Stayed at Hotel La Playa for 3 nights in late October 2012 while attending a conference at the Hotel Intercontinental (ICSJ) located just down the beach. Overall a very enjoyable stay. Although small in size, Hotel La Playa provides much more of a ‘San Juan Real’ feel coupled with a down-to-earth experience not possible at the neighboring mega-resorts. Keep in mind – this hotel may be a better fit for those individual-minded, budget-conscious travelers seeking an ‘on-the-beach’ vibe with average amenities – if you’re looking to relax and post up at a resort-style pool area with little sense of adventure, it might not be the best fit. Considering the incredible deal I scored for this room, albeit off-season, I can't call out any negativity to the minor 'small-hotel' issues that some TA reviews have focused on: the hotel does charge your credit card for the full amount at check-in, occasional paint wear/tear, and there is no pool. Regardless, Hotel La Playa is virtually encompassed by the ocean and this proximity plays a big part in it’s unique charm.
I called a week in advance after discovering a deeply-discounted rate right on TripAdvisor (see tip below) and Linda answered the phone; she was very warm and helpful from reservation to checkout. Located just 1 mile from SJU Int’l Airport, the Hotel lies at the end of a small dead-end street (Calle Amapola) atop a small peninsula with two adjacent beaches on either side: to the west/left is Sunset Beach (ESJ, ICSJ and the main Isla Verde strip) and to the east/right is Sunrise Beach (Ritz Carlton). Sunset Beach is virtually across from the Hotel, while the latter is a short (very worthwhile) 1-minute walk down the street – Sunrise Beach is considerably quieter, cleaner, and IMHO much more enjoyable than the main Isla Verde area.
For anyone that might be skeptical of this Hotel’s accessibility, take it from a New Yorker that the beach is perfectly safe and well-illuminated for walking, especially at night: 2 of my 3 nights involved intoxicated > 1 AM walks home along the beach from Hotel ICSJ, with ATV police patrols and other tourist walkers in sight – no sense of insecurity whatsoever (even without drinks). Taxi’s are always nearby and know the location well. Walk 8 minutes down the street and there’s a Walgreen’s with other misc. shops and restaurants. For reference, ESJ is a 5-minute walk down Sunset Beach and ICSJ is roughly 7 minutes.
Rooms are very clean and comfortable, considering that the structure is upward of 30+ years old. Furniture and in-room features are modern and simple, with plenty of storage/closet space; a small couch, REFRIGERATOR, and LCD TV were all big pleasant surprises given how quaint and secluded the hotel feels. Another plus (for all you climate-control obsessive types) are the individual, remote-control electric A/C units in each room, which respond immediately and effectively (there’s also a great, mild tropical scent / air freshener noticeable throughout the room and common areas, adding to that tropical ambiance). The King Size Bed and linens were very clean and comfortable. See room tip below. My only issue at all with the room was quirky rapidly-changing water temperature in the shower.
The free/included breakfast buffet was simple faire; cereals, fruit, bread and muffins are served on the main restaurant/bar terrace with an amazing view and ambiance – geckos, lizards and crabs are all fun to spot from the lower deck area. I did not sample the restaurant ‘La Playita’ but the menu appeared reasonably priced with lots of PR/local choices. The lush, landscaped courtyard and lobby area have teak decking and great ambient music, adding to a SouthBeach-style vibe that doesn’t overshadow the authentic sound of the ocean waves and Coqui Frogs at night. There’s an incredible 3rd floor rooftop terrace, normally closed after 1pm, which hosts morning yoga classes and provides for excellent photo opps. There are always hotel staff/maintenance members visible around the site (even at late hours) which definitely contribute to the personable and safety factors.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Newly renovated 15-room motel-style hotel, restaurant and bar in Isla Verde - only 5 minutes from San Juan's airport. Only 10 steps to the best beach in San Juan from our front door. La Playita restaurant and bar on ocean-front deck for fantastic views. New 'Miami-style' design and decor feature new beds, flat-panel cable TV, air conditioning, new bathrooms and complementary continental breakfast every morning. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- La Playa Hotel
- La Playa Carolina
- Hotel La Playa Puerto Rico/Isla Verde