If you’ve traveled to Bogotá before, you’ve likely experienced some of its famed rites of passages: Gliding up Montserrat in a cable car amid cinematic fog to take in a view of Colombia’s bustling capital city from 10,000 feet above or marveling at the thousands of glittery gold artifacts in the Museo del Oro. You’ve probably ordered coffee from a hip café in a country that’s been caffeinating the world for two centuries and sampled tangy and tart exotic fruits—there’s so many grown here, you could try a new one every day of the year and still not get your fill.
But in recent years, Bogotá, an energetic, always-evolving city, has staked its claim in the design world, too, consciously leading a slow fashion movement. It’s a natural extension of Bogotanos’ artistic identity and complements the country’s existing commitment to preserving folkloric handicrafts.
Behind doors that appear residential are high-fashion showrooms, maker’s markets and lingerie boutiques—you just need to know where to find them.
Ahead, discover this stylish side of Bogotá.
Where to Stay:
Consider the Chapinero Alto neighborhood to be Bogotá’s new capital of cool, a trend-setting creative district where tourists mingle with locals.
In the heart of the neighborhood and behind an arched azure blue door is the arty HAB Hotel. Head to the bar to check in and grab a bright, fresh-pressed lulo juice. This 58-room boutique gem from design-savvy husband-wife team Nicolás Vergara and Ana Maria Calle was constructed by combining three bygone spaces: a former hotel, an empty lot and a home for nuns.
Today, it’s a jewel-toned maze of surprises, from a lush, but low-lit garden with fronds in a petite courtyard; art-decked halls with geometric pieces; and the HAB Cafe’s patio with woven chairs and string lights.
Unlike sunny Cartagena, Bogotá is moodier. The “sober tropic” design aesthetic at HAB reflects that, with some English influence in the architectural mix, too. “We wanted to mix this sober vibe with some more vibrant tropical design,” says Vergara.
The hotel is also a micro museum of sorts with a spotlight on Bogotá artists: Venus White crafted the warm orb glowing pendants strung at varying heights in an entry stairwell and Pablo Tamayo’s geometric pieces and portraits blend technology with laborious traditional art techniques.
Where to Shop:
Art-influenced fashion reigns in Bogotá, which could easily be considered the fashion capital of Latin America.
For traditional Colombian accessories, explore the maker’s markets, like Artesanias de Colombia, where you’ll find hand woven bucket bags; filigree jewelry that’s made from thin, twisted metals; and vueltiao hats constructed with arrow cane. (For Disney fans, many of the objects were featured in “Encanto.”)
At the two-story Kuna Mya, shoppers will discover Colombian provisions and cocktails on the first floor and alpaca ruanas, beaded jewelry and other souvenirs in the upstairs boutique.
Bogotá is also bursting with contemporary shops. Jewelry designer Paula Mendoza has a Bogotá showroom with her sculptural ear cuffs and bold gold earrings on display. Mendoza’s long list of celebrity fans include Kylie Jenner, Zendaya, Venus Williams, Tracee Ellis Ross, Beyonce and Alicia Keys—to name a few. She recently collaborated with J. Crew on a line.
In the same building, Suki Cohen sells her high-end lingerie and swimwear, including bathing suits with unexpected necklines, laser cuts and high-end fabrics that are soft to the touch. Stateside, one of Bogotá’s most famous designers Esteban Cortázar recently launched an exclusive collection with Rent the Runway.
In the Quinta Camacho neighborhood, A New Cross’ slow-fashion collection is minimalist and monochromatic with timeless and gender-neutral pieces that have flowing silhouettes. The Bogotá brand, which was awarded as the Best Guest Country Designer at the Fashion Trust Arabia awards, collaborates with artisans throughout Colombia.
For homeware enthusiasts, a visit to Verdi’s textile studio shows artisans at work, orchestrating hand-built looms, weaving fiber and knitting metal in a beautifully chaotic process. The artisan brand creates plantain fiber and copper thread curtains, silver-plated handbags and fique and metal rugs.
Across the street from the workshop in an unassuming building in an industrial neighborhood is Verdi’s showroom with the photographic Tree of Life that’s made with a copper trunk and flowy fique threads.
Where to Eat:
Set aside a morning to eat your way through the Paloquemao Market, where you’ll find local fruits and vegetables, rows of flower shops and plenty of vendors selling fresh-squeezed juices, pastries, stews and more.
At Hab Hotel, the Hab Cafe is a gathering place for locals and tourists alike who come for Colombian-inspired dishes and ingredients, many of which are organic and grown on their own farm in Guasca, Cundinamarca. The menu rotates, but includes dishes like empanadas stuffed with shrimp, lamb, pork belly or cauliflower and cheese, as well as fresh fish, lamb dishes and a beetroot-based vegan burger.
To experience Colombian gastronomy, Leo offers a 13-course, nearly 3-hour tasting menu in a contemporary space that almost feels like a museum. Sync up your tasting with a fermented drinks menu that’s influenced by Colombia’s various landscapes and regions. Chef Leonor Espinosa recently was named the Best Female Chef in the World and was recognized for her “Ciclo-Bioma” concept that’s based on finding innovative ways to incorporate little-used species into a new kind of modern Colombian cuisine.
Enjoy a celebratory meal at Calle Dragones, a subterranean restaurant with Moulin Rouge-like performances and Cuban dishes with Asian flare.