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
This was a couple’s getaway to relax and unwind. Late checked in, bellman didn’t offer to take out luggage, got to the room and as expected rustic charms with some attention to details missing. Got up the next morning to find out our room was not the room we reserved, it was supposed to be with a ocean view, instead we got a back view of the rundown building. Called the front desk, we told her we want to check out; room is below standard for the price and uncomfortable.
I was told manager will call after her meeting and do not check out. Tried calling the hotel after 2 hours of waiting, finally I got a hold of someone after 3pm.
Turned out they had us in the wrong room to begin with, transferred to another room which was nice and compensated for the room the first night. Again, management didn’t bothered calling.
The third day, from 1am- 3pm, No running water and no AC. That means No shower, No flushing toilets anywhere. I guess, this happens a lot.
So if you want to stay downtown San Juan, there’s plenty of hotel boutiques/Airbnb’s to stay. For the price, service and comfort, I’m giving it a 3 star rating. Our waiter Tony made up for it with his great sense of humor.
Love Old San Juan for it’s old charms. Unfortunately, we won’t be back at this hotel.
Lovely hotel, lovingly preserved! Right across from the Catedral, the rooms and courtyard are special. Very Spanish Colonial in character, the designs and furnishings are fabulous! The courtyard has wonderful food, too!
This was an excellent hotel. I had an amazing stay. The staff was super friendly and helpful. They accommodated my need for a quiet room to study the federal bar examination. On a whim I tried the restaurant...wow 5 stars.
I feel like I was home instead of a hotel. Super luxurious and very central to everything in old San Juan. Best stay!