Quick taxi trips to Santo Domingo’s financial, cultural, and historic districts
Lovely outdoor pool, terrace, and garden area
All rooms feature a balconies and flat-screen TVs
Two restaurants and tapas bar with room service and all-day dining
Small casino with slot machines and table games
Free breakfast for Club Embajador Rooms and Royal Club guests
Ballroom and event space
Free Wi-Fi throughout
Free self-parking in secure, private lot
Tourist attractions are not within walking distance
Some rooms are far more dated than others
Rooms lack expected amenities like coffeemakers and unlimited bottled water
Breakfast not included with entry-level rooms
Situated in the heart of Santo Domingo, the four-pearl Occidental El Embajador is within a short drive of the city’s main financial, cultural, and historic districts. The dated, '80s-era architecture and decor detract from the hotel's grandeur and solid list of resort-like amenities, particularly for a downtown city hotel. Although it lacks a beach, the lovely pool area, well-manicured grounds, a small casino, and several restaurants and bars tick many of the essential boxes for a Caribbean getaway. Each of the hotel’s 286 rooms are clean and include free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and private balconies. Guests looking for a boutique alternative may wish to consider the Billini Hotel.
City center resort that is torn between upscale and dated styles
Like many similar Santo Domingo properties, Occidental El Embajador is large enough to look like a resort but small enough to feel cozier and more inviting than a typical mega-resort. Much of the hotel features a transitional decor that blends traditional furniture with contemporary finishes and accessories. The atmosphere is quiet and reserved, with a design that feels regal at first, though looks a bit dated up close. For instance, the blue and red upholstery on chairs and sofas in the lobby is worn, and the clashing patterns in carpets and textiles don't scream sophistication, despite the abundance of marble. An enormous glass chandelier hangs over a grand piano and large potted ferns provide a splash of color throughout the lobby. Attractive portraits on the wall lend a bit of contemporary spice to the mix of styles. The outdoor spaces vary widely from traditional Spanish Colonial at the El Jardin patio to contemporary elegance on the Royal Club level terrace. The hotel attracts a large number of business travelers, and though some couples and families on vacation stay here as well, it's not ideal for touring the city's historic sights on foot.
On a downtown commercial strip in the heart of Santo Domingo
Occidental El Embajador is situated on and near several well-traveled roads that run through the city. The large, modern Bella Vista Mall and a handful of restaurants are within walking distance. However, the Colonial Zone and many of the city’s other popular tourist attractions will require a car or taxi ride to visit. Traffic can be a beast in Santo Domingo, and attractions like Alcazar de Colon and Catedral Primada de America can both take up to 30 minutes to reach by taxi. Free self parking is provided in a secure lot at the hotel.
Las Americas International Airport is 45 minutes away by car and, like many hotels in the area, Occidental El Embajador does not offer a dedicated airport shuttle. Taxi service is readily available between the hotel and airport, however, rates are often high. Tourists should be always cautious of private cab drivers and agree on a fixed fare in advance. Larger groups may wish to research private shuttle transfer to/from the airport as rates are typically determined on a more affordable per-vehicle basis.
Uneven style with air-conditioning, private balconies, and free Wi-Fi
Room decor at Occidental El Embajador are modern enough, but the look is fading and many rooms feel quite austere. Room quality varies from one category to the next. In all, the monochromatic color pattern is cozy, with beige walls and carpeted floors. Some rooms have outdated mid-tone wood-veneer desks, chairs, and two-poster beds with classic silhouettes, while more modern rooms -- like the Superior Room that we visited -- have sharp padded headboards, sleek dark wood-veneer furniture, and more attractively arranged black-and-white photography on the walls.
All rooms feature basic amenities including air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, minibars, and flat-screen TVs. However, the lack of unlimited free bottled water (in a country where tap water is non-potable) and coffeemakers is surprising in a four-pearl hotel. The bathrooms in all room categories are modern and average-sized for a hotel of this category. Generous use of marble on the floor, walls, and countertops lends a clean, upscale feel. All bathrooms offer a shower/tub combo with detachable showerheads, generic soaps and shower products, and hairdryers.
Most room categories -- including Superior, Club Embajador, and Royal Club -- offer similar furnishings and floor plans with an ample sleep area and private balcony. One-Bedroom Suites offer a similar layout, but with an additional space that features a dining table and separate living area. Two-Bedroom Suites feature all of the above, but have an additional bedroom, making it an ideal option for families.
The main difference between all room categories is the amenities. Club Embajador Rooms offer free continental breakfast, as well as access to a private reception area and lounge that caters to business travelers. Royal Club guests receive free a la carte breakfast daily, plus a private reception space, pillow menu, concierge assistance, as well as access to the Royal Club Restaurant, exclusive meeting rooms, and dedicated secretarial services.
A solid list of resort-like features, including an ample pool, casino, and free Wi-Fi
For a downtown property, Occidental El Embajador offers a surprising number of full-service resort amenities in a non-resort atmosphere. A clean pool surrounded by a meticulously maintained garden serves as the centerpiece of the hotel. Tall palm and banyan trees on all sides offer a decent amount of shaded lounge space throughout the day. The nearby, outdoor Las Cotorras Bar serves beer, wine, and a full liquor menu to a handful of stools and an adjacent terrace.
The large scale lobby hall serves as an ample social space with live piano music and a dedicated lobby bar. A small casino within the lobby also offers several dozen slot machines and a handful of table games.
The full list of nice-to-have amenities is rounded out with free property-wide Wi-Fi.
From tapas and small bites to fine dining and international cuisine
The hotel’s flagship restaurant, El Jardin, is open for limited lunch and dinner hours with reservations required for both. A strict dress code and fine dinnerware, furnishings, and fabrics throughout punctuate an old world atmosphere that is elegant and luxurious. The menu is a mix of international fare that includes gourmet lamb dishes, and modern takes on local seafood entrees. A classy, outdoor terrace offers intimate and romantic al fresco dining beneath a massive banyan tree.
The hotel’s second restaurant, Los Porches, offers additional indoor and alfresco dining in a more relaxed atmosphere close to the pool. The all-day dining includes a breakfast buffet (for a charge), as well as lunch, dinner, and room service options. The continental breakfast buffet and a la carte menus offer a variety of items, including cereal, cafe con leche, pastries, breads, and a rotating selection of local juices (like pineapple and passion fruit) and hot foods like yucca, frittata, sausage, and eggs. Lunch and dinner menu selections include an expected mix of local, seafood-centric Dominican delicacies, as well as Western favorites such as burgers, steak, and pasta.
Cru Tapas & Wine Bar serves traditional Spanish-style tapas and a decent wine selection from a sleek, modern, exhibition wine cave.
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