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“Definitely worth a stay - just a few drawbacks”
Review of Hotel El Convento

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Hotel El Convento
Ranked #2 of 48 Hotels in San Juan
Certificate of Excellence
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
86 reviews
31 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 101 helpful votes
“Definitely worth a stay - just a few drawbacks”
Reviewed January 12, 2012

This charming, intimate hotel is perfect if you like uniqueness at every turn. It blends in perfectly with the cobblestone streets and old buildings, and unlike most hotels, things aren't where you expect them and that's the fun of it. The outdoor seating areas are large and spread out over two levels. The wine and cheese hour is fabulous, with unique wines I had never tried before - not your typical "whatever is cheapest" you find elsewhere. Some thought actually went into this which I find refreshing. Staff keeps the bottles coming too, and mixes them up so there's always something new to try. There is a laid back graciousness that prevails here. You immediately feel at home, you want to linger. Each floor has an open air walkway that overlooks a tree filled courtyard. Two restauraunts (on two different floors) adds to the uniqueness. Unlike some commentors, we found it perfectly quiet. There is a special, sound proof door 5 feet inside your room that closes off the bedroom. Once closed, you hear nothing. Perhaps not every room had this? I thought is was quite novel actually! I could stay here a month and feel right at home...

Now the drawbacks... The ridiculous "resort" charge. First of all, this is not a resort. They are quick to mention you can enjoy resort like properties at their sister property, but that is simply wrong to charge people for something that isn't even there. Sorry, it just is. The resort charge is percentage based too, so, if you are paying more for your room, it becomes a more expensive resort charge. Secondly, I realize and appreciate that this is a SLH hotel and historic property, but at NYC prices, I'm not quite sure it's worth the price. Especially considering the room sizes are really quite small. Lastly, and this could have been just our luck, but we sat at their bar for 10-15 minutes and nobody acknowledged us, or took our order, or said I'll be with you in a minute. So we left and drank elsewhere. There were THREE people behind the bar too.

All in all we loved this place, but pricing is a little off for what you get, and the sky high resort charge for nothing gives you that "gotcha" feel. Too bad...

Room Tip: Choose a room away from the elevator, the higher the floor the better.
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
7 Thank bermuda_explorer
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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fairfax,va
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed January 9, 2012

El Convento was a 16th century monastery occupied by the Carmelite nuns.It is downtown San Juan across the street from San Juan Bautista Cathedral which ou must visit .The resting place of Ponce DeLeon.There are rumors that tunnels exist between the monsatery and the church!
It has been renovated.The building is typically spanish with 3 levels surrounding a central open courtyard which is the restaurant both during the day and when it rains.The rooms are fronted by wide balconies which run all around offerering shelter from the weather.
The floors are old clay tiles,framed by sunny curved arches.
The rooms are sized at 3 levels,we stayed at the double.A king bed,shutters and a window onto the street.A bathroom totally upgraded with toiletries from Aveda.Thick towels and bathrobes,flat screen TV.
The hotel has a ballroom that is used for weddings ,so it can get noisy at night.
There is a rooftop plunge pool and sunning area,dont plan on swimming at the hotel.
There are amazing nooks and seating areas throughout the hotel.
An all day honor bar system exists in one of these areas.
The food was great,the evening meal service was excellent.
The best part about this hotel is it's location.Walking distance to every thing downtown!!!
2 blocks from the fortalezza,a mile to El morro.We ate at Marmalade and Trois Cent Onze.Marmalde was OK but expensive,TCO was great.Freanch food ,good wine selection.
Hotel averaged 275 plus tax a night,the rate varies according to the day of the week so avoid Sat and Sun if possible.
Enjoy!


The best part

  • Stayed June 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank pprahlad
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas
Level Contributor
60 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2012

We stayed at El Convento in March of 2011 and had a wonderful experience. The hotel is not "modern" in that the rooms are not all identical to one another and the layout is what you might expect in that regard. The design and furnishings of the two rooms I saw were very high quality. The bathroom in our room was small, but very nice. We actually occupied a small suite which included a living area, a wet bar and the separate bedroom and bath. Our friends were happily upgraded to a beautiful room adjacent to the pool. We tried one of the restaurants and two of the bar areas while there. The most fun was the honor bar, which has a veranda associated with it. We hung out there for quite a while and met some other guests, one of whom we ended up going to dinner with that evening. Very cozy. The pool is TINY and located on the roof. It is very pretty and has a lot of charm, but this is not a pool that would lend to rowdy play and probably not for children at all. I would classify this pool as a "plunge pool." It's barely larger than my spa at home. If you got 8 or 10 people in there all at once, you'd become close friends. The service, food, drinks, amenities, surroundings, location -- all top notch. We're staying there again next month, so that says something in itself. Enjoy!

