I booked my trip to Nica two weeks before I left because I just needed to get away from the snow storms in Philly. I wanted a spot to just chill for a week, but also snorkel, light surfing and paddle boarding. I had known about SJDS from friends in Nica( I had stayed in Tola the previous year). My criteria for choosing a hotel were: central location, near the beach, and a/c just in case of hot, humid night as i have a bit of asthma. Also, the hotel MUST be Nica owned, this is very important to me. All conditions met!
First of all, from the photos i saw, I had the idea that the hotel was located atop the Barrio Cafe, thus the entrance would be outside, but the rooms are adjacent, in the back of the cafe - very safe entrance, very nice!(although Nica is listed as the safest country in Central America, by many different sites)
The room was exactly what I needed and more for a solo traveler. Most will come with two double beds, so I could lay out all my clothes and gear on the one, although a shelving unit and hangers are provided. The bathroom was good too, with adequate water pressure. (remember you are in a surfer/fishing beach town, this will not be the Ritz Carlton, and for the $, I felt I got more than I expected. The infrastructure in these towns will not yet allow for the type of water pressure a lot of us are used to , but it was more than adequate)
For me, one of the highlights of this hotel was the Barrio Cafe which, along with the two taco shacks next door, is the same owner. I can tell you I think I had almost every meal here with the exception of only a couple other places tried , but I kept coming back.
Firstly, the staff and I quickly were on a first name basis. The bartender Alfredo, always had that welcoming smile in the morning and would ask about your previous day. He was always full of travel tips and off the beaten path advice and a few jokes and winks ;). Also, he makes the best mojitos and margaritas in the town, no doubt!
The breakfast served is a North American/Europeans delight- everything from 'excellent' cappuccinos / lattes to omelets, French toast, breakfast burritos, fruit/granola/yogurt, and yes, a Philly/NY staple...smoked salmon/bagel! I really expected to rough it with food as I normally do and eat a lot of local dishes, but the menu here could easily stand up to a neighborhood cafe in Philly, even New York.
As a former bar/restaurant owner, I can tell you I had an appreciation for the way things were being run. The manager, Samuel was very friendly and always welcoming, clearly he has good people skills and has a good rapport with his staff which keep things running smoothly.
One of the great things about the Barrio Cafe is that it has many different settings. I could just go in for a drink at the bar and conversation with Alfredo or the always smiling, Graysie, or sit on the side with a big opening facing the street and people watch. If you want a nice meal and table space, theres a dining room surrounded by lush greenery or a large banquettes with long tables to curl up with you book and a latte or with a bunch of friends you've met. I wont forget one of the servers, Ariel, who always took an interest in my activities of the day... such genuinely nice people, all of them. I wanted to write this review in appreciation for who they are and what they do well.
I know they plan some renovations for the fall and will add more rooms and more amenities and food and drink options. I can tell you that I plan to return to revisit such a wonderful place and wonderful people!
Thank you Pitayuna and special thanks to Barrio Cafe! Hello to Samuel, Alfredo, Ariel, Graysie, Chef Erick for his wonderful creations, the hotel reception who were wonderful and the to the owner and the rest of the staff...I wish you continued success!! Hasta Pronto!!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Barrio Cafe Hotel, is a small hotel strategically located on the center of San Juan del sur. We are just one block away from the gorgeous horse shoe bay, surrounded by many local stores, bars, and restaurants. We also have for your service our beautiful Barrio Cafe restaurant where you can enjoy great food, drinks, and coffee. ... more less
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