Which hotel would you recommend in San Juan?
February 9, 2010 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Where should we stay in San Juan, Puerto Rico?

My wife and I will be going to San Juan, Puerto Rico in late May, as I qualified for the Magic: the Gathering Pro Tour. I'll need to be able to get to the Puerto Rico Convention Center, but access to beaches, historical sites, or other points of interest are important, since she's not really much of a Magic player. Of course, I'd also like to get out a bit :)

The only other AskMe that seemed to touch on this question was asked here, but the recommendations were a bit out of our price range. Can we get a decent hotel room for around or under $100/night?

Tangentially, what are the transportation options in San Juan, and how bad is it that I don't speak any Spanish beyond "por favor" and "gracias"?
posted by explosion to Travel & Transportation around San Juan, PR (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
We stayed at El Convento in Old San Juan a couple years ago. It was $135/night at the time (although in late May it's looking like rack rates of $200+ and around $180 AAA), and our stay was quite pleasant. It's right across from a wonderful church.

And yeah, San Juan has tons of English speakers. You've got time to learn some of the basic, though.
posted by sadiehawkinstein at 12:47 PM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: In the San Juan area, not speaking Spanish should not be a problem.

I think if you chose a hotel in the Condado area, you should be able to take a bus from there to the Convention Center and to Old San Juan. In that part of town, an area that has lots of tourists, the buses are pretty reliable, plus it's a short bus ride. Condado is right by the beach, so she could walk there easily. A cab ride from Condado to Old San Juan would be inexpensive, and I would definitely recommend that over a bus if you go for a night on the town. You could also stay in Old San Juan and bus/cab it to the beach and Convention Center.

Otherwise, you are talking about renting a car, and to be honest I would not recommend it unless you are planning to take daytrips further out into the island.

Hotels under $100 a night are a little harder to come by, but I would suggest looking into the El Canario inns - there are 2 of them and they are in Condado. (There used to be 3 but I am not seeing the 3rd one on their site). In Old San Juan there's the Milano. These are simple places but well-located.

I'm a native, but I don't live there right now. I've stayed at the Milano a couple of times when I am home for a visit, essentially on nights when I want to go party in Old San Juan and have a place to crash and not have to drive back to my mom's place. I quite like it. A friend of mine had a good experience with the Canario Inn. If you have other questions feel free to ask. And congrats on making it into the pro tour...my husband just got back into playing, and he's been teaching me the game.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 12:56 PM on February 9, 2010

I just clicked on your link and saw i rec'ed the Canario hotels there too...I promise I'm not a shill ;)
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:00 PM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: I know some folks who stayed at At The Wind Chimes Inn and were pretty satisfied. Looks like their rates aren't too bad. It's not in Old San Juan, but it's not far from there. On preview, DrGirlfriend mentions buses, and I'd definitely look into those. We rented cars when I was there, and the traffic was hellish (it was Three Kings Day though, so YMMV.)

That particular place is close to the Ocean Park beaches, which were nice, and seemed to be less crowded. It's on McLeary, which turns into Ashford Avenue, a cool strip with lots of restaurants and such.

I found that my lack of Spanish was less of a problem in San Juan (at least, in the tourist-frequented areas I was in) than in other parts of the island.
posted by evisceratordeath at 1:01 PM on February 9, 2010

My in-laws stayed at the Wind Chimes, that's also in Condado. They liked it, but I seem to remember their prices being higher than what you are looking for. However, worth checking out just in case.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 1:02 PM on February 9, 2010

Best answer: Follow-up:

We stayed at El Canario by the Lagoon, and I would not recommend it. I didn't expect luxury, but a working shower would've been nice. The water-pressure was practically non-existent. We paid for a queen size bed, and got a lumpy-mattress double. The wifi went out half-way through our vacation, and by check-out 3 days later, they still hadn't fixed it. Probably required nothing more than a power-cycle, but they couldn't be bothered to try.

Breakfast was OK, but on our first day, they were out of coffee an hour before breakfast hours ended.

All in all, we found ourselves wishing we'd just spent a bit extra to stay at the Sheraton near the convention center. Our friends who stayed there really loved it, the pool was amazing (no pool, of course, at El Canario), and the day we most felt like we were actually on vacation was when we visited them.
posted by explosion at 8:38 AM on June 1, 2010

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