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“What a wonderful place!”
Review of Hotel El Convento

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Hotel El Convento
Ranked #2 of 47 Hotels in San Juan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed August 19, 2012

This is a wonderful hotel. From the moment, I called to make reservations, I had a wonderful experience. The woman I spoke with to make reservations was very friendly and arranged for a quiet room and an early check in because we were traveling with young children.

With one exception (a gentleman at the front desk who I will not name by name but who seemed to have no idea where anything was or how to be of help), the staff was superlative. They were very nice and great with directions, etc. They arranged a rental car for me with Charlie's and helped us book our flight to Vieques. They were so sweet to my two kids that my five year old looked forward to seeing his "friends" at the front desk each day.

The hotel itself was wonderful too. The room was spacious and pretty with high ceilings and space to spread out. The main restaurant was great for breakfast -- I recommend the cream de maiz though my kids swear by the pancakes. The pizza place on site was not bad though the service was just so-so. We did not get a chance to try the tapas restaurant.

There is a pool on the deck of the fourth floor. It is small but was a perfect size to cool off and for my five year old to swim. It was never too busy and when there were other people up there everyone was friendly. There were always towels available up at the pool.

The turn down service each night was wonderful. They turned classical music on and left chocolates on the pillow. They also provided a real crib for my daughter to use.

One of the best features of the hotel was the free bottled water upstairs. You could take as much as you wanted all day. It was great to have available and a real cost savings. There was also always fruit and coffee available too. It was really a nice touch. We went to the wine and cheese reception one evening and that was lovely as well. Lots of wine, cheese, and crackers.

Also, the hotel is wonderfully located. It was an easy walk to restaurants, shops, the port area, and both forts. There were always taxis outside too.

One thing to note is that the hotel is on a big hill so if you are using a wheelchair, it may not be the best place for you, though they have ramped the hotel (it is steep though) to get in and it is ramped on the first floor to get to the main restaurant.

Room Tip: We had a corner room on the second floor which had a little hallway leading into it which gave us a...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank Mike S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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1,670 - 1,676 of 2,769 reviews

Reviewed August 19, 2012

My wife and I stayed here in November 2010 and we loved it. The breakfast was fabulous in the courtyard and we enjoyed a dinner complete with music and dancing. The room had a spectacular view and we watched the sunset from a small pool near the roof.

Room Tip: This hotel is a little more expensive due to the perfect location in downtown Old San Juan, but the...
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  • Stayed: November 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank David H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 16, 2012

Stayed here for 9 days and 9 nights. The staff here were so friendly that we got to know a few of them and they took us out on the town one night. Perfect location, only thing is it's difficult to park anywhere in the city. I would recommend parking off of paseo de la princessa in the parking lot outside of the walls, it is only a 5 min walk through the southeast gate to the Hotel. One room was a suite and had a nice living room with tv where we could wind down our evenings, also radios had adaptors for your own music. In the middle of the courtyard was an enormous old nispero fruit tree with bats darting around it each night.

  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank kborders89
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EROSA, General Manager at Hotel El Convento, responded to this reviewResponded August 17, 2012

Dear kbroders89,

I am glad that you were able to spend more than just a couple of nights to get to know Old San Juan as well as everything it has to offer. We know that sometimes it’s difficult to find a parking spot in the streets near the hotel. For your convenience, we provide 24 hour valet parking located across the street, next to the Old San Juan Cathedral. We certainly hope to see you in the near future! Please fell free to contact me directly if you were to need further assistance.

Warm Regards,

Efrain Rosa
General Manager
erosa@elconvento.com

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 16, 2012

We stayed here for two nights and it was great. Although the hotel was sold out, it didn't feel like it was. No kids running amuck or obnoxious tourist types. As other travelers have said, the location is great for visiting all of the Old San Juan sites and the hotel restaurant options on site seem good, although we did not eat at one. Rosa de Triana across the square was great for tapas and sangria.

We did enjoy several special experiences at El Convento though. The wine and cheese reception is not your typical one that some hotels will ration out. They had at least six different wines to try and a good variety of decent cheeses and crackers. The tables overlooked the plaza and cathedral nearby. Again, no irritating folks, just good people with great service enjoying a great evening. As the sun goes down, we also witnessed an interesting site - fruit bats fly around the tops of the trees in the courtyard with amazing agility and provide quite the silent show while the coqui (tiny frogs) chirp in the background with a sound similar to a Bobwhite quail. On Sunday, the cathedral fills the square next to the hotel with music echoing out - it's beautiful.

Room Tip: I would not choose a 5th floor room, as they have low ceilings and do not appear as nice. We switch...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled with friends
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1  Thank AArrgghh
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2012

El Convento is within a few short blocks of historical sites, shopping, and restaurants. The staff and very friendly and helpful. Ask for a quiet room - some of the rooms are next to the restaurants and bar area. The plunge pool is very small so take advantage of the beach privileges at the sister hotel. The only drawback is the $25. taxi ride each way. If you are staying in OSJ more than 2-3 days, I recommend renting a car. After a few days, there is nothing left to see in OSJ and it costs a fortune to get a taxi to go anywhere.

Room Tip: Rooms that overlook the plaza are quieter.
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank copyspider
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 14, 2012

We stayed for seven days and seven nights. It was the perfect location. We were on our honeymoon and we wanted quaintness and a place to relax and that's what we found at Hotel El Convento. Everyone that works there seems to enjoy his or her job. They were helpful in planning activities, giving directions, and anything else we needed. It was quiet and very close to all the shopping and restaurants. The pool is only a plunge pool, but we found good times to go when it wasn't that crowded. We especially enjoyed the complimentary cheese and wine at six pm and the complimentary bottles of water. The turn down service is great too. Who doesn't like chocolates before bed? We also went to their sister hotel and enjoyed the pool and beach for one day. It made up for the small pool at their location. We compared El Convento to other hotels, and we decided that it was perfect for what we were looking for.

