HILTON HONORS GOLD: There is a dedicated help desk for check-in etc for Hilton Honors members. The front desk and all staff of the establishment were really excellent. Very courteous, prompt, and helpful. All spoke good English.
BREAKFAST: There is a restaurant that has a breakfast buffet every morning. There are two options: unlimited "continental," which includes hot cereal, fruit, various pastries and toasts and breads with butter / jam / cream cheese, coffee varieties including cappuccino etc, hot tea, orange juice and punch (carbohydrates); and the "upgrade" which is the unlimited continental with one visit to the hot buffet section where a server offers whatever you want in whatever portions you like of scrambled eggs, one or two meats, potatoes, fried cheese, fried turnovers, plantain (meats and specialty side dishes)... the hot buffet offerings varied with the exception of daily scrambled eggs. The continental buffet was around $11 and the upgrade was an additional $7-8. Hilton Honors members who opt for breakfast rather than points in their online profile receive a voucher for each night. The voucher is redeemed for the unlimited continental and for an optional $8 payment the hot buffet upgrade is available. All the food was very good. Great coffee. Pleasant restaurant, well-staffed.
PUBLIC AREAS: The lounge was very nice, open and spacious. Various shops, restaurants, and a Starbucks in the hotel lounge. The pool area and grounds were OK. Well-used but clean. The beach is to the western side of the hotel at the end of a lagoon protected by a coral breaker. The grounds were broken up into small areas: hammocks, sunbathing pier, beach, jacuzzi & bar, etc. so each area was a little more intimate and could have been completely occupied if crowded. It seemed best suited to families or groups. We did not use any of the resort amenities on the grounds but every guest, including Hilton Honors, pays a resort fee! For someone looking for a more authentic and natural Puerto Rican beach experience, the grounds of the hotel is not recommended. There is, however, a small local public beach within a short walk to the west that was practically deserted in the morning; surfers were also using the area but the swimming section is roped off. This beach is right on the coast behind a large breaker and is natural and beautiful. It is adjacent to a large botanical park.
ROOM: Our room was in the tower. It was well-used but adequately clean. The bed was perfectly clean and well-dressed with copious down pillows, feather bed, and down comforter. The view was down the coastline to the east. So there was an ocean view, but not of the horizon. There was also a lot of brilliant light at night from all the highrises down the coast. The view included the small fort, which is not open and unfortunately not as scenic with the orange cones scattered around. The shower was very large with travertine tile and two showerheads. No problem with the internet, lamps, coffemaker, hairdryer, or housekeeping. There was a problem with the noise level in the area. Small planes taking off from a nearby airport flew right past the hotel beginning at 7AM. There was construction of a large structure in the hotel complex that began at 6AM and included jackhammers, reverse alarms from construction vehicles, and generators. The hotel buildings are configured around the open circular entrance road which creates the acoustic effect of an amphitheater so that all traffic and the construction noise was amplified inside the complex. This included early morning truck deliveries. We noticed that it is the custom to leave vehicles running in Puerto Rico when parked, so truck and car motors were audible all day and into the night. We were on the 17th floor and were awakened by 7:30AM every day due to the noise.
LOCATION: The location of the Hilton Caribe is not ideal. There are virtually no businesses in the area. There are a few very small shops and a Subway restaurant adjacent to the hotel but the hotel is separated from any dining options and scenic areas (except for the botanical garden and public beach) by a significant stretch of marginally walkable apartments and government buildings. We did walk one evening from Old San Juan and it was a hike: a narrow sidewalk along a busy highway with traffic and litter. There is a bus that runs from Condado across the bridge, near to the Hilton Caribe, and into the bus terminal in Old San Juan. The bus takes 75 cents of exact change for each ride. The buses seemed safe and were very clean. We had no trouble with the bus on the way into the old town in the morning but getting back was a challenge. We would wait for up to an hour in the terminal while the buses were parked (engine running) and the drivers had "conveniences" - shopping, eating, whatever. Stops had to be called for, and the stop on the easterly route home required crossing five lanes of traffic (3, then 2) with no traffic signals to get back to the hotel. We only took taxis to and from the airport and there were excellent taxi services in the hotel lobby at all times. There were also bike rentals. The hotel was too inconvenient to return during the day from an excursion, so we had to plan accordingly. Getting around the old town was easy with plenty of scenic walking and a free trolley with stops all over the city.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The historic and iconic Caribe Hilton offers an ideal combination of leisure facilities and activities and is home to Caribar, the birthplace of the pina colada. The resort is situated on a private 17-acre lushly landscaped peninsula with a secluded beach and is located near the Old San Juan historic district and many of the destination's top attractions. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Caribe Hilton San Juan Hotel San Juan
- Hilton Hotel San Juan
- Hilton Hotel Caribe
- Hilton San Juan
- San Juan Caribe Hilton Hotel