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“Old world charm with great restaurants in the heart of everything”
Review of Hotel El Convento

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Hotel El Convento
Ranked #2 of 47 Hotels in San Juan
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 22 March 2009

We have stayed here twice and have been quite pleased with each stay. We simply love the architecture and charm of this historic hotel and are very pleased with both the Italian restaurant they are partners with across the street as well as the Tapas restaurant overlooking the courtyard.
The rooms are small as one would expect and do not really accomodate more that 2 adults with 2 small kids, but you know that from the get go.
The terrace with the wine and cheese party daily is a very nice touch. Breakfast is acceptable and the setting makes it better.
We have found the staff both friendly and helpful.
We have reserved both times from the hotel web site and have not had any problems.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled with family
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3  Thank PFT3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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2,301 - 2,307 of 2,762 reviews

Reviewed 21 March 2009

It is not a hotel for a family with kids. The beds are full size. There is no bed of queen size means you need 4 beds for 2 adults and 2 kids (unless they are 2 years old). The hotel staff will gladly propose you to put extra beds but there is no room to put them in the room. If you are not staying 3rd floor or above, the communication between the floors are very complicated for the kids. Hotel is open to outside public for the first 2 floors, it means there are very big and heavy iron gates to get to the corridor which leads you to your room. Other solution is key operated elevator. Hotel is in the middle of San Juan very nicely located. It is hard to find restaurants since the city lives with the cruises ship schedule. Around hotel too many bars operate which makes it unsuitable for the family with teen's also. For the "Small Luxury Hotel" category neither reception, nor bathrooms not even the restaurants in the hotel are qualified. Very little to do in the city. Rent your car yourself, hotel price is double or triple of the airport and not sure that shows up. It is a good hotel if you are with the cruise ship and only 2 days at Old San Juan.

  • Stayed: January 2009, travelled with family
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1  Thank FamilyComments
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ElConvento, General Manager at Hotel El Convento, responded to this reviewResponded 23 March 2009

We appreciate you taking the time to review Hotel El Convento though we are surprised that you felt this was a non-friendly hotel for children. We have always welcomed families with children, especially since there are numerous activities in the old city just for them. Directly across from the hotel is the Museo De Los Ninos - the children's museum - and with two forts in town to explore and other historical landmarks it a magical place for any child - or adult - to take a walk through history. We hope on your next visit you will have an opportunity to visit all the sites.
Best regards,
Efrain Rosa, General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 March 2009

We stayed here on our way back from a cruise. We booked three nights and wished we had stayed the whole week. I would go back to San Juan just to stay at this place. The rooms are clean, beautifully furnished, and have all of the comforts of home (air conditioning, lots of hot water, great bedding, etc). The staff was warm and friendly. What I really loved about this place was the atmosphere. It is so "old San Juan". There is a lush courtyard in the middle of the hotel where you can eat or have one of their amazing mojitos, an adorable rooftop pool and lounge chairs, a sweet little nightly wine and cheese reception, and a cute little tapas restaurant. The only negative thing I can say about this hotel is not really a negative but just a fact: If you are expecting American-style sizes and luxury here, you wont find it. Go to one of the larger chains out side of Old San Juan. But if you are looking for a small boutique hotel with lots of charm, then this is the place for you. We took our three teenagers who absolutely loved it as well.

  • Stayed: December 2008, travelled with family
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5  Thank kirklander5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 March 2009

If you're spending $1,000 or more for a few nights, 25% is an enormous tax. Also, they actually somehow managed to try to charge me 27%!

I booked on tablet hotels and it stated that there was a 20% tax. (That's outrageous enough.) But then at checkout, there was over $375 in taxes on my bill!

They said that when I checked in I signed a statement that said 25%. I was like, "Well, why am I being charged 27%?" The manager had no answer, of course. I showed them my confirmation which showed the 20% rate, and she replied with the classic, "Tablet hotels quoted you an old rate." So, I replied with the even more classic, "That's your problem, not my problem."

Even before the nightmare at checkout I felt that this place was terribly overpriced. It is charming, sure. It is, at best, a $200 per night hotel. PEAK!

You know when you have decades old tile and it can't be cleaned because it's just dingy? Well, that's the floors in this place. I really didn't want to walk barefoot in the room on this dirty tile floor.

