Hotel El Convento
What We Love
- Daily Manager's Reception, serving a variety of wine and hors d'ouevres at La Veranda Terrace
- Staff is super-friendly, greets guests by name
- Three restaurants, serving cuisine ranging from Spanish tapas to traditional Puerto Rican fare
- Herbs from the hotel's garden are used in its cocktails and cuisine
What To Know
- The Old San Juan location means it’s not on the beach
- Don’t expect to swim laps in the rooftop plunge pool; it’s small
- The hotel is a popular wedding venue
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
Amid the glitzy megaresorts along San Juan’s waterfront, El Convento, located in the historic walled quarter, is a one-of-a-kind oasis. Originally a 17th-century Carmelite convent, the three-story pale yellow building has been reborn as an intimate luxury hotel, with a romantic inner courtyard and rich wall tapestries that will attract those looking for a more authentic Puerto Rican getaway. Wrought iron chandeliers, terra-cotta tile floors and dark wood beam ceilings speak to its Spanish colonial past, as do the panoramic views of Old San Juan’s pretty pastel-colored buildings and bougainvillea-filled cobblestone squares from the rooftop terrace.
Bed and Bath
The 58 guestrooms are individually designed, but many feature high ceilings, mahogany furnishings, wooden ceiling fans and original artworks from noted Puerto Rican artists, along with such amenities as flat-screen TVs, free WiFi and AC that really cranks — most welcome in steamy San Juan. Top suites include the One-Bedroom Pablo Casals (the famous cellist was a frequent guest and gave impromptu courtyard concerts) and the Gloria Vanderbilt, which has a kingsize bed, a Jacuzzi tub, a dining room and Spanish louvered doors that open onto a spacious veranda with views of Plaza de las Monjas and the old city.
The hotel’s heart is the courtyard, where the Patio del Nispero offers alfresco dining, whether it be café con leche and pastries in the morning, grilled fish and mofongo (garlic-flavored fried plantains) for lunch, or late night passion fruit mojitos. On the second floor is El Picoteo, which serves tapas (marinated mushrooms, garlic shrimp), paella and killer sangria. There’s also a trattoria with thin crust pizzas and craft beer, as well as a rooftop plunge pool and a small (but well-equipped) fitness center. And the convent’s former chapel is now a popular wedding reception venue; ask a staff member to show you the historic, art-filled space.
In the Area
Just a few steps from El Convento is the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista, where Ponce de Leon, the Spanish explorer and first governor of Puerto Rico, is buried (mass is still said there). Nearby is the massive El Morro Fort, the Spanish-built citadel that once kept watch over the harbor (be sure to take the tour), and streets like Fortaleza Street, which is lined with boutiques, jewelry stores and restaurants serving Puerto Rican fusion cuisine. When you’re ready to party, the quarter has plenty of fun bars and hole-in-the-wall salsa clubs where locals hang and dance up a storm.
How to Get There
It was a wonderful experience. Wonderful people, nice room, great food. I dont recall one issue. I would stay again. I have a friend in San Juan now and I told her to stay there. It is a more quaint family feel to it. Not so commercial. Very very nice.
Impressive old building with a fascinating history. The complimentary wine and cheese reception was a much appreciated perk that helped us slide into a nice relaxing routine.
I do wish they had bartenders serving the pool area though. I saw a few people order room service up to the roof but it would be nice if someone came by periodically to take orders.
Would stay again!
Great location, comfortable bed, good shower and a dark room for sleeping, alas there is no parking at this hotel all there is Parking nearby alas at the time of writing this it is €16 a day,
The hotel only had about 25 rooms, it has breakfast at an extra cost. We found the staff to be very friendly, and very willing t part with local information
We were here right after Thanksgiving Nov 23 to the 25th before our cruise. The location is fabulous for wandering Old Town and I liked a lot about the property but there were also many issues for a 2 night stay.
Sunday 11/25 woke up to no water pressure at all - couldn't wash, shower, or flush the toilets. Also - elevators weren't working. While these may be situations out of their control - some sort of compensation should have been offered. I spoke with the front desk twice and got apologies but nothing for my troubles not even free breakfast.
Bed was rock hard. Hard to equate this with luxury
View was supposed to be at lease a partial view of Old Town - not really. We got a glimpse of the bay but 95% of the view was the building behind us. That said the bay portion was beautiful.
Check in was adequate - we signed our card and got our keys and that was it. The couple coming in behind us got a different agent and were warmly welcomed to Puerto Rico and El Convento, got a map, suggestions for food, and a offer to get a bellman to help with their 1 bag. Hubby and I looked at our 4 bags and looked at our check in lady who shrugged and went back to her paper work.
Housekeeping was very kind and got us extra pillows. The food at the restaurant was amazing - service was very slow - ie 35 minutes to bring out dessert (Key Lime Pie) but really really good.
Wine and cheese offering in the early evening was great and access to coffee and hot water all day was a nice touch since I drink a lot of herbal teas.
Location was great for wandering. Air conditioning in the room was excellent and the additional doors at the room entrance and balcony did mean the room was very quiet and restful - except for the bed...
Would we stay here again? Maybe. If you only have one night available before a cruise - probably would not recommend. This was very pricey and a bit away from the pier if there are traffic issues (there were and we were being told it could take 1.5 hours to get to the dock) and for a supposedly Luxury Hotel - a bit lacking in comfort and some service. If you have two nights or more and hit one of their occasional deals - then yes - there is still a lot to recommend for the hotel despite the issues we ran into.
My husband and I stayed at El Convento before embarking on our cruise, and we couldn't have made a better decision! The staff are very polite, and have great suggestions on points of interest and places to eat. The room we had was so beautiful, I was upset we only had one night there! There was a wine and cheese reception the night we got there, and there is a common room that has coffee, hot tea and water 24 hours a day. We loved our visit and will definitely stay here again if we are in San Juan!