10 of the Best Hotels In Puerto Rico
By Caribbean Journal Staff
Puerto Rico has never been hotter, buoyed by a pandemic-era boom that filled its hotels to capacity and put a new travel spotlight on the destination. It seems like new flights routes launch just about every week to the island, the airport is dizzyingly busy as travelers finally start to realize just how diverse, vibrant and, well, beach-filled the island actually is.
That includes a seemingly endless array of hotels and resorts across the island, from the Caribbean metropolis of San Juan to golf resorts at the edge of rainforests. The CJ team scours Puerto Rico’s hotels each year, and we’ve curated our rankings of the best places to stay on the island, making sure to highlight every kind of hotel. That means boutique hotels, wellness hotels, golf resorts, luxury resorts and even gaming destinations.
There really is a different kind of hotel in Puerto Rico for every kind of traveler, and we’ve done all the heavy lifting for you. All you have to do is decide what kind of Puerto Rico vacation you want: an urban getaway, a golf retreat, an Ayurvedic cleanse or a good-old-fashioned week on the sand.
Here are ten of the best hotels in Puerto Rico for 2023.
#1 Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve In the last few years, Dorado has become Puerto Rico’s most sought after destination, turning what had been a popular San Juan getaway into a global hotspot, with booming home prices, new luxury development and a new energy. Its epicenter is this: Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the island’s premier resort, one with almost 70 years of heritage dating back to its founding by Laurance Rockefeller. It’s also, for now, the only Ritz-Carlton Reserve, the brand’s elevated collection, in the Caribbean.
Today, Dorado Beach is a serene, exquisite luxury resort, with 114 rooms, the stunning Spa Botanico, three signature eateries and two outstanding golf courses, including the only TPC (Tournament Players Club) course in the Caribbean.
The rooms themselves are fantastic, all with their own private plunge pools and either verandas or rooftops, along with outdoor showers and other lovely touches.
Guests have access to the broader Dorado Beach country club complex, with everything from XX to what is almost certainly the world’s most beautiful water park, built to look like the ruins of an old sugar plant.
It’s the best hotel in Puerto Rico, period.
#2 St Regis Bahia Beach Resort A strong number two on the island is the St Regis Bahia Beach. The luxury resort, set on more than two miles of beachfront on the northeastern coast of Puerto Rico, has 139 bright, colorful rooms and a growing collection of luxury villas (part of a broader residential component). Dining concepts re range from the Greek-focused Paros restaurant to the Seagrapes restaurant in view of the ocean.
The spa here, called Iridium, is fantastic, as is the fitness center, and there is golf, too: a Robert Trent Jones Jr course.
It’s what you expect from the St Regis brand: immaculate service, crisp, sleek design and the comfort of secluded serenity.
#3 Condado Vanderbilt Hotel Let’s be honest. While Puerto Rico has a number of great resorts across the island, the vast majority of visitors to the island still come for one major attraction: the fabulous city of San Juan. And the city’s best hotel is a luxury urban resort: the Condado Vanderbilt. Set in San Juan’s upscale yet fun-filled Condado neighborhood, the Condado Vanderbilt is the reimagining of a property that dates back to 1919, one that followed decades of disuse. Now, it’s a stunning, charming, elegant place to stay that marries state-of-the-art hospitality with the sort of old-world grandeur and elegance that are not that easy to find anymore. The Vanderbilt is home to 317 rooms across two different towers in a waterfront location that includes a sparkling “Beach Club” (more of a pool club, but still outstanding) anchored by an ocean-view infinity pool and terrific pool and beach butlers.
The Vanderbilt is also home to arguably the most diverse, exciting culinary offering of any hotel on the island: that includes the signature 1919 restaurant (one of the best eateries in all of Puerto Rico), the Mexican-inspired Tacos & Tequila, a Caribbean outpost of popular steakhouse brand STK and the marvelous AVO Lounge, among others.
#4 OLV: Fifty Five No hoteliers have had more of an impact on Puerto Rican hospitality in recent years than Loisse Herger and Fernando Davila, who sent shockwaves through the island with their first hotel, O:live, in Condado back in 2012, an innovative, Mediterranean-inspired boutique hotel of the sort that simply hadn’t existed in Puerto Rico. That followed with their flagship, the OLV: Fifty Five, a 15-room stunner just down the street in Condado that is as sleek and sexy a hotel as there is in the Caribbean, with indulgent, glorious bathrooms, a spectacular rooftop eatery and lounge and outstanding food by celebrity chef Mario Pagan.
