Not much within walking distance; need to drive or take a cab
Daily fee for on-site parking
The upscale, 910-room Caribe Hilton is a lively mega-resort with stunning views of Puerto Rico's Atlantic Coast between Old San Juan and Condado. Yes, it can be crowded and busy, but the cruisers, business travelers, honeymooners, and families that flock here don't seem to mind. The hotel's 17 acres include bird-filled tropical gardens, multiple restaurants, a lively bar, and gorgeous pools. The manmade beach isn't the best, and can be packed, but rooms are modern and comfy, with Hilton's excellent beds, and many have furnished balconies with ocean views. Guests looking for a more historical, intimate stay should consider Hotel El Convento, a boutique hotel that was once a convent, in Old San Juan.
Lively mega-resort with rich history on its own peninsula
The Caribe Hilton is a San Juan original. In 1949, it was the first Hilton to be erected outside of the continental United States, and since then it's hosted plenty of celebrities and dignitaries. The hotel is even considered the birthplace of the piña colada -- Puerto Rico's national drink -- which was created here by bartender Ramon Marrero Perez in 1954. History aside, the Caribe Hilton is massive and lively; the hotel is a destination for guests arriving and departing on cruise ships, group tours, retirees, families, conference-goers, honeymooners, bachelor and bachelorette parties -- essentially anyone looking to soak up some Puerto Rico sun and surf. The grounds are sprawling and can get busy, with all manner of guests mingling by the multiple outdoor pools, along the crowded man-made beach, in the restaurants that range from casual to upscale, and in the hotel's lively bar that features nightly entertainment. The hotel sits on 17 acres and there are tranquil gardens on the east side of the property for those looking to escape the crowds and hang out with tropical birds and even a stray iguana. Interiors are modern, and much of the hotel is open-air. The many shops and restaurants, including Starbucks, do give the main lobby level a bit of a mega-mall feeling, but overall the experience is vibrant, with chances for romance from some of the ocean terraces and secluded walkways that overlook the crashing waves of San Juan's Atlantic coastline.
Private oceanfront location between Old San Juan and up-market Condado
The Caribe Hilton is located on a small peninsula on the eastern end of the Islet of San Juan, directly between the popular tourist neighborhoods of Old San Juan and Condado. The Atlantic Ocean surrounds the hotel's grounds on three sides. Drives to Old San Juan and Condado take up to 10 minutes depending on traffic, though walks to Condado can be done in about 20 minutes when the weather is pleasant, with views across gorgeous Condado Lagoon along the way. Otherwise, there isn't much within walking distance, and guests without cars should be prepared for hefty cab fares. One of Old San Juan's historic forts, Castillo de San Cristobal, is a 10-minute drive from the hotel, while the vibrant outdoor nightlife of La Placita -- ringed by eclectic bars with live music as well as chic restaurants -- is a seven-minute drive from the hotel. While the hotel has a manmade beach, there are far nicer in San Juan, including in Condado (a 10-minute drive) and in Isla Verde (a 15-minute drive). Luis Muñoz Marin International Airport is a 15-minute drive from the hotel as well.
Classic Hilton rooms with straightforward, contemporary decor, some with spectacular views
Fans of Hilton properties around the world won't be disappointed as the Caribe Hilton offers all of the standards the chain is known for: excellent pillow-top beds, pleasing neutral decor, and contemporary features and accents including free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, mini-fridges, coffeemakers, safes, and air-conditioning. Without a doubt, the star of many rooms are the small furnished balconies that have some of the nicest views of San Juan's Atlantic coast available in the city. Decor throughout is modern and straightforward, but varies across room categories. Double Room (Ocean View) Rooms have pleasing green accent walls, tan tile floors with light patterned throw rugs, and mid-tone wood furniture with granite tops. Beds are made with white duvets and sit under padded headboards. The look is sharp and simple, with a homey level of comfort. Higher-end rooms, like the Junior Suite we visited, have more space for guests to stretch out, with a living area with contemporary couches and chairs, dark wood veneer furniture, and taupe carpeted floors. Bathrooms are a mixed bag, and some don't feel quite as modern as the rooms themselves. Some bathrooms are fresh, with bright mosaic tiling, shower/tub combos, spacious vanities, and granite countertops, while others have slightly dated marble tiling. Premium toiletries are included with all rooms. It's worth checking ahead regarding views from certain rooms. While the Double Room we visited had an unobstructed ocean view, the Junior Suite's view was cluttered with rooftops in the foreground. Views on the east side include San Geronimo del Boqueron (a small colonial fort) and the Condado skyline, while on the west they look toward palm-fringed Punta Escambaron.
Oceanside pools, man-made beach, multiple bars and restaurants, plus tropical gardens
Like any true mega-resort, the Caribe Hilton goes big on features. The stars of the show are the multiple outdoor pools, which spill over different levels, include waterfall walls, dip under bridges, and are surrounded by terraces lined with lounge chairs under palm trees. There is a pool bar serving all manner of tropical drinks, including the hotel's signature piña colada. The hotel has a stretch of man-made beach, though it can get very crowded, and for a more tranquil place to relax, the gorgeous tropical gardens are filled with exotic bird and plant species, making for a fine place to unwind in relative peace.
Inside, there are eight restaurants and bars spread throughout the property, including Morton's Steakhouse and Lemongrass Pan Asian Latino -- both up-market options -- plus a casual Italian restaurant and fast food like Quiznos and Starbucks. Caribar, a sleek modern space with floor-to-ceiling windows and views of the pools and ocean, offers cocktails and live entertainment on many nights. An expansive breakfast buffet is served every morning, with a live cooking egg station and plenty of hot and cold options, but it's only included with certain bookings.
The hotel has a modern fitness center that's really a gym, with new cardio and weight-training equipment. Unlike many gloomy fitness rooms, this fitness center gets plenty of natural light, and the hotel has tennis courts as well. The spa offers a variety of massages and wellness treatments. There is a kids' club on site and a summertime children's camp plus a shallow area in the pool for kids and mini-golf. The hotel offers a vast conference facilities that can hold up to 1,600 attendees, and many guests stay here during on-site conferences. Wi-Fi is free throughout the hotel, but parking incurs a daily fee.
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