San Juan, the capital of Puerto Rico and one of the largest and oldest cities in the Caribbean, is a sprawling city of about 500,000 people, according to a 2008 U.S. Census estimate. The city, founded in 1521, is divided into distinct neighborhoods, each with its own character and hotels. Visitors can choose from historic Old San Juan, the upscale Condado area, the resort area of Dorado and the convenient airport hotels.
Hotels in Old San Juan
Old San Juan, located on the shores of San Juan Bay, is the heart of the original Spanish colony on Puerto Rico. This architectural gem of a neighborhood was founded in 1521 and features a number of hotels steps away from outlet shopping, a cornucopia of restaurants, and historic sites like El Morro Castle, the Cathedral de San Juan and more than 400 restored 16th and 17th century buildings. Among the best places to stay in Old San Juan are El Convento, a former convent that was converted into a luxury hotel. Located on the western side of the walled city, this AAA four-star property features complimentary, wireless Internet access throughout, a charming open-air courtyard restaurant and plunge pool with a view of San Juan Bay.
Located about three miles east of Old San Juan is the upscale resort area of Condado. This narrow, oceanfront neighborhood was developed in the early 20th century when wealthy American families, including the Vanderbilts, constructed vacation homes here. Today, the neighborhood is known for its stretch of white sand beach, big-name fashion boutiques and diverse collection of restaurants. Condado hotels include the 910-unit, three-star Caribe Hilton, located on 17 beachfront acres at the western edge of Condado, and the comfortable 25-room El Canario bed-and-breakfast inn, one block from the beach.
Hotels near San Juan Airport
San Juan's Luis Munoz Marin International Airport is just southeast of San Juan. A major Caribbean gateway, the airport handles more than 4 million passengers annually, according to airport statistics. Best Western Hotels operate a hotel directly on the airport grounds, just steps from the American Airlines ticket counter. This AAA two-star property features complimentary wireless Internet, a complimentary buffet breakfast and a small, on-site casino. Another alternative near the airport is the Intercontinental San Juan Resort and Casino, three miles from the airport in the luxury Isle Verde section of San Juan. This 293-room, beachfront hotel features a 24-hour oceanfront fitness center, a full spa, four restaurants and a casino.
Dorado Beach Hotels
Located about 45 minutes west of Old San Juan, Dorado was once the private property of the Rockefeller clan. Today, the beachfront resort boast two luxury hotels, the Hyatt Hacienda del Mar Resort and Embassy Suites del Mar Beach and Golf Resort. The beachfront, all-suite Hyatt features three restaurants, an Olympic-size swimming pool, tennis courts and a full spa. The Embassy Suites offers three restaurants, a free-form swimming pool and a private beach. Guests at both hotels have access to the area's four championship golf courses.
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