Room Tip: We paid extra for a view of the bay, but I think all the rooms have about the same view. I would ha...
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  • Stayed: August 2012, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank Natalie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 13, 2012

We experienced a couple of speed bumps during our stay. But, on balance they were not significant; nor, did they detract from a #1 rating. We stayed at El Convento in Old San Juan, this late May-Early June.

Location: This former convent sits on a "town square" across from the Catedral San Juan de Battista, the 2nd oldest Cathedral in the New World in the heart of Old San Juan. Depending on your view, your balcony (no walk on access) overlooks the square or out over unappealing building roofs to San Juan Bay. You are a short walk to everything in Old San Juan at El Convento. You are NOT near the beach (Condato, San Juan), which is a 10 minute drive. But, El Convento has a relationship with 2 beach front hotels (names escape me). You simply get a letter of introduction at the front desk at ElConvento, and drive to the Condado (10 min) to the beach. The beach hotel "checks you in" with a day pass so that you can charge food/drink, etc. You cannot walk to Condado. I would suggest a car rental. Parking is cheap. Cabs are an expense.

Rooms: The rooms are excellent. Hyper- clean. a safe for valuables, comfortable beds, Bose music system and flat screen TV, balcony (without walk out access. It was a medieval convent afterall). digital a/c (more about that under Glitches), table and chairs outside room.

I would recommend one of the upgrade packages that upgrade your room to a bay view, and include some perks. I just noticed on their website that some of these packages have recently changed though.

Amenities: Upgrade packages: see website. Valet parking is appx $24/day right across the street next to cathedral. I would recommend a car because there is so much do elsewhere in San Juan, and Puerto Rico. Why be stuck in Old San Juan (as nice as it is) ? This is a boutique hotel with a small pool and hot tub on the 4th floor. If you want to be near the pool, get a 4th floor room. 3 restaurants. The main restaurant on the bottom floor is beyond great for breakfast, dinner not so much. There are other great restaurants in Viejo (Old) San Juan. But, definitely stay for breakfast. The service is the best you will ever get ! There is also a pretty good pizza restaurant on the street with outdoor seating. Some like the Tapas restaurant. I didn't eat there. It had this "Greasy" look about it with white plastic chairs. I don't care about the food. The place just looked unappealing to me. There is a great (and inexpensive) Tapas restaurant anyway right across the square from the hotel Rosa de Triana (we ate there 2x).

FREE 1 hour upscale wine and cheese buffet on 3rd floor every night at 6 PM. Get there early for a seat/table. If you are there at 6:15 you stand. During the wine and cheese party, look down at the square and listen to the folk singer, or a wedding(s) at the Cathedral, etc.

There is no dedicated Concierge desk (see glitches). However, the Hotel desk clerks, and other staff are highly knowledgeable. The former will help you and book snorkeling, El Yunkee, etc trips in-between customers !

There are a couple of bars,-- and an "Honor" bar on 3rd floor (location of wine and cheese party). You pour yourself a drink and write down your room number.

Lots of great art, tapestries, period furniture in this 350 year old former convent.

Kids: I saw some families with children. However, most kids would find this boring I would think. It is a small boutique hotel with small pool. Any kids there were well behaved; and there were no typical "entitled" savage parents who allow their little "snowflakes" to disrupt and ravage the quiet enjoyment of others as is typical with the "it's-all-about-me;-my-little-Johnny-and-Jill-can-do-no wrong-so-get-lost-and-mind-your-own-business-you-civilized-person types who we must suffer !

Glitches: 1) Unlike all other hotels, this hotel allows guests to bring bottled beer and cocktail glassware around the pool. This kind of thing is an accident waiting to happen. And, it did as I witnessed 2x guests accidentally dropping glass near the pool. I STRONGLY suggest you wear foot ware around the pool always. No one was drunk; it was an honest accident. Why the hotel doesn't do plastic glasses and canned beer is beyond me. 2) Our new digital A/C thermostat when down for the count; we had no A/C after that. The hotel (Spanish speaking only) maintenance/tech support guru was up in our ceiling, on the phone with company tech support, getting instructions about "the green wire gets connected to the black wire, right ?". Bottom line: they moved us to an adjoining room with twin beds (but better view) because they could not fix the A/C in our original room. 3) After we were moved, 2 days later the A/C was fixed in the original room. They rented it out to some knucklehead who smoked cigars in his room ! There is no smoking in rooms. I myself am a cigar smoker (where permitted). This miscreant's cigar smoke crept into my room from under the passage door. I immediately complained to the front desk and it was stopped.4) Restaurants: Hotel Tapas restaurant looked unappealing (see above), and the main restaurant dinner was medocre (but breakfast was excellent). I rarely saw more than a handful of people for dinner there. They even had waiters come up to the 6PM wine and cheese party "imploring" that we give their restaurant a chance.

I would HIGHLY recommend El Convento over all others. DO "NOT stay in congested Condado because it reminds you of the Jersey shore or Ocen City MD. Of course if like the bling, fast paced, shops in your face, casinos down the hall, kids in your face routine go for it in Condado instead of historical Viejo San Juan.

Room Tip: 4th and 5th floor overlooking San Juan Bay. 4th floor is pool level (not an important consideration...
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  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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6  Thank Edmond O
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

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 Family Hotel in San Juan
#1 Business Hotel in San Juan
#1 Romantic Hotel in San Juan
#2 Luxury Hotel in San Juan
Price Range: $303 - $740 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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