San Juan, Puerto Rico offers activities to suit every style of travel—its coastal location is ideal for beach bums, Old San Juan is packed with historic sites, and Santurce is home to a blossoming food and art scene. And just as the city offers plenty of activities to suit those interests, it also offers accommodations for each.
Use this list to find the perfect place for your stay, whether that’s a resort hotel, a boutique hotel, or a family-run B&B.
San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
This resort is an ideal choice for travelers looking for a beach getaway that requires minimal planning—the hotel’s beachside location and long list of onsite recreation options and amenities make it possible to enjoy an entire vacation without having to leave the resort. (But if you want to, of course, you're within walking distance of many great shops and restaurants.)
The majority of the rooms have a standard hotel feel, but as soon as you step outside to the balcony, you’re greeted with sweeping views of either the ocean or the city. If you splurge for one of the penthouse suites, you have close to 360-degree views of the area. (The resort has undergone a $20 million renovation in the past year and is continuing its refurbishment in fall 2019, part of which will include a new sushi and poke bar to add to its existing dining options.)
No matter which room you’re in, the resort’s beach location means you’re just a few steps away from the surf and sand. Grab one of the available chairs to relax on the beach, or snag a seat by the pool instead. It’s got a swim-up bar for adults and a slide and play area for kids, meaning the entire family can enjoy a pool day. The resort also has a fitness center and classes, a spa, five dining options, a 13,000-square-foot casino (open 24 hours), and children’s games and activities.
After a 15-month closure due to Hurricane Maria that hit the island in 2017, Caribe Hilton completed a $150 million renovation and reopened in June 2019. Located between Condado and Old San Juan, the newly opened 652-room hotel has a large pool complex, a secluded beach, a spa, tropical gardens and bird sanctuary, and a fitness center with tennis and basketball amenities.
Fun fact: It’s rumored that the piña colada was first created here. While that’s been debated and other origin stories have spread, it probably doesn’t hurt to order one at one of the nine bars and restaurants on the property.
Hotel El Convento
This building in Old San Juan got its start in 1646 when it was constructed as a convent under order of King Phillip IV of Spain. Even though it’s now a hotel, you can still sense the history of the building preserved in its architecture, particularly the dramatic arches framing the open-air courtyard, and the antique furniture.
Admire the views of the bay while you relax in the rooftop pool, sample both traditional Puerto Rican dishes and Spanish-style tapas at the hotel’s main restaurant, Níspero, and enjoy nightly complimentary wine and cheese. Although it’s not convenient for a beach day (you can drive to the hotel’s two sister properties to gain beach access), it’s a great option for exploring the sights in Old San Juan. Step out onto the cobblestoned streets, and wander through other several nearby historic sights.
AC Hotel by Marriott San Juan Condado
The best part about the AC Hotel by Marriott San Juan Condado is the rooftop pool area. You can grab a seat by the pool (or one of the lounge chairs inside the pool to cool off), order a drink from the bar, and take in the sprawling 360-degree views of San Juan. It's also the spot for several events, such as Gin & Thursdays (guests can mix and match bitters, garnishes, and tonics to create a unique gin cocktail), Bohemian Night on Fridays (a menu of select tapas and wines and live music), and Blue Night Saturdays (an upbeat vibe with DJ music and bottle service menus).
The 233 guest rooms in the hotel have a modern, no-frills design, guests have two dining options, and there’s a library and business center adjacent to the lobby. The simplicity of the hotel is ideal for business travelers or those who plan to explore the area rather than spend most of their vacation at a hotel. And the location is very convenient for the latter, as it’s located centrally in the trendy Condado neighborhood and just a few miles away from other popular neighborhoods, such as Santurce and Old San Juan. Guests can also access the beach with a quick walk down Condado Street where they will also be able to use beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas.
Wellness devotees, look no further than The Dreamcatcher in the Ocean Park neighborhood. This boutique property comprising nine rooms and three suites is San Juan’s only vegetarian hotel—the daily breakfast and brunch is made from local, organic produce, and the menu also includes vegan and gluten-free options as well as several juice blends. (On various dates, they work with local chefs to serve a four-course vegan meal—check the website for dates.)
The hotel also offers yoga and meditation classes, guided tours, salsa nights, paddle-boarding (the beach is a two-minute walk), and bike rentals for exploring the area.
Casa Sol Bed & Breakfast
Staying at this Old San Juan B&B, run by Eddie Ramírez and Margarita Pastor, will let you experience the city like a local—the owners are eager to share their recommendations for food, salsa classes, sights to explore, and much more. (As a bonus, you can spend some time with the owners’ adorable rescue dog, a terrier named Oreo.) The B&B is housed in an 18th-century colonial building and has just five rooms, but each one is thoughtfully and uniquely decorated in a contemporary Spanish style. Each morning, you can enjoy a rotating daily breakfast menu with ingredients sourced from local farmers and suppliers (you can find a list on the website). They also offer an elopement package for any couples who are interested in a romantic, intimate ceremony in San Juan.
Its location is also ideal for sightseeing as it’s only about a five-minute walk to San Juan National Historic Site, Castillo de San Cristobal. There, you can learn about the 18-century fort and Puerto Rico’s history, and it’s also a great spot for photos with its panoramic views of the coast from Old San Juan past Condado.
O:LV Fifty Five
Those seeking some luxury and romance on their San Juan trip should book a stay at the adults-only O:LV Fifty Five (run by the same team behind the O:Live Boutique Hotel just a few blocks away). While each room’s decor is slightly different, every room drips with luxury, from the marble bathroom countertops to the velvety furniture and the chandelier light fixtures. A few of the rooms don’t have windows, but you can get your fill or gorgeous views from the rooftop area.
Speaking of, a highlight of this hotel is the infinity-style rooftop pool that overlooks the Condado Lagoon with city views just beyond. The rooftop dining area, Arya, offers breakfast and lunch (and weekend brunch) with indoor and outdoor seating, both with a view, or the restaurant on the first floor, Raya, serves Caribbean Asian cuisine and sake and Japanese whiskey-infused cocktails to pair with your meal.
The Gallery Inn
The Gallery Inn in Old San Juan practically doubles as a museum. Each room contains paintings, sculptures, and silk screens all created by founder and artist Jan D’Esopo. And the inn doesn’t stick to visual arts—the Cannon Club Piano Bar onsite also regularly hosts live music, including classical piano, jazz sessions, and more. (Open to the public, this bar is worth a stop on your night out even if you’re not a guest.) Check the website for scheduled events.
While the artworks around the hotel are reason enough to stay here, the accommodations are spacious, comfortable, and of course, beautifully and uniquely decorated. Each room contains Tempur-Pedic mattresses and pillows for maximum comfort, and you can also find some peace and quiet in one of the many gardens, the pool area, or the rooftop deck. With no TVs in the rooms and sometimes spotty Wi-Fi, this hotel is best for those looking to get away, unplug, and admire local art and culture.