmation to show I had booked it. It wasn’t an argument or anything and everyone was nice, but still not great. There was also the hotel “Seguro” fee of 10,500 COP (~$4) – for insurance apparently – which I’ve read you can ask to be taken off, but I wimped out.
The Hilton Bogota was about a two-minute walk around the corner from the Artisan. The Artisan was very expensive that night, but I found a good price for the Hilton using Club1Hotels, a “membership” site that lots of bloggers were pushing a year ago in an affiliate link deal, which I have rarely found to offer meaningful differences in prices from other online booking sites. It also has an incredibly user-unfriendly interface. But for some reason, it had the Hilton for about $62, whereas the Hilton site was well over $100. Some other sites were closer to $80, and I tried to get Hilton to do a best rate guarantee match but failed.
Trying to get the hotel confirmation from Club1 Hotels or Hilton was a huge process and involved several phone calls. At the time I was a Gold member, but since I knew I would be leaving early the next morning, I wasn’t so worried about getting elite benefits, and assumed I wouldn’t. I was not able to add my Hilton Honors number to the reservation in advance, but when I went to check in, the agent asked if I had one. When I did, she recognized my Gold status, and gave me a shopping bag with two free water bottles. She also said she’d find me a room, even though it was only 12:15pm.
The hotel is a fairly large, bland corporate Hilton. There was security out front the whole time, including a very good dog, sniffing every car. There was a wedding and other events in the ballroom at night, and the guests I saw seemed to be predominantly business travelers. The room actually wasn’t ready yet, so the agent suggested I sit in the Executive Lounge and wait. At that time, there wasn’t much on offer, but an attendant offered me a soft drink of choice, and there were some pastries and breads. I didn’t actually have a chance to check it out for breakfast the next day or the restaurant breakfast included in my rate, as neither started until 7am and I had to leave before then. I did, though, check out its “Happy Hour,” from 5 to 730pm, which I’ll get to later.
It was spacious, but sparse, and didn’t have any character whatsoever. There was a large king-size bed, a big L-shaped corner desk (perhaps too big), and then an armchair and ottoman by the window. The TV seemed smaller than standard, but perhaps its because it was on a weird floating shelf thing instead of a dresser.
There was a lot of construction going on at the property, which I’d seen on the Hilton website. The gym had been “relocated” during construction, so I just followed the signs. What I didn’t realize is that the gym had been relocated outside – on a balcony next to the lounge. They got a lot of equipment out there but it was pretty cold to be in shorts and a tee-shirt outside, so my workout did not last long. It was…weird.
After an aborted workout, I went to the lounge for its “Happy Hour,” which was actually pretty impressive, with more than enough food to serve as a dinner. There were salads, finger sandwiches, some meat stews, and desserts (which looked better than they tasted, as often was the case). An attendant came around with wine, and there was also a self-serve full bar. It is a small lounge and was fairly crowded, including a table of a Univision news crew, who were very chatty. At least the Gringo among them was complaining about Trump.
In the morning, checkout was quick and painless. There were croissants and coffee at the front desk at 5:45am which is a nice touch. In all, a fine stay at a rather bland Hilton.