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The Best of San Juan

8 reasons to fall in love with the Condado Plaza, Hilton

Exploring a city that rolls out the red carpet for guests

We recently spent two nights at the Condado Plaza Hilton in the Condado Beach area near San Juan, Puerto Rico. It was the final stop on our energetic tour of Puerto Rico's north coast. Puerto Rico as a vacation destination has something for everyone: shopping, fine and casual dining, history and spa time.

I was ready to relax and decompress and this hotel felt like a great choice. 

Condado Plaza Hilton beachfrontThe Condado Plaza Hilton is a sprawling hotel that spans both sides of Ashford Avenue, connecting its halves by a walkway. To feel more a part of the resort proper, book a room in the ocean tower. Decor is art deco style: cool, minimalistic and stark white with bright splashes of color.

8 reasons why I loved my stay at Condado Plaza

Reason 1: A great pool scene. Not in a night clubby, see-and-be-seen sort of way, although I'm sure it can be that too. We found it to be a comfortable, casual and unpretentious way to spend a few hours while the kids played in the pool and on the waterslide, just steps from the beach.

Reason 2: A fun swim-up bar. While this could technically be part of my first point, it deserves its own place on the list.

great comfortable styled roomsReason 3: The view. For the best views, reserve an upper-floor oceanfront guest room in the Ocean Tower; which will also give you access to the facilities you'll use most. Then grab a drink and sit on your balcony.

Reason 4: The Vegas-style casino. I'm generally a non-gambler but I found it a fun way to spend an hour one evening. I won $200 in the slot machine so I may be a bit biased.

Reason 5: The beach. The Condado Plaza Hilton has what every Las Vegas Hotel and Casino is missing: a beach. Not a fake, manufactured beach but an honest to goodness real beach.

Reason 6: The dining scene. We didn’t have time to eat at the onsite restaurants, but it would take a couple of days to work through the various dining options. The choices range from casual chain restaurants (Denny's and Starbucks) to gourmet (Pikayo, known as one of the best restaurants on the island) and everything in between.

Reason 7: The location. I've been resisting comparing this stretch of Ashford Avenue to Miami's South Beach, but the resemblance is undeniable. Ashford Avenue can go from glamorous to run down all in the same block so use common sense and caution. Think pricey retail shops mixed in with abandoned buildings. Still, we felt safe walking around at night.

water slides and fun for kidsReason 8: Kids love it! The hotel boasts a small, safe stretch of beach, adjacent fitness playground, water slide and activity pool. This means there is plenty to keep the young ones entertained and occupied. My kids couldn’t get enough of the fish tank in the ultramodern lobby.

Planning your time in San Juan

When you’re ready to explore the area, drive into Old San Juan where parking in multi-level decks is fairly easy to find and plentiful. If a cruise ship is in port, you'll encounter some crowds but also a more festive atmosphere because the city rolls out the red carpet for cruisers. And then get ready to have fun with this list of San Juan activities.

  • enjoy the luxury and ambienceWander around the famous blue cobblestone streets steeped in history and abundant shopping.
  • Take the free green trolley (not narrated) to get where you're going quickly or to get out of the heat.
  • Make a stop at El Morro for unforgettable vistas, cool breezes and rich history of the port city.
  • Enjoy a late lunch at Lupi's Mexican Grill for a fusion of Mexican and Puerto Rican cuisine.
  • Spend the late afternoon and early evening hours lounging at the main pool area and float up to Aqua Bar's swim-up bar while the kids play on the water slide.
  • Stroll down Ashford Avenue in search of dinner at one of the many restaurants located within walking distance of the hotel.
  • Try your hand at a wide variety of gaming in the large casino.

This is better than a Vegas vacation when you factor in the beach!

view of the Condado Plaza Hilton pool Return to your hotel late afternoon and spend some time along the tiny stretch of beach behind the Condado Plaza Hilton. As the sun begins to set, move to the bar for last call and stay poolside in the fun, tropical atmosphere until everyone is tired of swimming and declares hunger. Dinner is at one of the many restaurants onsite or anywhere you want on Ashford Avenue.

If you’d like to learn more about the Condado Plaza Hilton, visit them online at condadoplaza.com, Facebook or Twitter and read what other travelers have to say about them on TripAdvisor.com.

Ever been to San Juan? What’s your favorite thing to do in the city? Find us on Twitter or Facebook and let's start talking!

 

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