Say hello to DXB's most exotic haunt

If Buena Vista Social Club were to visit the sandpit, Hotel Cartagena would be where you'd find them...
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Say hello to DXB's most exotic haunt

We knew we were on to a good thing back in March when we first wrote about the impending, kaleidoscopic launch of new Dubai haute spot, Hotel Cartagena. Landing on the top floor of Business Bay's JW Marriott Marquis in a flurry of glitter and palm fronds, the restaurant and bar has since gone on to assert itself as a pretty solid option for a party brunch, a fun mid-week dinner (if you like feather boas) and the go-to place if you're partial to sipping a fruity beverage out of a pineapple which - let's be honest - is most of us, isn't it?

Joining forces with luxury florist Forever Rose, throughout August it's celebrating the wonderfully exotic-sounding Feria De Las Flores - the Festival of the Flowers - that takes place annually in Medellin, Columbia - Pablo Escobar's old stomping ground, although that's by the by.

Honouring the festival by offering a fragrant menu, Hotel Cartagena totally immerses you in... erm, well a hybrid cabaret version of Brazil via Cuba. They say: "Latin America without borders." We say: how very inclusive. Think Picanteria Ceviche, Caribbean Prawn and Octopus al la Parrilla in a setting where flamboyant, sequin-clad dancers in outsize feather headdresses rumba past your table. You'd have to be made of stone to not want to get up and join them - or at the very least, do some barely disguised jigging in your chair.

The brilliantly conceived backstory to Hotel Cartagena is that it is owned by the seductive and fabulous Mrs Buendia, who inherited the 'hotel' from her late husband, calls everyone darling (presumably in a thick, exotic accent), and promises an "eclectic bohemian paradise [that] is a shrine to all those who have lived, loved and dined within its four walls."

The real hero of the piece, however (other than the chef - hats off, your coconut ice cream was exceptional), isn't Mrs B - it's Vlad the GM, who we recommend you seek out for his war stories of the golden age of club owning in central London and his exceptionally warm welcome. We don't think it would be warmer - or more fun - in Cartagena itself.

Photos: Supplied