Obviously, the Hotel El Convento has changed since the days it was home to Carmelite nuns living simple lives dictated by their vows of poverty. Today, guests enjoy every indulgence in Old San Juan's most beautiful large hotel. The Spanish colonial architecture features high ceilings; thick, gnarled, exposed mahogany beams; and breeze-friendly louvered doors that let in the Atlantic winds. Views feature the San Juan Bay—where the conquistadors once sailed—and the streets of Old San Juan.
The hotel has long been among the Puerto Rican capital's plushest options. Rooms have rich colors, lovely tiled floors, and Oriental rugs. The traditional touches make guests feel like the nobility who once lived here.
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The heart of Old San Juan lies just outside El Convento's door. The thick-walled cathedral is across the street, and the presence of Ponce De Leon's tomb is proof that his quest for the fountain of youth was fruitless. Just west, the Puerta de San Juan is a gate through the old walls and dates to the 1630s. Craft beer drinkers love nearby La Taberna Lupelo, while nightlife enthusiasts should go salsa dancing at Nuyorican Café.
Need to Know
Rooms: 58 rooms and suites. From $225. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options: Open-air Patio del Nispero is located in the hotel's courtyard, and its menu incorporates local ingredients including herbs from El Convento’s rooftop garden. El Picoteo overlooks the courtyard and has an extensive wine list and tapas selection as well as popular versions of paella. Pizza e Birra offers crowd-pleasing Italian fare including thin-crust pizza. Spa and gym details: The fitness center features free weights, treadmills, and stair climbers.
Who's it for: Travelers who appreciate history and architecture. Our favorite rooms: El Convento has several large suites, but the Vista Rooms live up to their names with outside views the likes of which the original cloistered residents were probably denied. Indulge yourself: In the evenings, guests enjoy wine, cheese, and charcuterie at the daily manager’s reception; those looking for something stronger can pull up a seat at the Alegria Patio Bar, where bartender Luis is known for his mojitos.