#5 Royal Isabela Puerto Rico boasts one of the top golf offerings in the Caribbean. But The Links at Royal Isabela just might be the best course on the island. The cliffside course is a mix of Caribbean tropical design and oceanside Scottish-style holes. But the course is just the beginning at this luxury resort on the northwestern corner of the island. Every “casita” at the 20-unit resort has its own plunge pool; venture beyond your villa and you’ll find terrific locally-sourced dining, a wonderful bar called Croquet and a breathtaking stretch of beachfront.
#6 Fairmont El San Juan It’s San Juan’s iconic hotel: the Fairmont El Juan Hotel in Isla Verde, a resort that during the Jet Set era drew everyone from Frank Sinatra to Nat King Cole. After a massive renovation project, the hotel has never looked better, and now it’s added a significant new amenity: the first-ever Foxwoods casino in the Caribbean, a 15,000-square-foot gaming destination with a full offering of slots, table games and, soon, a DraftKings sports book.
The 388-room hotel is a classic beach resort with four pools, frequent live music, a beach club and a vibrant food scene that also includes the Caribbean’s only Meat Market steakhouse. It doesn’t hurt that the resort is set on Isla Verde, one of the best beaches on the island and certainly the best beach in metropolitan San Juan.
#7 Wyndham Grand Rio Mar The first thing that stands out at this hotel about 45 minutes from San Juan is just how beautiful the property itself is. There’s the rainforest in the background, the golden sand at the edge of the sea. The resort is as complete as any in Puerto Rico: a trio of pools, a 20,000-square-foot “sundeck”; a surprisingly broad culinary program (10 food and beverage outlets in total), and almost 50,000 square feet of meeting space.
Most notably, on an island where the golf is outstanding, the golf here is right near the top, with a pair of spectacular courses managed by Troon Golf.
#8 Hotel El Convento Old San Juan is the kind of neighborhood you instantly fall in love with. The colors of the colonial buildings. The fortresses. The cafes. The shopping. But these half-millennium-old streets can be daunting for the uninitiated, particularly when choosing where to stay. But we’ll make it easy: El Convento. This endlessly charming historic hotel (the building itself dates back to 1646) has 58 rooms in a convenient setting in the heart of the old town. The centerpiece here is the beautiful multi-level, open-air courtyard, home to a terrific bar and an authentic restaurant with delicious mofongo.
The rooms are nice, tending toward the historic look; amenities include a 24-hour fitness center, meeting space for up to 300 and a lovely rooftop pool.
#9 Aire de O:live The newest O:live hotel in Puerto Rico is a reimagining of the San Juan Water and Beach Club in Isla Verde. The 80-room tower is a masterpiece, a complete redefinition of the modern Caribbean beach hotel, with earthy but sleek rooms with sparkling views of Isla Verde blue. In tune with the O:live brand, there’s a rooftop bar and restaurant, a Japanese fusion spot called Kumo.
One thing to note: it’s not completely finished. That means some of the floors have been “converted” into the Aire de O:live, while some lower floors are still San Juan Water Club rooms. When it’s finished, it will be one of the hottest places to stay anywhere in the Caribbean.
#10 Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve Another excellent golf resort, the Hyatt is home to a pair of 18-hole championship courses designed by Tom Kite, frequently home to the PGA Tour’s Puerto Rico Open. The 579-suite resort has myriad pools, a “Rainforest” spa, and even a collection of “villas” for larger groups. The food and beverage concepts are vast: a teppanyaki spot, a a sushi eatery, an American steakhouse and several colorful bars. And for golfers who want to extend their days beyond the course, there’s a TopGolf Swing Suite at the resort’s Sand Trap bar.
These are just ten of the Caribbean Journal Staff’s twenty top hotels on the island. For the full list and information on the others, log on to caribjournal.com.
Publishers Note: We are happy to partner with Alexander Britell, Founder and Editor in Chief of the Miami, Florida based Caribbean Journal and his staff contributing to the OTC and our Caribbean Connection Section. Check out the popular online magazine/website at caribjournal.com for valuable information on all fabulous travel options and things of interest in the Caribbean.