I dropped my pillow on the floor and a huge dust bunny came back up with it with hair and everything.

The security gates make you feel like you're in Cuba. They are hideous.

The maids bang on doors and yell and you can hear them coming from 8 rooms down. Very annoying. Chinese water torture-like.

All in all, this place wants you to think it's High End and it SO is not.

The staff, up until checkout was nice. They reserved a car for me no problem. Although, considering 15% of the tax is a service fee, I ended up paying $200 for them to book me a car. Don't we have the internet for that these days?

Please stay away from Puerto Rico. It is not worth it.

  • Stayed: March 2009, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank sillyrabbitt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
ElConvento, General Manager at Hotel El Convento, responded to this reviewResponded 11 March 2009

We are sorry that you experienced some difficulties during your stay at Hotel El Convento. Tablet Hotels is one our valued partners and we have never had any problems with reservations booked through them, but we will speak to them to clarify this situation. In the meantime, I am pleased that you were able to work with my staff to make the adjustments to your bill. Please be advised that we have also found the password you left and will send it to you directly. If you'd like to discuss this matter further please feel free to contact me at 787-723-9020 or erosa@elconvento.com.
Regards,
Efrain Rosa, General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 March 2009

A girlfriend and I stayed at the El Convento for 5 days/4 nights. It is a beautiful old hotel with charm. The staff are extremely helpful and friendly. Our favorite were two helpful bellhops - Jaime and Jeshua. Always ready with a "Hello - how was your day?". We had an easy check in (although the area is small and if there are more than two groups checking in, you'll have to wait out in the entryway). We had a nice unexpected surprise upon arrival. We booked a standard two bed room, and was upgraded to a suite for no charge - YEAH! I would recommend that you ask for a room that does not face Cristo. It is a busy street and on the weekends, there are people partying well into the night (ie...I kept getting woken up until 4am).

The overall location is great - we had an easy time getting around Old San Juan. Its pretty central to the Forts - San Cristobal and El Morro - as well as quick access to the SoFo area for bars and trendy restaurants.

Upon check-in our bags were promptly taken up to our room and we were given a "tour" of our suite explaining many of the features - like flat screen TVs and free WiFi in the rooms. They also have a nice turndown service every day. The rooms are charming - bathroom a little small. Tile floors and some of the corners (less traffic areas) were a bit dusty. As an old hotel, I did have some allergy problems - which I attribute to the older building, b/c when we went outside - no problems at all. They do not replace your toiletries everyday - and we had to ask for them - which I was disappointing....For the price you pay at the 5 star, I don't think you should have to ask.

They do have great amenities - everyday they have a wine and cheese happy hour for guests from 6-7pm. Nice selection - four whites and four reds - along with about 10 different cheeses and grapes for a snack. Bottled water is free in your room - but like the toiletries, you'll have to ask for more bottles when you run out.. You also have access to a modern resort hotel on the beach - La Concha (which is a part of the Renaissance Hotel chain). The La Concha was very nice and you can go and have everything charged back to your room at the El Convento. Just ask at the El Convento front desk for a letter to get you access to the resort and its beach.

They have three restaurants on-site. We tried two - the courtyard restaurant for breakfast - and the tapas restaurant. They will tell you its the best in San Juan...which I wouldn't disagree with since we didn't go to another Tapas place...but I didn't find the food fantastic. I've had better tapas. They do have a nightly Flamenco show - which you can see on the balconies of the interior courtyard while enjoying the nightly wine and cheese happy hour.

If you're renting a car, be prepared to pay for your parking. Its a very small lot next to the hotel, but guests always get priority in parking and you can charge it to your room. We paid $25 for our rental car for the whole week, but paid $80 in parking fees. Getting around the area is easy...its mapped out like a grid, and everyone knows where the El Convento is located. Be prepared for traffice on small one way streets.

Overall, we really liked the hotel but I think it is a little overpriced for $300+/night.

Here's a brief summary:
PRO: Happy Hour each night, free upgrade, friendliness of the staff, access to La Concha resort and beach
CON: Bit dusty due to the old building; replenishing toiletries/bottled water, and parking

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled with friends
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5  Thank angelaho3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 3 March 2009

One night wasn't enough. We booked here for our last night in Puerto Rico after having been on Vieques Island for four days. This was an excellent way to end the trip, although relaxing on the breezy, third floor terrace just made me crave another day or two like that!

