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
- Handicap Accessible
- 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
I have to say that each time we stay at El Convento, service does not go down the level but exceeds our expectations. I stayed with my partner recently and were received by Kenneth in the valet area with a warm genuine smile.
At check in, Shirley made sure we had the required information during our stay and gave us extra tips, aside from the ones given before. While at front desk we met a familiar face which is Melody. Not many times you get to see a manager due to operational rush but she makes it happen. Melody, thank you for the amenity in the stunning room, by the way.
If you are looking for delicious food, Patio del Nispero is the place to go, and it's located in the hotel. Everything in the menu made it hard for me and my partner to decide but our waiter described his recommendations in such a way that we were captivated.
It was very pleasant stay and we are planning on returning very soon. It has definitely become one of our favorite hotels, and service has made that impact. Thank you all for your hard work and dedication.
I stayed here with my husband and son prior to a cruise. Hotel was clean, staff was friendly and location was great! We were within walking distance of many tourist attractions. Highly recommend this hotel!
We very much like our stay in El Convento. Convenient for days that you want to explore Old San Juan. Our rooms was very comfortable. Love the courtyard, the plunge pool and whirlpool, which we did not expect since its a small area. It’s perfect for a few hours of relaxation between activities. The nightly wine and cheese is a plus also. We would definitely stay here again.