The El San Juan offers an awesome vacation! Their staff is exceptional, including Carlos, who checked me in and Maria, who handled the keeping of my room. Both were attentive and caring to any needs. Take Carlos. Upon checking in, I told him that I had read some concerning reviews about what it was like to have a room close to the infamous Brava, the nightclub at El San Juan. I told him that 30 years ago, I would haven been partying at the Brava, but that I was 60 now and was looking forward to a peaceful and relaxing time at the El San Juan. Bless his heart, Carlos found a room for me on the eighth floor. He’s the best. Although even on the eighth floor I could still hear the base beat from Brava, it wasn’t that much. (For those who are unaware, Brava is the happening nightclub at El San Juan that appeals not only to guests, but to many locals in San Juan. They’re open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights starting at 10:30 p.m. and are open all night long with the music cranked up.)
My room was beautiful and very clean. The colors ranged in a compatible spectrum from cream to green, and the look was very sleek. The floors were tiled and had a striated surface to make them slip resistant. It’s easy to see why this flooring works for the El San Juan since it is easy to track sand into the room from the beach, even with the beach showers. The bathroom was adequately sized, and very quaintly decorated with small hand laid tiles throughout. Hand laid tiles is a lost art since they take an exceptional amount of workmanship, time and patience, so it was very warming to have the experience of having a bathroom with such wonderful workmanship of a prior time. One tip is to keep the folder that your room key comes in because it has a map of the El San Juan property on the back. I could find no literature in the room about what El San Juan has to offer, so I used this map as my guide.
Dining at El San Juan is wonderful, although I must admit that I only ate dinner at The Palm while I was there. The bartender during the week at The Palm is wonderful and makes a great margarita. The Palm also has a satisfying menu of happy hour “bar bites” for $5.50 a plate, such as steak sliders, chicken parmesan sliders, and other offerings. The Palm also has a great Arugula salad that I ordered each night, and wonderful crab cakes. There are a lot of people at the bar during the week, which is a lot of fun. The pool bar (Aquaire) is also wonderful. Eric there makes a great margarita, and Aquaire also has a bar menu during the day.
El San Juan has three higher-end restaurants (The Palm, which offers steak and seafood; La Piccola Fontana, which offers Italian food; and Koco, which is Japanese.) El San Juan also has a small, attached shopping area to the left of the entrance to the hotel called the Galleria. In the Galleria is Galeria Pizza and Trattoria, which offers more moderately priced breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The attached Galleria also has a convenience store and souvenir shop (Viaggi) that sells everything from clothing souvenirs, to sundries, small cups of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, to a small selection of wines and beers. You name it, and Viaggi has it.
For breakfast El San Juan has La Terraza, which is a relaxing restaurant with both an enclosed dining area and a dining area in an open air terrace that overlooks the ocean and pool. I really enjoyed the experience of having breakfast on the outdoor terrace, looking out at the ocean and enjoying the wonderful ocean air. As others have noted, the full buffet is $25, but I decided it was worth it with the tropical feel. As with any outdoor restaurant, however, you get to share it with any birds or other wildlife wondering by that are interested in eating breakfast, too. They won’t come to your table unless you leave, so if you leave, be sure to put a napkin over your food and you’ll be fine. A chameleon may also cross your path at El San Juan as you are walking around the pool area. It all adds to the experience, and I found my leisurely breakfasts at La Terraza and the tropical wildlife around the resort area one of the best parts of my trip. For those who want a more moderately priced breakfast, there are two Starbucks at El San Juan, one to the left as you enter the hotel, and one in the Galleria area. The Starbucks in the lobby is open during the morning and offers breakfast sandwiches and oatmeal. The Starbucks in the Galeria is larger and open all day. The pool area and ocean are beautiful, and be sure to see the Banyan tree that is to the left as you enter the pool area. It’s so incredible.
The only final comment is that anyone who visits the El San Juan needs to remember that this hotel is a very happening place, both for visitors and locals alike. It’s a very popular place to see and be seen. As with any such place, noisy neighbors, people coming back from partying (and having had a very good time), are very much a part of the fabric of being at El San Juan. The fact the floors aren’t carpeted and there isn’t sound proofing in the Brava or elsewhere (such as sound resistant wall fabrics or paint), means that there isn’t anything to minimize the sounds of other vacationers and nightclub attendees who are having a wonderful time. I got used to it after my second night, but if you are looking for a quiet, peaceful, low-volume vacation, a quiet boutique hotel may be more suited to you.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Oceanfront hotel surrounded by 15 acres of landscaped grounds in fashionable Isla Verde district - 15 minutes from Old San Juan. El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel presents a perfect blend of tropical splendor, Old World elegance and vibrant culture. Redesigned guest rooms are bright and inviting- ideal for a retreat. Lounge at the beach or on the expansive Encanto Pool Complex featuring flowering gardens, and spacious sundeck, Olympic-sized pool, Fantasy swimming pool with swim-up bar, waterfall and whirlpools, private cabanas for rental or relax and rejuvenate at the Edourad de Paris Day Spa. Enjoy a vibrant and varied nightlife, choosing from nine on-site award wining restaurants, a world-class casino, plus 15 lounges, bars and nightclubs. One life to live? Live it up at El San Juan! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- El San Juan Resort And Casino
- El San Juan Hotel Isla Verde
- El San Juan Hotel Casino
- The Waldorf Astoria Collection Carolina
- El San Juan Hotel Puerto Rico
- El San Juan Resort & Casino, A Hilton Hotel Puerto Rico/Isla Verde