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank CGUESS
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Washington, DC
Level Contributor
5 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2012

When we started looking at locations for a December destination wedding, we chose Puerto Rico largely based on El Convento and its unique character. It really is an amazing property with so much history and character that you can't find easily in the states. After a year of planning, I had a serious breakdown about two weeks before the wedding when I learned on TripAdvisor from other travelers that the hotel's interior courtyard was under construction. Fortunately for us, we had only planned on having the cocktail reception in the courtyard at dusk (so you couldn't see the construction) and our party was small enough to utilize the part that is still open, so it all worked out and we ended up having a wonderful event. I feel badly for the people who had planned on using the patio for their ceremony because they are just out of luck for now. Despite the construction, this hotel is worth a visit for travelers, or for those having a local event - planning a destination wedding in Puerto Rico is a much more complicated endeavor than we imagined for many reasons.

  • Stayed December 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Otono76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Quebradillas, Puerto Rico
Level Contributor
33 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 36 helpful votes
Reviewed January 8, 2012

I have stayed at this hotel twice in the past couple years and am truly in love with it. The service can't be beat. The staff speaks fluent english and will help with just about anything (from booking an excursion to recommending what beach or restaurant to visit). The hotel is located in the heart of Old San Juan with walking distance to just about everything. There is a daily wine and cheese hour where you get all the wine and cheese you would like. The selection is fabulous and ...well, I would stay there again just for this hour! The hotel used to be an old spanish catholic convent so the rooms are small but with amazing architecture. Definitely a great once in a lifetime place to visit. I highly recommend it.

Room Tip: Many times if you're staying for just one night they'll upgrade you for free. Don't nec...
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
3 Thank deborahcorinne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Morgantown, West Virginia
Level Contributor
32 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2012

Absolutely LOVED the hotel and Old San Juan! I am an "Honoured Member" of the Small Luxury Hotel Group, which entitles me to the best available room at check in. I had to change rooms several times before I got away from the rooms with a view of the dumpsters and alley. The desk staff made me feel like I was stealing from them by politely requesting my due upgrade. The Gloria Vanderbilt Suite was lovely! It was so big that we had to send out a search party to find the dressing room with our luggage in it. I am mobility-impaired, but was delighted with the easy navigability of this property. We SHALL return!!!

Room Tip: The rooms facing the front of the hotel have a fabulous view. The rooms in the back are quiet - and...
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  • Stayed November 2011, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Goddess-of-Luxury
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Toronto, Canada
Level Contributor
85 reviews
60 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2012

You'll be happy at El Convento if yiou don't expect too much. The location is good and the history is here but the rooms smell musty and they have no ionizers to fix the problem. Their answer is to turn the AC down to 50 degrees. It's not very comfortable. Tonight there is a wedding and our room two floors above is reburberating. I am paying $700.00 for a cold and smelly suite with no sleep. Unfortunately, we also came at a time when the courtyard was being re-titled so we can't enjoy it for breakfast. Instead, we eat in a meeting room with no atmosphere. (and drink orange juice out of a carton- don't they grow oranges here??) The hot tub is old and the we didn't get our room cleaned until 4;00 pm. My husband is now saying that we should reconsider booking historical properties but we've had good success with them before. It is funney that they can get it right in Brazil but not Puerto Rico.El Convento is definitely NOT a luxury property. if you come expecting average service and simply enjoy old San Juan, you could be satisfied.

Room Tip: No sure there is one
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  • Stayed January 2012, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
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    • Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Betty-Ann H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hotel El Convento

Property: Hotel El Convento
Address: 100 Cristo St | Old San Juan, San Juan 00901, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Location: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > San Juan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in San Juan
#1 Family Hotel in San Juan
#1 Romantic Hotel in San Juan
#2 Luxury Hotel in San Juan
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Hotel El Convento 4.5*
Number of rooms: 58
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the heart of historic Old San Juan, Hotel El Convento has set new standards of luxury, comfort and service while preserving the rich character of this former 16th century convent. This landmark treasure, a member of Historic Hotels of America and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has earned four diamonds from AAA each year since its opening. This is the exclusive hotel experience to indulge the most discriminating of travelers, and is a hotel like no other. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Convento San Juan

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