For your ears only
Very well situated in a quiet street of Cartagena’s colonial heart, the Ananda hotel has it all: a patio with tall palm trees, a small pool with jacuzzi, spacious rooms, terraces and a rooftop jacuzzi/lounge area allowing smoking. And the reputed Carmen restaurant, “one of the very best in Colombia”, underlined the concierge in Bogota.
Problem is, the Ananda hotel does not own the Carmen restaurant, from what one understood from a rather vague explanation. It’s more like they opened the hotel around the restaurant, so you are staying in a hotel, but you follow the restaurant schedule. Early start to set up the kitchen and prepare breakfast, musical ambiance by 11am, lunch clatter, music steadily uptempo during the afternoon – of course there is a bar, and a rather good one at that – diner clatter, cleaning of the kitchen, the works. Except they are a revolving team and you are on your own.
By all means book a room on the 3rd and last floor. The view from up there is nice and you will escape most of the mayhem. Avoid like the plague the first floor, where you will be either next to the restaurant or a very loud jacuzzi.
A reliable interlocutor is Sebastian at Front Desk, who by himself saved one’s stay but could not do much about Carmen. Muchas gracias, Sebastian. Or about their unimaginative breakfast, same everyday, with hardly the level of quality you would expect from an acclaimed restaurant. A most curious case of commensalism, really. If the restaurant was not considered that good (and one has reservations, see below) the hotel would be twice better…