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Did you know that in Puerto Rico, all the casinos are in hotels? Ah, but which hotels have the best gaming? In San Juan, these ones stand out.
El San Juan Hotel and Casino
The grandaddy of them all, the El San Juan Hotel & Casino is in a class by itself among casino hotels. It's got a storied history; this is where the A-list celebrities like the original Brat Pack used to hang out, and today's stars still come here for a good time. With a lavish lobby, lounge and bar area that is always hopping, and terrific live salsa bands adding to the buzz, it's one of the few places where the hottest action might be away from the tables.
The casino is a sprawling affair, with 13,000 square feet of gaming space featuring Blackjack, Craps, Baccarat, Roulette, Caribbean Stud Poker, and 300 slot machines.
Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel and Casino
The newest hotel on this list, the large and well-appointed Sheraton also boasts the largest casino in Puerto Rico, with 20,000 square feet of gaming space. The hotel's Casino Metro has almost 450 slot machines and 16 table games, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat, pai gow poker and three-card poker. Hardcore gamers can sign up for the M Players Club, a points card that can be redeemed for reward dollars.
A very cool feature of the casino is its entertainment niches reserved for live bands and mingling. An oval bar on the floor is a nice meeting point, but my favorite feature was the second-floor enclave where a funky trio livened up the atmosphere with '80s covers.
Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino
Of all the casino hotels in San Juan, the Condado Plaza feels most like a Vegas property. It's the first hotel you come across as you enter Condado from Old San Juan. At over 12,000 square feet, it's among the largest casinos in San Juan, and it's open 24 hours-a-day. When you're ready for a break, check out the Cocolobo lounge and club for drinks, food, and live music.
Condado Plaza Hotel and Casino features include Over 400 slot machines, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette and Texas Hold-em (this is one of only a handful of casinos in San Juan that features Hold-em games).
The Ritz-Carlton, San Juan Hotel, Spa and Casino
The Ritz's first casino lives up to the brand's reputation for elegance. This large casino wins major style points and is decorated in a throwback style you might see in Monte Carlo. I also give it props for having a cigar maker rolling fresh cigars just outside and a new lounge on the second floor to break up the action. Open 24 hours-a-day, it's also got plenty of gaming, including Blackjack, Roulette, Caribbean Stud Poker, and over 300 slot machines.
Marriott San Juan Resort and Stellaris Casino
With its right-on-the-beach location in Condado, beautiful outdoor pool, and renovated rooms, the Marriott is a well-priced favorite. Its casino is no less popular and is known for its friendly staff. Occupying a spacious 12,000 square feet, it conforms to the more popular classic European look that you find in so many of Puerto Rico's casinos.
Features include Blackjack, Roulette, Craps, Caribbean Stud Poker, and slot machines.