I could use some help choosing a hotel in Puerto Rico... or should we go somewhere else?
September 20, 2011 1:49 PM   Subscribe

I could use some help choosing a hotel in Puerto Rico (or should we go somewhere else?).

My wife and I are going on a trip in mid-December or early January (not over the holidays). While we'd love to go to Barbados, Nevis, or St. Kitts, all the better hotels on those islands are extremely expensive, as well as the flights to get there from where we live in the US Midwest.

Puerto Rico seems like a good option - good weather, inexpensive flights, some local culture, affordable hotels. The other top option on our list is Los Cabos, Mexico - maybe the Hilton Los Cabos.

Here's what we are looking for:

- Upscale property and hotel room
- Nice beach and pool
- Close to restaurants that we can walk to so we can eat meals off property
- Large enough hotel to have resort feel, not apartment or guesthouse

So - two questions:
1. Is there another island we should consider?
2. If we go to PR, which of these hotel options would you choose? (mapped here)

Condado / San Juan:
Caribe Hilton
Conrad (no beach?)
Marriott San Juan (small pool?)
Hilton El San Juan

East of San Juan
Hilton El Conquistador
Hilton Las Casitas (Waldorf)
posted by kdern to Travel & Transportation around Puerto Rico (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One more comment - the Ritz Carlton San Juan seems like a perfect option, but at $450-500 per night, it's more than we want to spend.
posted by kdern at 1:49 PM on September 20, 2011

I've stayed at El Conquistador. It is very nice, but it is isolated, don't plan on walking anywhere.
posted by Ad hominem at 1:52 PM on September 20, 2011

I've stayed at the Intercontinental. It's super nice, has a fun pool [like a swim-up bar] and you can walk out past the pool to the beach. You can catch a bus from right in front and go scoot over to old town [or take a cab] and you can also walk places right from there if you want to go to a store or a restaurant. Here is the beach, here is the pool, here is the view from my room. This was in 2007, so I'd check Trip Advisor, but I really enjoyed my stay there.
posted by jessamyn at 2:17 PM on September 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Las Casitas and El Conquistador are gorgeous, but not within walking distance of anything. One thing, though - if you are driving yourself there, there are lots of little seafood places a short drive away, so that could be an option.

All of the hotels in Condado/San Juan are very nice and walking distance to lots of restaurants. You don't mention wanting to sightsee, but if your main aim is to be somewhere resort-y and plan to spend most of your time on the premises, I don't think any of those hotels will hold your interest for very long. They are nice and have pools and beaches, but they are not really what I consider the kind of resort where you can hole up for days as they aren't quite big enough. But if you do want to leave the property for things other than meals, they are close to lots of stuff, so if you mix up beach/pool and getting out on the town, they are the best of both worlds.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 2:20 PM on September 20, 2011

I have recommended the Grand Case Beach Club on St. Martin to vacationing MeFites on budgets before and they've been very happy with it. The town has great restaurants, the hotel has its own beautiful beachy cove with a view over to Anguilla, plus there are terrific beaches nearby at llet Pinel and Anse Marcel – and, it's cheap! JetBlue flies right to St. Martin and the club will pick you up and rent you a wee car for like $30 a day.
posted by nicwolff at 4:01 PM on September 20, 2011

I've stayed at the Marriot, and have friends who've stayed at La Concha. Both were very nice.
posted by Runes at 6:43 PM on September 20, 2011

I've stayed at the Caribe Hilton. It's expensive but pretty nice. Really cool building. On property pools, beaches, snorkeling, swim up bar and all that. Also, there is a cool little area to watch/throw snacks at the very large barracuda looking fish that show up. The snorkeling area is a little weak in the cool underwater shit to look at department but there are some decent colorful fish schools to float around with. Sort of a long but doable walk from the downtown area if that is important.

There are some pretty good restaurants on the property, although Lemongrass was not as awesome as its menu would lead you to believe.
posted by cirrostratus at 9:26 AM on September 21, 2011

In San Juan, Isle Verde, i.e., the area right by the airport, has the nicest beaches, but there isn't much other than hotels nearby. I've stayed at the El San Juan, and it has a great lobby and casino, but the rooms are just okay.

On the other hand, the Condado part of town, where the Conrad and the Marriott are located, has much better nightlife and is close to Old San Juan, which is filled with history and restaurants. If heard only good things about the Conrad, which opened only about two years ago. I would not recommend the Caribe Hilton -- its in an odd little area thats hard to get in and out of, and the rooms are pretty crappy.

I love the El Conquistador, but everyone is right -- you have to treat it as an inclusive resort, as it is miles from everywhere. However, they are good at arranging tours and have their own marina. Their beach set-up is odd, there is no beach on the mainland. Instead, they own an island that is all beach and bar a short distance offshore, with a ferry that goes back and forth all day. Its beautiful, but less available -- it takes a while to get out there and there will be no midnight strolls. The place is huge and has a dozen or so restaurants. Also, their best rooms are in the marina area and in Las Casitas (which is more expensive).

as mentioned above, if you do stay in the Fajardo area, try to get to Vieques and Culebra. They don't sound like what you are looking for for your entire vacation, as they are quite primitive (though Vieques just got a W) but they have some of the best beaches anywhere.
posted by rtimmel at 9:47 AM on September 21, 2011

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