The beach, the fancy hotels, the high-end retail boutiques and the outstanding dining scene have all combined to make San Juan's Condado neighborhood a truly desirable destination.
Factor in a nightlife scene that includes beachfront lounges, laid-back bars, casinos and hotel lobbies that double as meet-and-mingle hotspots, and you'll understand why so many locals and tourists enjoy hanging out in this part of town.
Here are just a few places worth checking out when you're spending a San Juan night in Condado.
Offering three levels of lounge space right on Condado Beach, Oceano brings a bit of South Beach chic to the neighborhood. Choose from the Luna rooftop bar, with its panoramic ocean views, the Brisas Lounge, with its mix of indoor and outdoor spaces and clean white decor, or the outdoor La Playa Bar, which, of course, offers access to the beach.
The Lobby at La Concha Resort
As soon as it reopened, the Renaissance La Concha became one of the hottest places to be, thanks to its lobby lounge. Lounge chairs, ottomans, and communal tables surround a central bar, and the neon lighting, specialty cocktails, and pumping music invite you to relax and soak in the atmosphere. The concierge and reception desk is off to one side, and the other public spaces of the hotel -- its restaurants, casino, and outdoor pool -- are all removed from the lobby area, giving both guests and loungers their own space.
If you prefer a more chill environment, there's a pleasant outdoor area as well.
Red Coral Lounge at the San Juan Marriott Stellaris Resort & Casino
Renovated in January 2012, the new Red Coral Lounge at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino is a sleek and cosmopolitan nocturnal destination highlighted by a long, polished bar surrounded by intimate and social "zones." A live band plays Latin music, and the metal and wood accents include the magnificent wooden "coral reef" sculpture at the entrance of the lounge. It's one of the many works of art created by renowned local artists, giving the Red Coral Lounge a distinctly Puerto Rican touch.
Eternal Lobby Lounge at the Conrado Condado Plaza
On my list of best lounges in San Juan, Eternal offers three separate lounge spaces spread out in the expansive lobby of the Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel. Moon Bar, Ice Bar, and Fire Bar offer different environments, giving you a place to dance, enjoy on-screen entertainment on a flat-screen TV, or simply see and be seen.
Located next to Bar Gitano, Roberto Treviño's whimsical homage to Spanish cuisine, El Barril is a restaurant with a 28-foot bar that stays open late. Mixing booths often welcome DJs when live bands aren't pumping up the crowd.
You can't miss La Terraza, or "The Terrace," a concrete gazebo in the heart of Condado at the intersection of Ashford Avenue and Magdalena Street. Attracting a loyal crowd for its cheap beers and margaritas, the place usually gets more crowded as the week rolls into the weekend. There's space to hang out or dance to reggaetón beats.
Finally, if you'd rather spend a late night courting lady luck, Condado has several hotels that also boast ample casinos. Test your mettle (and your bank account) and enjoy a variety of table games and slots at the following properties:
- The Renaissance La Concha Resort
- The San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino
- The Conrad San Juan Condado Plaza Hotel
- The Diamond Palace Hotel & Casino
- The Radisson Ambassador Plaza Hotel & Casino