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Charleston Santa Teresa, Cartagena, Colombia

My wife and I had heard great things about the Sofitel Santa Clara Hotel in Cartagena, but when we decided to stay there for our three nights in town it turned out only two nights were available. We were disappointed, but after just a little more digging around, a perfectly acceptable choice for our third night came to light: the Charleston.
We were not looking forward to changing hotels twice in three nights so we pursued Santa Clara to let us know if a third night's stay were to become available, but it never happened.

Fast forward to check-in: Santa Clara let us know they could now accommodate our third night.
That was perfect for us and we took the room. We got to our room, in Santa Clara, and made a call to Charleston who informed us we would be violating their cancellation policy (72 hours) if we were to take the room and would be responsible for the full $325 plus taxes and fees.

We were far from happy, but we got American Express travel services to call on our behalf since they made the reservation and figured they may be able to negotiate a courtesy since we're still more than 48 hours from our check in.
No dice. AmEx called us back to say Charleston won't budge.

So, last ditch effort is to get the hotel manager from Santa Clara see if he can work something out with Charleston for us. He called and got nowhere. Charleston would get the full amount from our credit card whether or not we take the room.
So, we took the room.

We left our beautiful, sunny, balconied room with a sea view overlooking the pool area at Santa Clara and went to the Charleston.

Our room at the Charleston was...let me try to describe it.
It was street level off an interior courtyard with an unobstructed glass door that people in the hotel could look right into. So we had to keep that closed with the blinds drawn all the while.
In the room was also a window on the street side of the building but when I opened the blinds the view was of the back of two taxi drivers' heads. This was the source of the chatter I've been hearing since walking into our room. Drivers hang out there and smoke while waiting for fares from the hotel evidently.
So, we had to keep those blinds closed tightly as well.

Basically, we had a windowless room on the ground floor. And the hotel's wi-fi didn't work in this closet of a room either.

I called and complained reasonably, but assertively with the front desk and they said they'd call me back but didn't. When I called the second time (30+ mins later), they told me the hotel was fully booked and no other rooms were available all weekend.

This is Valentine's Day, for what it's worth.

Again, I expressed grave disappointment and they blew me off just like they did everyone else.

So, then I was livid. THIS was the room I couldn't cancel at 48 hours? They're so, so busy yet they couldn't let me out of that reservation?

Was this even a real room? It looked like they moved the Business Center machines out of it and moved a bed in. Honestly, this was probably the original purpose of this area. Again, we were left to choose between natural light and privacy/security in our room and this cost us just under $400.

This is supposed to be a good hotel. Our room was *absurd*.

I could forgive the nonexistent service at the open-air restaurant out front or the problems going on there, but I'm stuck on our room.
I could talk about the smoking they allow at the tightly-packed pool lounge chairs area, but I'm stuck on our room.
I could even get into how our room for two seemed to contain one of everything, even robe and slippers, but it's really the room itself that I'll speak of for the rest of my life.

The next day we moved on from Cartagena to Bogotā.
Funny enough, in La Zona Rosa, we were faced with a choice of two hotels residing right next to each other: Sofitel and Charleston. Guess where we stayed? And loved it. Hint: It’s not the Charleston.

So, wrapping this up, I posted this same review on another travel site and the management replied with this:
"We are very sorry to hear that you did not apreciate the history that this area of the hotel represents."
As if that were the issue. We didn't appreciate the history.
Can you believe it?

All they needed to do was let us out of the reservation. No one should be staying in a room like that at regular price.

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