Some people travel to Colombia for its Caribbean coast, while others hit the historic streets of Medellín for a Pablo Escobar-inspired tour. But few book their trip for the accommodations alone. Although Colombia’s reputation as a cartel enclave is long established, it’s only in recent years that the country transitioned from political discord to a South American hotspot. It’s no surprise, then, that Casa Legado—a boutique, seven-room stay in Bogotá—has become reason enough to visit the country’s capital.
Away from the bustling city but close to world-class restaurants and museums, Casa Legado is situated in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Quinta Camacho. Known for its 19th century Spanish-colonial architecture and local art scene, it was Quinta Camacho’s undeniable charm that caught the eye of interior designer Helena Davila and confirmed her vision of transforming a once family-owned home into her dream hotel. What resulted is a retro, ‘50s-inspired property awash in eye-popping wallpaper, patterned tiles and embellished with antique and contemporary treasures.
At first glance, you can tell Casa Legado has a different vibe from its neighbors. In fact, you’d be forgiven for not knowing you were walking into a hotel at all. It feels quiet, discrete—a modern-day incarnation of what we’d consider a bed-and-breakfast to be with a heavy emphasis on cool design, lavish amenities, impeccable service and communal spaces. There’s no uniformed hotel staff walking the grounds, no official lobby and the check-in desk is actually a refurbished ice cream cart. Guests have the option to rent out the house in its entirety or just a room or two, depending on their plans.
The idea for the hotel, Davila told me, came from a need for change—to create something that would have her in constant contact with new people and could become a place for her to share her personal style. And so, she set out to acquire a property that told a story. In this case, it’s the tale of past, present and future generations of Davila’s family.
“The design process was pretty special and I did everything with my mother who is also a great decorator and truly passionate about design and architecture…” Davila said. “Casa Legado was a way for me to show gratitude to all the people that have made my life so meaningful.”
Translating to “house of legacy or heritage,” Davila restored the Colombian home to its former glory, making sure it had enough space for at least seven guest rooms and was protected by the country’s conservation laws. Each of the rooms take the name of Davila’s nieces and nephews and are uniquely inspired by his/her personalities. The aspiring journalist, Lucho, emotes a tranquil, peaceful energy and the room comes outfitted with a king size bed and outdoor terrace with a whimsical hammock for lounging. On the other hand there’s the beautiful and rebellious Valentina, whose bathroom is just as artful as the bedroom and features mosaic tiles sourced right from Bogotá. Davila layered them in a way that covers not only the floor, but up the shower walls for an infinity effect. The Santiago has a black and white motif to represent her nephew’s discipline, but Davila accented the walls with a daring toucan wallpaper as an ode to his more humorous side. Luisa comes as a breath of fresh air with tropical detailing on the walls, suspended shelving and a treehouse-inspired aesthetic.
The main living areas, of which there are three—El Jardín, Lina’s Fireplace and El Solar—take the shape of an actual home. Whether in alcoves or on tables, almost every item of furniture and decor inside Casa Legado was sourced from Davila’s relatives in order to “have a piece of their soul in every corner.” Guests can curl up in front of the fireplace on a cool night with a warm blanket and cocktail, explore the indoor courtyard inspired by Colombia’s countryside or pick some fresh fruits and veggies straight from the garden.
There’s no restaurant, but the dining room and kitchen are open to guests 24/7 with a complimentary breakfast buffet every morning. Guests are welcome to unlimited snacks and beverages during their stay, including Casa Legado’s house-made bread and world-famous coffee. Aside from the fully-stocked pantry, pre-packed picnic baskets are also available upon request for a trip to the park or lunch in the garden, and guests also have the option to eat their breakfast in bed or dinner in their room. If you want to channel your inner chef, Casa Legado will provide all the ingredients you need to cook your feast. “It is a truly exclusive and personalized experience for everyone. I always say that we have breakfast with strangers and end up having dinner with friends.”
The nature of Casa Legado’s appeal isn’t mysterious—it’s vibrant, youthful and unlike anything else you’ll find in Bogotá. All of the details throughout the hotel, which only accommodates 17 guests at a time, have been effortlessly executed and some additional, thoughtful touches include complimentary bike rentals, umbrellas in the case of bad weather, Thai massages and in-room yoga classes.
From the moment guests make their reservation, Casa Legado will assign them two hosts who are responsible for knowing everything they need to before arrival, including things like dietary restrictions or special requests. The hosts will also arrange airport transfers if necessary. For Davila, the most important aspect of her hotel is the family-style service. “I have always been a natural host and the member of an incredible family who brings people together,” she explained. “I love pampering people so without knowing, I have been practicing the art of service.”
Due to its deeply tranquil setting and intimate capacity, Casa Legado doesn’t make you feel as hotels often do. You come back from a day of city exploration and head straight to the soaking tub with homemade bath salts; you spend three hours at the dinner table sharing stories with strangers; you drink wine by the fireplace, and then catch a late-night movie in the garden. The days feel long, and a week passes by all too quickly.