Business Travel Guide

The best hotels and activities for Bogotá business travelers.

There are so many legends anchored in the history of Colombia concerning gold — the most popular being the story of El Dorado — that upon landing in its capital, Santa Fé de Bogotá, you might expect to set foot in a mythical land. But today, El Dorado is only the name of the city's international airport. The days of the quest for gold are long gone. Any fortune made in Bogotá now is purely the result of hard work and commercial or industrial activity. Bogotá is foremost a modern business city.

During "la Violencia" in 1948, some of the rich Colonial and Republican architecture in the city was torched, looted and destroyed. Architects rushed to reconstruct, oblivious to the past. As a result, the city today is composed of heteroclitic high rises, aligned along avenidas and calles and often clogged with heavy traffic. Even at an elevation of nearly 8,400 feet (2,560 meters) and nestled in the middle of the Andes, it's hard to escape the modern feel of this city.

With a population of more than 8 million, Bogotá is home to an intense intellectual, artistic and political life. It's also the seat of many multinational companies and the strategic financial and economic hub of the country. Boasting more than 100 higher education institutions, Bogotá is South America's intellectual mecca. Colombian writers and philosophers are highly regarded throughout the continents. It's a miracle the old City — the Centro Historico — has escaped destruction and deterioration, as witnessed in the awesome La Candelaria quarter, around la Plaza Bolívar with its cobble-stone streets, imposing monuments and multitude of churches, museums, book stores and brightly-painted Colonial houses with carved doorways and sheltering eaves.

The décor reminds us that the city named after the Indian chef Bacata was founded by Jimenez de Quesada (born in Santa Fé) and became the capital of La Nueva Granada that comprised Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Panama. Following its independence from Spain, it also became the capital of Gran Colombia, which was formed from the same states. Today it's just the capital of Colombia, the Distrito Capital (DC).

Authorities contend that the city is safe — which is true if you don't wander into the southern part of town, especially at night. But indeed, at night most of the streets are empty save for the Zona Rossa with its many restaurants, clubs, coffee shops, supermarkets and hotels.

In GAYOT's Bogotá Business Travel Guide, we've pulled together a selection of the city's best accommodations for your stay, as well as attractions to visit when you're not on the clock.