San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an intoxicating combination of imposing fortresses, rainbow-colored houses, cobbled streets and lively late-night bars serving up every flavor of mojito imaginable. Choose a beach hotel if you’d like to spend time on the sand in the Caribbean sunshine, and dip into vibrant San Juan for shopping and sightseeing. We’ve rounded up the best hotels for you, now bookable with Culture Trip.
A Puerto Rican institution, the Fairmont is 10 minutes from Old San Juan on the Isla Verde Beach, voted the Best Urban Beach in the USA. Pampering is paramount here, with four pools, a three-level fitness center and a lavish spa, where treatments include a heavenly Alpine arnica deep-tissue massage. You won’t go hungry either: restaurants include a family-run pizzeria and the renowned Caña by Juliana Gonzalez, serving authentic Puerto Rican dishes.
Get back to nature at this chic resort on a former coconut plantation near Luquillo, in the foothills of the El Yunque National Forest. Lakes, nature trails, jungle hikes and the Espíritu Santo River are all on the doorstep for outdoor exploring with the resident naturalist, while smaller guests can sample birdwatching, turtle feeding and treasure hunts at the kids’ club. There are also art classes, tennis clinics, a spa and two whole miles (3.2km) of pristine beach if you’re looking for something a little less adventurous.
Barefoot luxury is second nature at this elegant 1950s resort on a former plantation where no building is taller than a palm tree. Rooms come with indoor and outdoor showers, oversized soaking tubs, walk-in wardrobes, Bose wireless speakers in the bathrooms and Nespresso machines. Elsewhere, there are cooking classes, an infinity pool overlooking a pineapple garden, a spa with treetop treatments and its own traditional healer, as well as the largest wine cellar in Puerto Rico, with some 690 labels.
Make the most of the Puerto Rican sunshine at this Condado Beach resort right on the sand. As well as the beach, there’s a spa and an onsite casino, where guests can try their luck; or you can soak up some rays by the palm-tree-lined pool, with sweeping ocean views, a bar and a water slide. There’s also an ice cream shop, a Puerto Rican coffee house and an international buffet restaurant that hosts a special event each Friday, serving traditional dishes such as roasted pork and mofongo (mashed plantain) with local cocktails.
If the kids need more than a beautiful beach, they will be spoilt rotten at the Caribe Hilton. It has a huge pool complex including a children’s fountain pool, an outdoor playground, a games room, tropical gardens and a bird sanctuary. There’s also a packed schedule of activities on offer every day, including sandcastle building, fish feeding and hula-hoop contests. Just make time to sample a fruity piña colada by the pool – especially as the drink was invented at this very hotel in 1954.
This landmark Puerto Rican property is one of the best hotels in San Juan. Built by Frederick Vanderbilt in 1919, it’s attracted visitors including Errol Flynn, Charles Lindberg and President Roosevelt. Now grandly refurbished and featuring 323 guest rooms and suites, the hotel still draws the glitterati to its upmarket casino, spa and hammam, martini bar, cigar lounge and sumptuous fine-dining restaurant from Michelin-starred chef Juan José Cuevas. Guests are even attended by a private butler on the beach, delivering snacks, sun cream and fresh towels as required.
Worried you’ll be bored by lazy beach days? At this resort near Old San Juan, there’s plenty to occupy even the most reluctant sunbather, including an onsite casino, a huge fitness center and nearby watersports opportunities including sailing and scuba diving. You can even borrow a complimentary Linus Bike to tour the local area. When hunger strikes, choose from seafood fine dining, Puerto Rican specialities and even an ice cream parlor.
Food is the focus at the only vegetarian hotel in San Juan, with just nine delightful rooms and three suites. The hotel is renowned for its organic and locally sourced breakfasts and brunches featuring homemade hemp milk, as well as its four-course vegan dinners prepared by visiting guest chefs. Decorated with ethereal dreamcatchers throughout, the hotel also offers yoga and meditation classes, bicycle rental and nature adventure tours away from the most touristy offerings on the island.
Looking for somewhere different to stay? Book into one of the best all-inclusive hotels or read our comprehensive guide on where to stay in San Juan. For something extra special, check out these spa hotels in San Juan and book now on Culture Trip. To inspire your itinerary, we’ve compiled the must-visit attractions to see in the city while you’re here, along with the best beaches. If you’re planning day trips don’t miss our guide to the most beautiful destinations in Puerto Rico. And for the best start to your day, savour one of the top breakfast and brunch spots in San Juan.
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