With just 22 rooms, El Blok’s strikingly modern aesthetic, pared-down simplicity, and uncompromising comfort make it a surprising Caribbean find. Located in the small coastal town of Esperanza on the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, El Blok opened its doors in 2014. San Juan–based architecture firm Fuster + Partners is behind the cool contemporary design: concrete wraps around the exterior, while a central light well illuminates the interior, enticing guests to the rooftop pool or out to the beach just across the street. Furniture is carved from locally sourced driftwood and hardwoods, and works of Puerto Rican artists Javier and Jaime Suarez decorate the common areas.
Distinctive touches such as an after-hours vending machine, Aesop amenities, and an obsession with local coffee contribute to an alternative yet luxe vibe. The hotel’s El Bike program enables guests to explore Vieques without the necessity of renting a car.
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The island of Vieques has impossibly beautiful beaches, including the natural wonders at Sun Bay and Playa Caracas. The warm blue water laps onto white sand, and there is not a building to be seen. The sight of wild horses transports you to a laid-back Caribbean of an earlier time. The hotel sits right on the main drag of the island's second city, Esperanza, which faces a beach and the ocean. The cafés near the hotel have a rollicking beach-party vibe every night.
Need to Know
Rooms: 22 rooms and suites. From $170. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: El Blok has plenty of star power in its chef, José Enrique, who has made his own culinary star at his namesake restaurant in San Juan. The restaurant menu is based around the large charcoal grill with emphasis on local organic produce. The bar is set on a large, open terrace shared with reception and the restaurant. Spa and gym details: There is no gym or spa, but head out to the beach for a run or to the ocean for a swim.
Who's it for: Hipsters looking for the latest hot spot. Our favorite rooms: Request a top-floor room. They offer better views out over the beaches and bay, and are closest to the communal rooftop space, which features a guests-only pool and garden. Roof with a view: The best place to take in the sunset is from a lounge chair on the hotel’s rooftop.