Allure by Chocolat
Über-chic décor and sensual luxury are reason enough to choose Allure by Chocolat, located in the historic Getsemani quarter, just steps from the Walled City. Like a cherry atop a cake, its crowning glory is its magnificent rooftop infinity pool overlooking the port. It's hard to imagine a more intimate location from which to laze in a lounge chair, sipping a delicious mojito or signature sangria and enjoying the sunset as yachts and ferries glide in and out of the harbor.
Bastión Luxury Hotel
Choosing the best rooftop pool in Cartagena is tough—but if a choice has to be made, the faultless swimming pool and lounge deck at the Bastión could take the prize. You'll find it hard to pry yourself away, and once the sun sets, the well-heeled farândula (local in-crowd) arrives, and the pool-side lounge deck ripples with excitement. Oh, and did we mention the 360-degree views? As for the Bastion's look, this luxurious gem retains many original 16th-century architectural designs while also featuring modern touches. Plus, the hotel's El Gobernador By Rausch restaurant is a world-class gastronomic experience, showcased by its signature dish of lionfish.
Casa San Agustín
Combining three townhouses in the heart of the historic quarter, Casa San Agustín is the definition of a chic and romantic boutique hotel. Here you'll find contemporary design mixed with Cartagena's distinct architectural heritage. Think terra-cotta tiles, exposed limestone walls, and an old aqueduct and cistern that have magically been converted into an L-shaped courtyard pool. No wonder it's been featured in dozens of fashion, travel, and luxury magazines. If that's not enough, Casa San Agustín also makes a splash with its 11 suites, some with jade-lined plunge pools that echo the hotel's communal pool.
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Hilton Cartagena Hotel
If you're traveling with children, then the Hilton Cartagena undeniably has the best pool in town. Actually, it's four multi-tiered pools in one, with a swim-up bar for mom and dad and a waterslide for kids. Plus, you get all the goodies of a large-scale chain hotel, including a children's play area, multiple restaurants, a business center, and awesome views from your guest room. It's also a high-rise hotel situated on a peninsula, so it offers wraparound views of the Caribbean. The negatives are that the location is a bit far from the charms of the Walled City, and the pool can get crowded in the afternoons, so choose your swimming times wisely.
Budget-conscious travelers have many options for cool pools in Cartagena. The 10-room, mid-priced Casa Marain Getsemani, proves this. Its aquamarine gem of a pool with a terrazzo-clad sun deck is centered around an open-air courtyard with azulejos (tiles) and blue lounge chairs. The owners—the Alzaté family—have infused the 19th-century Moorish-inspired townhouse with a classical Miami ambience. Take a second-floor room for a courtyard view.
Hotel Casa Villa Colonial
"Affordable" in Cartagena doesn't mean using another hotel's pool with a day-pass purchase. Instead, check into the colorful Hotel Casa Villa Colonial. This gorgeous 19th-century Getsemani gem is lent a cozy ambience by exposed brick and thoughtful contemporary décor. There's a peaceful courtyard, but here the owners have wisely added an elevated rooftop pool with all-glass rail for unobstructed wrap-around views. You can even see the top of Castillo San Felipe de Barajas.
Hyatt Regency Cartagena
Another high-rise property with a stellar pool complex, the deluxe Hyatt Regency in Bocagrande, promises to make mermaids (or mermen) out of its guests. It offers all the 5-star features associated with Hyatts worldwide, but you'll also find the cascading triple-tier infinity pool complex on the 12th-14th-floor terraces overlooking the ocean. Bonus points here for the poolside restaurants, the in-water lounge chairs, the kids' pool, and the fact that the lap pool really is designed for would-be Olympic swimmers.
If trendy is your thing, then head to the Miami-swank Movich. The sensational infinity pool on the rooftop terrace with views of the Old Town will make you feel like you've conquered Cartagena. It's pure luxury, so enjoy cooling dips in the infinity or an adjoining plunge pool between bouts of baking in the sun. Cool off even further with a blended coconut lemonade or stiff martini from the bar. We also adore this hotel for its superb location close to Plaza de la Aduana. Non-guests can buy a day pass to the pool and sky bar, where they can hang in the jacuzzi and mingle with Colombia's monied hipsters.
Sofitel Legend Santa Clara
There's nothing not to love about the Sofitel Legend Santa Clara, which has updated a former monastery into sublime digs oozing French luxury and charm. The hotel is a two-for-one: there's a section with fabulous 17th-century architecture, then there's a modern area surrounding a gorgeous pool ringed by palms. Get there early to snag a private cabana or lounge chair. The Santa Clara also features divine décor, a superb spa, awesome restaurants, and a VIP guest list abounding with celebrities.