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
The Hotel El Convento, a former convent dating back more than 400 years is a charming and vibrant hotel in the heart of Old San Juan and just a short walk from the cruise port. The hotel is comfortable and still maintains a respect for the history of the property.
What a magnificent place to stay! We spent two nights here and wish we'd stayed longer instead of moving to the beach. The converted convent is well maintained, gracious, and full of interesting details from the tile work, to the painted ceilings to the tapestries to the wood furniture. The thick walls mean the rooms stay cool and quiet. We slept like babies! The rooms are interesting and charming and not modern, except for the bathrooms—which are new and lovely! The interior courtyard is a wonderful place to relax after a day of sight seeing. And the rooftop plunge pool is a hidden gem! We had almost it to ourselves at night, under the stars and with a view of the city's lights. What's more, the staff was friendly and accommodating and graciously rebooked our room when our party shrank from four to three at the last minute. Truly, a magical place to stay if you appreciate history and character and good service. Even our teens loved staying here!
The manager's hosted reception happy hour is a snazzy touch to a very well managed, gorgeous small hotel. Right in town on the cobblestone streets. Stay nowhere else; unless you have children, of course. It's a quiet, sophisticated place.
I live and work in San Juan and can not recommend the hotel El Convento enough. You need 6 stars. Best team of people anywhere. Everyone, and I mean everyone makes you feel as if you are a family member. Gorgeous rooms, fabulous linens and amenities. I wouldn’t stay anywhere else. And the food is fantastic. I come up with crazy requests and the chef always accommodates me. And, the views from the roof are breathtaking
It’s a top site in this part of San Juan so why not stay here. And it delivers. It really is an incredible place to visit and stay in. It’s in the middle of he what walking area, has a fantastic courtyard and set of balconies to relax in and beautiful old rooms. The service is outstanding (Tripadvisor did not actually secure the room they said they did buy the hotel more than made up for it - truly incredible service).
We had previously looked at other hotels but if you really want to see and experience old San Juan, this is easily the best choice.