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Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando 4.0

Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo Province, Dominican Republic

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • On the Ozama riverfront, a short walk to El Conde pedestrian mall
  • Located in one of downtown Santo Domingo’s most historic buildings; a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Outdoor pool with an open-air bar and river views
  • Charming rooms with minibars, flat-screen TVs, and Nespresso makers
  • Beautiful French restaurant with a live guitarist and room service
  • Fast, free Wi-Fi in every corner of the property
  • Modern business center and state-of-the-art meeting and event spaces for up to 300 people
  • Free valet parking (a real perk in this busy neighborhood)
  • Filtered tap water in the rooms and restaurant

Cons

  • Pricey breakfast buffet
  • Views to the working harbor are more industrial than picturesque
  • Small, basic gym with limited equipment
  • Colonial Rooms are small 

Bottom Line

With a history dating back more than 500 years, the buildings that house Hodelpa Nicolas de Ovando are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and now home to one of Santo Domingo’s most charming and historic upscale hotels. The 97 rooms range from small to sprawling, but all include original, centuries-old design elements plus minibars, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and Nespresso makers. The outdoor pool offers decent views of Rio Ozama and La Residence restaurant serves up fine French dining in one of the city’s most romantic alfresco dining spaces. For a bit more money, Billini Hotel is a similarly historic, city-center property that provides a boutique experience with ultra modern amenities.

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Scene

Sophisticated upscale hotel in one of Santo Domingo’s most historic buildings

Take away the cars and electric street lamps on Calle Las Damas and a stroll down the street adjacent to the hotel feels like stepping back to the 16th century. Brick sidewalks and paver stones, arched entryways, and much of the original, beautiful Spanish Colonial architecture remains. It’s no surprise that the three buildings that make up the hotel are collectively listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Dating back to 1502, the hotel was once home to Santo Domingo’s founder, Governor Nicolás de Ovando. Five hundred years later, it’s evolved into one of the city’s finest upscale hotels with many of the original fixtures, architecture, and decor intact. The resulting property affords visitors the opportunity to sleep in a perfectly preserved relic of the city’s rich history. The atmosphere is quiet, relaxed, and sophisticated -- but not stuffy. Guests tend to be locals, travelers from Latin America, and in-the-know North American couples seeking a romantic getaway with a distinct sense of both place and time.

Location

Along Rio Ozama, at the east end of the tourist-friendly Colonial Zone

The eastern edge of Calle El Conde is two minutes from the hotel’s front entrance. This pedestrian walkway is closed to vehicle traffic and is full of tourist-friendly shops, restaurants, bars, and small markets. Less than five minutes on foot lies Plaza de España, a favorite gathering spot along the water with restaurants, bars, and lovely river views. While it can be thick with tourists, it’s a great place to catch free concerts or the ballet on weekends.

With moderate traffic, the hotel is 40 minutes from Las Americas International (SDQ) Airport. The property’s own shuttle bus service can prove expensive. Fortunately, taxis and private shuttle buses are affordable and easy to find throughout the city. Given the city’s notoriously bad traffic, guests who don’t need a rental car should consider public transportation.

Rooms

A wide variety of historic rooms; all with minibars, flat-screen TVs, and free Wi-Fi

Like the lobby and common areas, most rooms (including Colonial Rooms, Junior Suites, and Suites) offer a distinct sense of the city’s Spanish Colonial past. Every aspect of the original architecture --  exposed brick, thick wood ceiling beams, arched entryways, and shuttered windows -- has been well preserved or restored. A few dozen Contemporary Rooms have been updated to include modern bed sets, furniture, and accents. However, all are tastefully incorporated to complement the property’s historic look and feel. Square footage varies widely from the small, studio-style Colonial Rooms to the sprawling Suites with separate living/seating areas, large sunken bedrooms, upscale master baths, and river views. Every room includes a decent list of modern amenities: minibars, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso coffeemakers, and free Wi-Fi. 

Bathrooms also vary widely, from cramped (especially for a four-pearl property) to spacious. However, fit and finish is excellent throughout with a tasteful use of marble, glass, and travertine tile. Generic bath amenities are standard in most rooms. Junior Suites and Suites upgrade to Pascal Morabito luxury brand soaps and shampoos.

Features

Upscale, alfresco French restaurant and an outdoor pool with water views

The hotel’s restaurant, La Residence, is a mainstay of the city’s fine dining scene. The sprawling layout includes a beautifully decorated, formal dining area with crimson walls, regal dining sets, and wrought iron chandeliers hung from the vaulted ceiling. The terrace extends into a charming, open-air courtyard awash in brick, Spanish tile, and lush tropical greenery. A deluxe buffet breakfast is provided daily (for a fee) and multiple serving stations include omelets, baked goods, fresh fruit, and a few local, Caribbean-inspired delicacies. Lunch and dinner are served a la carte and are heavily influenced by classic French cuisine. The menu can include spit-roasted duck, foie gras parfait, and chicken au poivre. A guitarist strums romantic love ballads to diners on the weekends. For an additional fee, room service is also available throughout most of the day.

The outdoor pool is small, though adequately sized given the hotel’s capacity of fewer than 100 rooms. The surrounding terrace is larger and provides ample space for guests to relax in the lounge chairs and take in the views of Rio Ozama. The views are limited, but lovely, especially at sunrise. However, the working harbor detracts from the otherwise charming ambience. A few feet away, a small, open-air lounge features a full bar menu and a pool table.

The small, simple gym includes a handful of relatively modern cardio- and strength-training machines. The business center is likewise small with a few modern computer workstations. Street parking is nearly impossible to find in the Colonial Zone, however, free valet parking is provided to all guests at the hotel. Fast, free Wi-Fi is available throughout the property, including at the restaurant and pool.

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Address

Calle las Damas, Santo Domingo, Santo Domingo Province 10130, Caribbean

Also Known As

  • Hostal Nicolas de Ovando-Mgallery
  • Hostal Nicolas de Ovando Santo Domingo - MGallery Collection

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