We booked the smallest room but were given an upgrade to a suite that had a balcony overlooking the church. We felt very pampered. We showered before the complementary wine/cheese reception and when we returned, staff had already changed our soap and had given us a new bar. Then we left for dinner (excellent choice = Marmalade, at the suggestion of the staff) and had turn-down service when we returned.

This is an expensive hotel, but I have to say that if you can swing it - even for a night - stay here. It's historical, the place is very clean, the staff are always available yet hardly ever in sight (unless you need something). There has to be at least two chairs in breezy, quiet out-of-the-way places for every guest! No problem finding a dreamy spot to sit - if you like shade, you can find it. Sun? You can find it. Breeze? Yep. Do you want to meet other guests and chat? There's always someone to chat with. Do you want it quiet and to be on your own? No problem. This was by far the lowest-key and most tranquil place I've been in a long time - and to think that it's in the heart of Old San Juan.

We kept our rental car while in Old San Juan and really should have returned it to the airport on our way to Old San Juan and just taken a cab from/to the airport. Street parking is a hassle in Old San Juan unless you get there right when day visitors are leaving and before night visitors arrive.

The walk outside the old wall is great. The gate to San Juan (which means, also, the gate OUT to the walkway) is just down the block from El Convento. Lots of cats live in the rocks, but we also saw a big iguana - maybe 3' long from head to tail, right on the rocks. We walked out on the pier at were prompted to look down into the water at the end of the pier. What a beautiful bunch of fish were swimming around and between the rocks!

The little tapas bar across the courtyard was excellent - Rosa de Triana. Jose - the owner/partner - was a fabulous bartender/host. If he's there when you go, ask him about flamenco and he might find a photo of himself with some famous flamenco dancers. We feel like he's a friend now. Their mofongo with chicken gravy was expensive but really good. The sangria, also expensive, was very good. Even so, our little lunch turned out to be one of our favorites we've ever had and was a beautiful way to close our trip to Puerto Rico.

About dinner at Marmalade in Old San Juan. They sold us on a four or five course meal. The smaller courses were nothing short of excellent and the staff were very willing to explain the food, how it was prepared, how it should be eaten, etc. We were a little disappointed in the main course, but everything else was absolutely scrumptious.

To sum it up - we were very pleased with El Convento. Why did I make this caption? Have you ever had a time when you needed to concentrate on a "happy place" in order to get through an ordeal? Well, this hotel is my happy place. Even when I'm not going through an ordeal!

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Here4Now
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 February 2009

It's hard to imagine adding much to this hotel's good reviews. You may feel it isn't worth the cost, which is a personal preference, or have an isolated bad experience, but this is a beautiful place in a great location and a great staff.

Years ago while walking through Old San Juan we needed a cab and the bell captain at the El Convento couldn't be more gracious in helping us get one. When we stayed here in February before a cruise they were as nice as they could be. Mr. Knucklehead here left our winter coats in the closet and the staff had them waiting for us at the end of the cruise, and they were glad to hold our luggage again, put some jewelry in their safe for a couple of hours, call us a cab, etc. like we were all old friends. The location is perfect for Old San Juan.

  • Stayed: February 2009, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank Travelating
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel El Convento

Address: 100 Cristo St | Old San Juan, San Juan 00901, Puerto Rico
Phone Number:
Region: Caribbean > Puerto Rico > San Juan
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Restaurant Room Service Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#1 Business Hotel in San Juan
#1 Romantic Hotel in San Juan
#1 Family Hotel in San Juan
#2 Luxury Hotel in San Juan
Price Range: £150 - £443 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4.5 star — Hotel El Convento 4.5*
Number of rooms: 58
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in the heart of historic Old San Juan, Hotel El Convento has set new standards of luxury, comfort and service while preserving the rich character of this former 16th century convent. This landmark treasure, a member of Historic Hotels of America and Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has earned four diamonds from AAA each year since its opening. This is the exclusive hotel experience to indulge the most discriminating of travelers, and is a hotel like no other. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Convento San Juan

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