El Convento is no longer a Small Luxury Hotel… but rather a Large Overpriced Hostel
Reviewed 26 September, 2021
Deeply saddened and disappointed in our recent stay at El Convento, where my husband and I have been staying and dining for the past 14 years when visiting Old San Juan on business and holiday. Granted, Old San Juan has had its challenges since Hurricane Maria and the COVID19 pandemic, but neither is an excuse for the disrepair and general decay we encountered just three days ago, which led to an early check out.
We had reserved a terrace room for six nights and checked out after only two for multiple hospitality infractions. Those included, but we’re not limited to, the following:
1). Strong sewage odor in our room upon check in;
2) The curtains had fallen off its rod and had been left hanging prior to our arrival;
3) The in-room coffee maker was non-functional;
4) The bathroom door knob broke and we were locked out of our bathroom, which required maintenance to show up and let us in our own bathroom, a rather horrible and embarrassing experience;
5) Only one of three onsite restaurants were open with limited hours and menu. Further to that, on-site there were no open areas where we could get water, coffee, nor any other basic amenities that were historically available at this hotel. And, at $355 per night, this was unconscionable; and
6). Our room had a LIVE cucaracha that I chased up and killed to prevent from getting into our personal belongings.
These are just handful compared to the many other negative experiences we encountered at this SLH property.
For such a beloved richly historic hotel that has such warm memories for us, we were devastated to see this old classic in such disrepair, with no observable effort made to solve for this and keep guests happy at El Convento. It’s just very, very sad.
Over-hyped and poor value
Reviewed 4 September, 2021
I went into this stay with high expectations and a high price tag, and found only an overall average experience. Here are the positives and negatives in my eyes:
- The building is gorgeous. All of the common areas have a real sense of history and atmosphere.
- The location is super walkable for sightseeing and restaurants in Old City.
- Coin laundry was convenient.
- The air conditioning was up to the challenge of August in Puerto Rico.
- There's an adorable and friendly cat that visits the hotel grounds.
- Fitness center: It was hard to find a hotel with a fitness center in Old City, and it was one of the reasons we chose El Convento. It was underutilized, so my husband and I had it to ourselves during each visit. That said, a lot of the machines were in poor repair. Neither of the treadmills were usable (one with a computer error, one with a 1.5 inch tripping hazard on the tread), the weight machine had no labels on the weight amounts, and it was the sketchiest yoga mat.
- Fridge/freezer: Only the fridge part worked, since the entire freezer was iced over.
- Front desk: The check-in clerk was snobby and unwelcoming, but other staff we spoke to were much friendlier.
- Housekeeping: We would have expected to have housekeeping come twice in our 3 night stay. The housekeeper only came by between 9 and 10 am, and when we said we needed time to clear out/come back in 20 minutes, she never came back. So we didn't get any housekeeping.
- General polish: I get that it's an old building, so the worn floors are part of the charm. But there was dirty looking caulk along our bathtub and weird marks on the mirror--these aren't historical details, so for a luxury hotel in a $300+/night room, I expect it to be immaculate.
In summary, you can do better for the value in Old City, without staying in a boring chain hotel or losing walkability. We would not stay here again.
Wannabe Boutique Hotel
Reviewed 2 September, 2021
While the facility has potential. it's a long way from what is advertised and what travellers would expect from Small Luxury Hotels of the World. Whoever wrote their marketing copy obviously never stayed there and should win an award for best fiction writer.
We checked in on August 29 and checked out August 31. The pool, hidden on the fourth floor, was barely a dipping pool and the few chairs took up all the deck space. The restaurant and open air courtyard bars / restaurant were lacking in just about everything you would expect. The outdoor planters are a great litter box for the cats that roam the property. We did have a stunning view of the mold covered building across the alleyway. Customer service is non-existent. I left an expensive pair of pants and two shirts in the closet - admittedly, my mistake. However, I called tht same evening upon realizing my mistake and was told there was nothing in the lost and found, and they would have housekeeping check. They promised a callbck. Nothing. I called again the next day and was told the same thing. Nothing. I called again the next day and was told the same thing. Nothing. Called again the next day and asked for a manager. The person who answered the phone said no manager was available and that she had a note that nothing was found. This is the worst customer service experience I have ever had. No empathy, no apology, no action. All they had to do was to send someone to the room the first day (called within a few hours of checking out), and the whole experience would have been different. We will NEVER stay there again and advise all our friends to stay away. I can't express enough how poor this experience was.
Great location... but it is not what you expect
Reviewed 11 August, 2021
I have stayed at El Convento many years ago... and what I found this time it is nothing similar... really: it is pity.
The location and whole idea of the convent converted in Hotels is great. But an old edification like this needs maintenance, and constant update to compete with their younger similar.
I found this hotel so expensive in comparison to what it has to offer that I recommend anyone to stay away from it.
Who says it is a 5 stars? Forget it. The bathrooms are dirty and need urgent maintenance. The toiletries are mismatch and so cheap that I am sure that at a Holiday Inns are ten times better. So the bed: horrible and small: no covers: if you are cold at night, try to resolved with just a thin bedsheet.
No sandals or robes (even when they say you will find them in their advertising) and no telephone or room service.
Attention: Members of the Small Luxury Hotels of The World! Remove this from your list or you are losing prestige.
I will never return there.
So my family, friend or any one that hear my recommendation.
Reviewed 7 August, 2021
The property was beautiful, I loved the ambiance. The check in experience was lovely. I was greeted with a warm and welcoming smile by the front desk team. We arrived earlier than expected and offered to hold our luggage until the room became available.
The courtyard area was really beautiful and serene, nice shaded areas with a lot of photo opportunities.
I was handed the room keys (like actual keys!), which added to the experience of the overall stay. The room was great! Nice view of the water. It was a great size room for us. Space to walk around without our luggage getting in the way.
At checkout, it was a bit challenging getting a taxi but the bellman (I think his name was Kevin) was a tremendous help! He called a taxi for us, once it arrived he helped us load our luggage and saw us off.
I would definitely recommend this hotel if you are staying in Old San Juan. It is a beautiful and historic gem located by all the fun hotspots. I cannot wait for my next visit!