We visited Hostal Nicolas de Ovando (HNO) in late Jan 2013 and finally got a chance to seat down and share my experience; it's a tad long, but you might find it useful if considering this hotel when visiting this beautiful island and city.
HNO enjoys a great location, with historic architectural beauty, and a Four Star atmosphere. Most of their clientele is European or Argentinean and on business travel; therefore, you will not come across friendliness overabundance. Their breakfast buffet, while slightly overpriced; it's very good. Their a la carte breakfast is even better (pricy), but inconsistent. If one asks for an egg white omelet, with tomatoes and cheese one should get the exact same omelet every time; however, not the case here. I ordered three omelets on three different occasions, each time it was different. Their orange juice is exquisite, as well as their mojitos, order it with Imperial Rhum (Francisco makes a very good one).
Staff: The front desk staff does really well welcoming you into their hotel; very professional and polite service. I found the female staffers to have a higher standard of professionalism than the males. Whenever I phoned the front desk for service, if a male staff answered the phone, nothing was to get done. For example, on my arrival the room safe, containing all of my valuables and documents, would not open; I called the front desk for assistance around noon, wanting to get out of the room and enjoy the city, nothing happened for 2 hours. I called back, a female member answered and within seconds a technician was at my door for support. Something similar happed with the water heat and pressure, no assistance if a male answer the phone, ever. On a separate occasion, I called to extend my stay as I liked the hotel atmosphere and didn't want to venture to another; talked to a male member, "he" has nothing available and recommends to check online or the next day, I called back a few hours later and spoke to a lady (Mildred, I think - she was great!) and she added the nights without hesitation. Bottom line, the male members of the front desk staff need more training.
The hotel: The hotel pool is a nice option to your day; having breakfast and lunch by it was a nice change of pace. Their restaurants have limited meal options, but nice choices. Their room service never had pizza when we called and their 24 hour room service closes at 1:00 am, which confused me given their name. The grounds are beautiful and well maintained. Their rooms are very different from each other some too small others quite spacious. We stayed in room 3021, which it was small, but typical size if you frequent NYC. This room has a small rest room; if you are tall, the toilet area will not work for you as they have built a column right in front of it, forcing you to get sideways to get anything done in there (hot water and water pressure were a problem, too). Then we stayed in room 3016, very spacious and beautiful windows and architecture. Unfortunately, there was a wedding right outside our room which made it difficult for us to rest. The different rooms where confusing since they were total opposites and we paid the same fee for both; which begs the question, what are we really paying for?
Extras: The hotel has great choices of Dominican rum and some good choices for Scotch and wine. They have no Bourbon and no ginger ale (both very rare in the whole island, which I found interesting). The town inflates their prices as soon as they realize you have an accent or look different than they do. The cab from the hotel charge approximately a 300% markup, if you are (or feel) adventurous, go down the Atarazana plaza and negotiate a ride there. Please, pay attention to your bill; if paying in dollars, you will notice they change the value of the dollar. For us, they change it from the standard rate of US$1= RD$40 to RD$35.00; pay attention and use your card if you don't have enough change. Also, tip is usually included at 10%; if you get great service, feel free to tip more. Unfortunately sometimes they try to tell you tip is not included, but you can see it on your bill.
More: The location is close to El Conde Street; a pedestrian mall with local art, eateries, and culture. Get there by leaving the hotel, making a left as you exit one block to your left; it is closest if you leave through the hotel’s restaurant. Try Sagafredo (the one on the left-hand side of the street) for some inexpensive deliciousness. Also, check out the Plaza Colon and the church, just down the Conde st. Leaving the hotel and making a right, you'll see the Panteon Nacional, a must in my opinion. Also, the restaurants down the Plaza Atarazana are pretty decent (all viewing Columbus son’s house). Try the goat osso buco at Pat'e Palo, but avoid their "staff meeting" in the middle of the day, which absorbs all of the wait staff. At Mamajuana, share the Pork. At Angelos, try their cheese pizza and salads. At Grillo Bravo try their seafood kabobs or their Fish and risotto plate. If you have the time, try each restaurant on different days. At night, try Pacuba, just down the street or take a cab to Adrians in el Malecon for some of the best Dominican Mofongo, also with good mofongo and away from all the “touristy stuff” is Lincoln Road, good food on a nice part of the island.
To sum up, great hotel staff (females), great location, with plenty of choices to eat and things to do; if you venture too far of a walk at night it can be a little "iffy" in parts, but that’s part of any developing country. You will enjoy your stay here, just be flexible...
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- In the heart of the colonial quarter of Santo Domingo, set among remarkable buildings, stands the Nicolas de Ovando hotel, the former home of the Governor of the same name, a contemporary of Christopher Colombus. Built on the first paved street of the New World, where beautiful Spanish ladies strolled to display their rich costumes, the hotel's guests will enjoy an outstanding stay in a unique place where the stones, patios and fountains will take you back in time. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hostal Nicolas De Ovando-Mgallery Hotel Santo Domingo