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Sandwiched between the Dominican Republic and the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico is a Caribbean island with a big personality. The colorful colonial houses and cobblestone streets of the capital San Juan give way to rainforest and tropical beaches and it’s suited to all sorts of vacationers, from surf trippers to families to honeymooners. Here’s our guide to the best boutique hotels in the US territory.
Popular with celebrities, the Dorado Beach Ritz Carlton Reserve offers a more intimate stay than the chain’s usual offerings. Once owned by Laurance S. Rockefeller, scion of the great US business dynasty, it offers private suites with ocean views, a private plunge pool and walk-in wardrobe. Luxury experiences you can book range from helicopter rides to kayaking through a bioluminescent bay. Top you day off with a glass of white from Puerto Rico’s largest wine cellar.
Follow the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan, between San Juan Gate and the Cathedral of San Juan Citadel, and you’ll find this Spanish colonial bed and breakfast. There are just eight rooms and the period features like vaulted ceilings, chandeliers and antique furniture contrast with the bright prints and modernist works of local artists on the walls. The hotel’s tiled private communal terrace has shaded seating areas, outdoor baths and plenty of colorful plants.
Stylish guest rooms with Spanish-inspired accents greet you at upscale Villa Montana Beach Resort. Spanning 3mi (5km) of beach, Villa Montana is home to the Eclipse Restaurant, with ocean views and antique silverware, vintage drift wood tables and retro-industrial pieces. Its offering of wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas, craft cocktails and fresh-caught fish is overseen by chef Rafael Grau. You can enjoy scuba diving and horseback riding or lounging by two swimming pools and making s’mores by the beach bonfire.
Taking design cues from the ocean right outside, Condado Ocean Club in the heart of San Juan offers 96 guest rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking either the Laguna del Condado or the Atlantic Ocean. Rooms come with Malin+Goetz bath products and plush robes. You can join the daily wine social hour at Jade bar in the lobby, one of three dining options on site, or relax by the infinity pool with a cocktail in hand.
Once named among the top 15 small luxury hotels in the Caribbean by Condé Nast, Blue Horizon combines a boutique hotel experience with luxury resort-style amenities. It’s on the oceanfront on the island of Vieques off Puerto Rico’s eastern coast and you can admire the waves from the infinity pool. Restaurant options on site are plentiful – the Carambola brunch is legendary – or you can hire a Jeep and go and find a secluded bay for a romantic picnic.
El Blok hotel in Vieques looks different from your average island resort. Designed by award-winning architects including Nataniel Fúster, the exterior is inspired by the coral reefs just offshore and allows plenty natural light to flow in. No two rooms are the same at this intimate, adults-only hotel. There are three dining options on the property including La Tertulia, a street-level lounge that began life as a place to gather after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017 and now hosts dominos tournaments and some of the best live music on the island.
Imagine staying in a private, 1,500sqft (139sqm) casita with its own plunge pool, overlooking a cliffside golf course, 200ft (61m) above the ocean – that’s Royal Isabela. On the northwest coast of Puerto Rico, these 20 freestanding villas also have their own terrace and guests have use of a library, tennis courts, a fitness center and two miles of beach. Open air Croquet Bar has golf course and ocean views and serves craft beer, tapas and tropical cocktails, while Jota Restaurant uses the resort’s own herbs, fruits and vegetables in its food and serves cheese from local artisans. Surf lessons can be booked through the hotel.
Alyssa Morlacci contributed additional reporting to this article.