Puerto Rico’s capital city reverberates with history, abuzz with a burgeoning food scene, picture-perfect beaches and exuberant nightlife. Whether you are looking for old-school luxury, ocean views, a gastronomic experience or a sense of community, San Juan has a hotel for every traveler. Here are the best places to stay.
An old Hollywood favorite, the historic Fairmont El San Juan Hotel is the epitome of glamor. From the lobby’s hand-carved cherry-mahogany ceiling to the stunning hand-blown chandelier to the hibiscus scent wafting through rooms, no detail is left unattended to at this luxury resort. Sneak away from the bright, crisp rooms and beachfront pool club to neck a cocktail at the hotel’s speakeasy, Chico Cabaret.
In stark contrast to the busy streets of Ocean Park, the Dreamcatcher is a pool of Zen calm, as you might expect of San Juan’s first and only vegetarian hotel. The hacienda-style, incense-scented hotel is decked out with in-room hammocks, crystals, outdoor showers, bubbling fountains and of course, handmade artisanal dreamcatchers. Settle in for the locally sourced breakfast each morning before heading out to explore, armed with owner Sylvia de Marco’s colorful hand-drawn area map with her recommendations.
A 17th-century convent in an earlier life, El Convento Hotel now blends that authentic old-world charm with modern elegance. The bright-yellow Spanish Colonial edifice is a design-lover’s dream, with towering, arched doorways, bold mahogany-beamed ceilings and bespoke Spanish furniture that all pay homage to San Juan’s storied past. Toast the end of another day’s adventure with a sunset dip in the hotel’s rooftop plunge pool.
Built beside the sands in the Condado district, the La Concha Renaissance Resort is a dreamy beachfront playground. Soak up the sun in one of its handful of beachfront pools and, once you’ve toweled off, make for your spacious, bright-white-and-blue room, to relax before sweeping views of the ocean – the Atlantic is never out of sight. For a night out full of retro-Latino promise, head to Fifty Eight, the property’s oceanfront nightclub, or Casino Del Mar, the sophisticated lobby casino.
Step back into a bygone era of opulence and elegance at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel – known for its long list of high-profile guests (which includes Franklin D Roosevelt, John F Kennedy, Jr and, more recently, Ricky Martin). The hotel welcomes you into a striking pink-marble-adorned Art Deco lobby, and soon you’ll be in the cabana-lined ocean-view pool or luxurious Hammam spa. Grab a bite at the hotel’s famed 1919 Restaurant, which turns locally sourced ingredients into dishes with Spanish and Italian flair, paired with an extensive wine menu.
The Mediterranean meets the Caribbean at O:live Boutique Hotel, a covetable retreat with Moroccan tiling, wood-slatted walls, intriguing antiques and lemon trees. The result is a special space exuding romance and luxury. Head to the roof-deck plunge pool for views of the Condado Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean – but not before indulging in the black truffle burrata and prime filet mignon at O:live’s Sage Steak Loft.
In the heart of Condado, Casa Wilson Inn is an urban getaway mere steps away from the city’s best beaches and restaurants. Built in the 1920s, the bungalow-style guesthouse is set amid masses of lush foliage. Cozy rooms are decorated with vibrant art, evocative of the city’s vibrant culture. Casa Wilson Inn can also sort you out with adventure-gear rental, from digital cameras and snorkel equipment to bikes.
Located on the famed Calle Loíza, the head-turning blue Nomada Urban Beach Hostel delivers the unique experience of rooftop camping. Catch the sunrise and sunset over Ocean Park and stay under the stars in a two-person tent atop the standout building. If you’re not feeling the camping vibe, Nomada Urban Beach Hostel also has shared dorms and private rooms. Not to mention a sweet little bring-your-own bar.