Hotels in Puerto Rico

Many hotels in Puerto Rico are small, often family run places. The big advantage of this type of hotel is that usually you get a more personal service.

If you’re based in San Juan and planning to tour the island, all you may need out of town is is somewhere comfortable with clean sheets to lay your head for 1 or 2 nights.

San Juan

While many visitors staying in Isla Verde don’t step outside of their hotels for the entire stay, there are many hotels in Puerto Rico for people who do want to see the island.

Choosing a location in San Juan is easy – it has to be in or near the old town.

Two hotels that are right in Old San Juan are Hotel Milano and Gran Hotel El Convento dating from the 19th and 17th century respectively. For five-star luxury treatment head for the Wyndham Old San Juan Hotel & Casino.

Old San Juan is a fantastic area to stay with plenty of restaurants, bars and salsa. The downside is that although many locals head here for the nightlife, it is also something of a tourist trap too.

Just outside the old town is the Caribe Hilton. With a beach, a choice of nine restaurants and seafront pools, you can certainly pamper yourself. Close by is the more picturesque Normandy Hotel which had quite a reputation for decadent guests in the early 20th century.

The islands – Culebra and Vieques

One very popular destination for both visitors to Puerto Rico as well as locals is Culebra, one of the islands to the east of Puerto Rico.

Together with Vieques, the islands are known as the Spanish Virgin Islands.

As can be expected from such a tiny island, the choice of hotel accommodation is small. The limited number of rooms means that you should book well in advance to avoid disappointment – although this is good advice for any of the hotels in Puerto Rico.

You can easily get to Culebra by ferry from Fajardo, and there is a new service from San Juan too. Another option is to fly on one of the small airlines such as Air Flamenco.

Arriving in Culebra’s main town, Dewey, you’ll be amazed at how small it really is.

One of the most popular hotels in Culebra is Mamacita’s, a well-furnished guesthouse with an excellent restaurant servicing a variety of Caribbean dishes – probably the star among hotels in Puerto Rico of this size.

Other popular locations are Villa Flamenco Beach, right on Flamenco Beach, and Tamarindo Estates, a collection of 12 villas on a 60-acre private estate with beach and swimming pool – a mini resort.

Getting around is best by rental jeep, or by using one of the cheap and efficient local taxi services such as Willy’s Taxis (787-742-3537). The shared taxis are known as “publicos” and cost $2 per person.

Vieques is the larger cousin of Culebra and can be reached by ferry from Fajardo or from Culebra. The ferry arrives in Isabel Segunda, from where you can take one of the publicos to your destination for a small fare.

A word of warning regarding Vieques’ publicos – we were unable to arrange a publico from Esperanza on the south to catch our ferry.

None of the companies we called would send a publico and while some of the locals said that a queue of publicos would appear 90 minutes before the ferry was due to leave, it did not. We ended up asking a local guy for a lift, which he kindly obliged.

Of the several options in Esperanza, we stayed in one called Banana’s. It’s an old sugar plantation with basic but comfortable rooms and a bar and restaurant out front. Not all rooms have aircon, but they are equipped with surprisingly efficient ceiling fans – quite typical of hotels in Puerto Rico.

Another nice looking option is Trade Winds, which has a more up market restaurant serving fresh fish, including lobster.

The South – Ponce and La Parguera

Ponce, the “Pearl of the South” has a quite different character to San Juan and is a popular tourist destination.

The center if the city dates from the 19th century and consists of colonial style buildings. In February is the carnival at which time it is guaranteed that you’ll need to book – see more about Ponce hotels for information on where to stay.

La Parguera is a popular destination for weekend trips for the diving and its nightlife. We stayed at Hostal Casa Blanca, which has rather basic rooms with aircon.

Unfortunately you’re unlikely to get a good night’s sleep in Casa Blanca – the whirr of air conditioning units and the noise of other guests arriving and departing sees to that and out of all the hotels in Puerto Rico we stayed in this was the worst.

Another popular hotel is the Parador Villa Parguera which is good for its views of the sea – in fact it blocks the view of the Casa Blanca. With a swimming pool and restaurant the Villa Parguera fills up quickly so you need to book in advance.

Both hotels are close to Paradise Scuba Center.

The West – Rincon

If you hope to do some whale watching you should head for Rincon. Parador Villa Antonio – like many hotels in Puerto Rico – is right next to the beach.

West facing, this makes an ideal location for an evening stroll along the sand, or just watching the sunset while pelicans swoop into the sea for fish.

Villa Antonio has a swimming pool and tennis courts in its grounds and is ideal for families. Like many small hotels in Puerto Rico, the rooms were quite basic but included a kitchen area with equipment such a coffee maker.

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