Truly a gem in Old San Juan. Was there on a three-night work/rest combination visit and couldn't be happier with the conquistador era mood evoked, the ultra convenient location and the outstanding staff in this lovingly restored 350-year-old Carmelite convent. I will be back there in a heartbeat.
Top 10 reasons why I loved the Hotel El Convento:
-Location, location, location: You can't beat the best location in town. Far enough from the madding crowd to wake up peacefully, but steps away to the action if you needed it. At once close to the forts, the bahia de San Juan, supermarket, drug stores, pina coladas, restaurants and coffee shops.
-Professional and warm staff: Had a great experience with smiles all around (for the most part), and a can-do attitude. Special props to Annette from the front desk who personally greeted me every time and was so warm that the other staff spoke glowingly of her to me (stemming from their own experience)! Special thanks to the kindness of the porters as well: Uriel and Ivan were outstanding.
-Coquis in the garden: Loved the sounds of the coquis after the tropical rains at night. A lullaby of sorts.The one time that I would wish for rain showers.
-Wine at the Manager's reception: Every day at 6pm. Really good mainly Spanish wines to write home about. At least 8 types daily compliments of the hotel. Accompanied by at least 4 types of cheese and a variety of crackers and grapes. Really good - even for a California snob!
-24-hour goodies: Hot coffee (Puerto RIcan), tea (Harney and sons), iced bottled water and a fruit basket (bananas, apples, tangerines, pears). Always replenished. Always available. Always good. Also loved the Puerto Rican sweets at the front desk. All compliments of the hotel.
-Rooftop plunge pool: Great place to cool off after a hot day of walking. Wonderful view of the Bahia de San Juan.
-Free internet. I used the cable and it worked very well in my room. The wireless can be spotty depending on your location, but good signal in the library.
-Design: Loved the old convent feel, the stained glass, the wooden beams and antique chest in my room, and the Spanish tile. Yet I had all the modern conveniences of a good and comfortable bed, a functional, modern and clean bathroom (with Aveda products), and the glass door in the room that kept the sound out if I wanted. Lovely french doors were a nice accent.
-Gym: Impressed with the small but functional gym that had eveything I needed to work off the mofongo and the Medalla beer. Available 24 hours.
-Access to the beach: Two sister properties a short cab ride away.
Things the hotel could work on: Not much really. Maybe repair some of the worn chair cushions in the room. Also, one of the front desk staff members was substantially more surly than the others. Probably would not stand out in the U.S. mainland, but because everyone was so friendly and warm, she stood out.
My top 5 Old San Juan experiences:
-Walks or runs along the old forts. Miles to explore walking or jogging. The closest to the hotel is the Paseo del Morro, but there are lots of other areas. Advise running at dawn or dusk when the light is magical, it is cooler, and the crowds are spare. The best of the forts is the Castillo de San Felipe del Morro, also very close to the hotel.
-Paseo de la Princesa. OK - a little kitch with the cruise ships in the background, but no Sunday evening is complete without a stroll down the Paseo with the locals. Lots of music, fresh juices (try the freshly squeezed OJ), crafts and delish Puerto Rican candy. When you are done, have a local coffee across the street at Cafe Cuatro Sombras.
-Barrachina. I'm a little embarassed that I made a pilgrimage to the place where pina coladas were invented, but it was so close to the hotel, and I couldn't help it - even it was further away. More formal sit down service at the tables, or you can hang at the bar where you can also get food. Try the pina colada (of course), and local favorite foods mafongo and asopao. They were expertly made there.
-The Old San Juan squares. Perfect for people watching, domino playing or dodging the pigeons. I liked the laid back feel of the Parque de las Palomas, and the convenience of the Plaza de Armas (surrounded by a decent grocery, drug stores and restaurants). All close by.
-Cathedral of San Juan Bautista. Right across from the hotel. It is the second oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere. Not grand, but has lots of character - Ponce de Leon is entombed there.
Loved my room on the third floor (311) with a partial view of the Bahia de San Juan.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.