W Hotels has, for several decades, been at the forefront of style and fashion, and its design, art and music-focused hotels around the world have been a favorite of Marriott Bonvoy fans. When W Bogota opened in the Colombian capital, it ushered in a new era of “cool” for a city that has been flourishing in recent years as a safe, affordable and culturally rich destination. This is the second of South America’s W hotels (the other is in Santiago, Chile).
Americans will find that their dollar stretches particularly far in Colombia making it a great place for both business and leisure travel. Bogota’s many museums, its old town and bustling main square, famous coffee culture and a growing restaurant scene make it a must-visit city in South America.
Here are five reasons why W Bogota should be at the top of your list.
The legend of “El Dorado”
The hotel’s entire design concept follows the famous legend of El Dorado, a regional folktale that involves an ancient tribal chief who would cover himself in gold before jumping into a lake to wash off. The buried treasure was said to be found at the bottom.
You’ll notice subtle nods to gold, buried treasure and nature everywhere you look in the hotel. The lounge and lobby shimmer in gold strings suspended from the ceiling as if you were passing through golden waves. These represent the beads of gold as they fall to the bottom of the lake, which is the main story of El Dorado.
In the entry foyer, golden butterflies fly along an accent wall. Guest rooms continue this theme with metallic hues, gold accents and colorful mosaic tiles in the shower and bathroom. You’ll want to learn more about this famous legend, and the city’s Gold Museum is the perfect place to discover more if you aren’t already familiar. It will help you appreciate the hotel’s décor as well as notice references to El Dorado all throughout Colombia.
Elsewhere in the hotel, the low lighting is meant to be like you’re entering a gold mine. It is actually very much a clubby feeling that will appeal to younger travelers. Even on the wellness floor, the look is sleek and energizing. There’s an indoor vitality pool with massaging gets, an enormous gym with studio for classes and full-service spa using local products. The fitness room is open 24 hours a day, and the spa has very affordable prices by North American standards making this an ideal way for a “staycation” or spa weekend.
Its new concept restaurant Jairo serves three meals a day focusing on Colombian cuisine using as many local ingredients and recipes as possible. The hotel sees it as a tribute to local Colombian farmers. It starts with a beautiful breakfast spread serving everything from arepas and empanadas to international egg dishes. Healthier options include acai bowls and a tempting spread of local fruits. It is an excellent way to immerse yourself into the local food culture learning about the different fruits and vegetables indigenous to the area.
Later in the day, the menu switches to a mix of healthy salads, tasty sandwiches and some very creative Colombian fare. Vegetarians are not forgotten at W Bogota and the culinary team can get very creative with the food they create. Even the serving ware is something out of a design magazine and very fitting for a W.
A locally inspired salad that mixes guava with celery, truffle, nuts, blue cheese and fresh greens is not to miss.
Regular “night brunches” are a huge favorite of locals and guests. They include bottomless drinks and an enormous number of food stations spread throughout the hotel. The desserts and pastries alone are works of art. For only $38 with bottomless drinks including what it calls the “best gin and tonic station in town,” lively music from different DJs and a huge variety of local and international food.
Also, there’s a traditional Sunday brunch popular with families. For special events, groups or couples can organize the “chef’s table” experience where the chef prepares a surprise menu with guests watching from his private hotel kitchen. It’s another entertaining way to learn more about Colombian cuisine and culture.
At the center of the lobby lounge is a circular bar piled high with colorful ingredients that the mixologists use to make a variety of delicious cocktails and mocktails. Many include local fruit, flowers herbs or vegetables as their base. Beer and wine are on the menu, too, and locals flock here for after-work drinks and snacks. A new lounge menu is in the works for tipplers to satisfy their hunger pangs in between sips. If it is anything like the restaurant menu, it won’t be your average bar food.
The W Bogota is known for its regular special events, or “happenings” as it calls them. They include an eclectic mix of culinary and music experiences, drawing interest from the neighborhood.
There’s also BBC Cerveceria, part of a local chain, that is next to the main restaurant serving all kinds of local craft beer. It has a menu of burgers, sandwiches and salads to accompany it.
Coming soon is a new Nespresso coffee bar and lounge on the street level. It will open this spring with coffee-themed drinks and light snacks. The hotel is located in the trendy Usaquen neighborhood. Surrounding it are office buildings, restaurants and shops that make the area come alive at all hours.
Popular music is always playing from the gym to the lobby. Music is an important part of the W brand (it even hosts an annual music festival at a different property around the world). T W Bogota has its own music curator that helps design the soundtracks for the hotel. He also plans regular programming, including bands and DJs who perform in the lobby lounge. There is a permanent DJ table in the lounge, too.
The hotel has hosted drag brunches, fashion shows and other events. This cements its position in town as a trendsetter for locals and visitors alike. Graffiti from a local artist in the lounge adds a youthful and urban touch.
Guests can even order up drinks and tunes from the hotel’s “vinyl menu.” It’s essentially a cocktail menu that pairs craft cocktails with popular music. You’ll find drinks drawing inspiration from when the hit songs were at their most popular. The staff will deliver the drink to your door with a record player to listen to the selected music.
Speaking of the accommodations, these are not your average hotel rooms. Sure to be the most exotic in town, they are curvaceous and colorful spaces. Expect cushy sofas by the floor-to-ceiling windows, flat-screen TVs suspended from the ceiling and open-plan bathrooms. Many of the suites have great soaking tubs facing the windows. On the way is W’s new line of Davines toiletries.
The design of the beds with their fabric canopy stretching around the top fits the narrative, too. It is evocative of the raft that the Muisca king used in El Dorado to traverse the lake. Yes, the story line of this famous legend continues in the rooms.
Like other Ws, the rooms each have clever names like Wonderful (large), Spectacular (larger) and Fabulous (on the top floors). Suites include names like Marvelous, Fantastic and Wow suites, most with separate living areas. The floral fabric patterns in the Extreme Wow suite represent the natural scenery of El Dorado’s Lake Guanavita.
Sometimes, hotels are actually the inspiration that makes us want to visit a new place. W Bogota is a prime example of that. It appeals to curious travelers looking to discover a culturally rich and affordable destination.
Ramsey Qubein is a freelance travel journalist covering hotels, cruises, airlines, and loyalty programs from around the globe.