This hotel has reopened following the impact of Hurricane Maria in September 2017, but travelers should note that the island of Puerto Rico was significantly impacted by the storm. The Condado Vanderbilt Hotel is a four-and-a-half-pearl hotel located in San Juan’s vibrant Condado district, directly accessible to the beach. The hotel’s 319 guest rooms are timelessly attractive, with dark-wood furniture and stone-topped bathroom vanities. Early 20th-century antiques are ubiquitous throughout, and the hotel plays up its historic setting with handsome restaurants and lounges that exude a turn-of-the-century ambience. At the same time, an infinity-edge pool and innovative spa, in addition to high-tech guest rooms and meeting spaces infuse the hotel with a refreshing contemporary element. Those interested in historic properties might also consider Hotel El Convento in Old San Juan, but the Vanderbilt offers easier beach access.
Refined and retro hotel with a long history of hosting celebrities and dignitaries
Vanderbilt was constructed in 1919 by Frederick William Vanderbilt, designed by
the same architectural firm responsible for New York’s Grand Central Station.
In its heyday, the hotel attracted famous figures like Charles Lindberg, Errol
Flynn, and U.S. president Franklin Roosevelt. After a gradual decline, the
hotel closed in 1997. A major restoration of the property began in 2003, which
was finally completed in 2014, bringing the hotel to the grandeur it enjoys today.
The Condado is everything you would expect from a property with this kind of historical
clout. Many aspects of the hotel are genuine artifacts, such as the original
iron staircase that dominates the lobby; others, like the retro cigar lounge,
are well-crafted endeavors to recreate the hotel’s legendary early 20th century
grace and elegance. A red velvet settee with a swirled center sits in front of three wood-paneled reception desks.
surprisingly, the hotel is a favorite of wedding parties, along with couples --
typically middle-agers rather than young newlyweds. There were plenty of
guests relaxing around the pool and dining on airy restaurant terraces during
our visit, but everyone seems to pick up on the implicit expectation that guests' behavior should be as classy as the setting. As a result, the common areas have
an inviting yet distinctly hushed atmosphere.
In San Juan’s trendy Condado District, surrounded by plenty of enticing shops, restaurants, and bars
The hotel's neighborhood, The Condado
District, is one of San Juan’s largest entertainment hubs, home to popular
casinos and dining options that range from fast-food chains to high-end
restaurants. The hotel is set on Ashford Avenue, the main road running through
Condado. Lined with shops like Louis Vuitton, Ferragamo, and Cartier, Ashford
Avenue is often compared to New York’s Fifth Avenue for its upscale shopping.
When the sun sets, the same street becomes a buzzing nightlife hub.
is adjacent to a lovely stretch of Condado Beach, one of the busiest beaches in
Greater San Juan. Backed by high-rise hotels and resorts, the beach is an
excellent base for water sports although the tide is sometimes too strong for
inexperienced swimmers. Old San Juan and its shops and restaurants are about a 10-minute drive away, as is
Isla Grande Airport. Valet parking is available for a fee.
Elegant rooms include French presses and bathrooms with C.O. Bigelow bath products
at the Condado Vanderbilt are beautiful and understated. Each is decorated in a soft palette of rose, beige, and gray. Beds feature tall, eye-catching fabric headboards and
300 thread count Rivolta Carmignani linens. Most of the furniture is dark wood,
and many rooms include French windows. All rooms offer French presses for making coffee, as well
as 48-inch Samsung Full HD LED Smart TVs with airplay and mirroring capabilities. At
295 square feet, however, the Heritage Queen rooms are a bit small.
include lofty nine-foot high ceilings, as well as kitchenettes with microwaves and
Sub-Zero refrigerators. Many offer at least one private balcony with views of
the ocean or city. All feature 24-hour butler service and second 55-inch Samsung Full HD LED Smart TVs in their sitting areas.
Two gorgeous pools, beach access, and a dazzling spa with the island’s only private Hamman
Features at the Condado Vanderbilt are almost limitless. The hotel
presents two stylish pool areas, one in the West Tower and one in the East
Tower. The West Tower’s main pool includes a small waterfall feature and
submerged lounge chairs. Seating is offered on cushy blue loungers, shaded by
striped beach umbrellas. There are also a couple of square cabanas. An infinity-edge pool is found adjacent to the main pool, offering dramatic views of the
resort strip and the crashing waves of the ocean below. Around the corner from
the infinity pool, additional loungers and umbrellas stretch along a long
wooden sundeck that provides more spectacular ocean vistas.
pool area in the East Tower is reserved for adults-only, and includes three
small pools. The design of this area is similar to the West Tower’s pool area,
with plenty of lounge chairs (including some submerged ones) and beach
umbrellas. A few palm trees soften the deck’s appearance. The pools
overlook a tiny beach, where the waters are not suitable for swimming. A short path leads down to a fine stretch of
Condado Beach, the hotel’s main beach, where beach butlers provide towels and
exquisite spa features Puerto Rico’s only private hammam, which includes a
marble-slab heated massage bed and mosaic marble walls. The spa menu offers a
variety of massages, facials, and nail care, along with an interesting hydro-sensorial
therapy session that blends steam, sound, light, and aromatherapy. There’s a
pristine fitness center above the spa, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing
toward the ocean and a variety of Technogym cardio equipment and strength-training machines.
offers 30,000 square feet of flexible meeting space, including a ballroom that
can accommodate up to 600 guests. Most meeting rooms feature superb design
elements like restored cathedral ceilings and custom-made Italian chandeliers,
balanced with practical amenities like Bose Sound Systems and HD displays and
monitors. Wedding planning services are available. The hotel's little business center
has personal computers set in thoughtful cubicles that provide privacy. Free Wi-Fi is offered
throughout the hotel.
The hotel’s main restaurant is 1919, which specializes in organic cuisine. Headed by celebrity Chef Juan Jose Cuevas, the restaurant attracts non-guests with its outstanding menu. The dining room exudes an old-school sophistication with its rich burgundy and chocolate color scheme.
This classy esthetic continues in Vanderbilt Court, a large lobby lounge composed of three interconnected venues: A wine and cognac bar, a cocktail bar, and an intimate cigar lounge. All three venues share the same small-bites menu.
The West Tower’s poolside restaurant, Ola Ocean Front Bistro, is a bit breezier and brighter. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the restaurant features cheerful blue tones colors and huge windows overlooking the pool and ocean. Expect to pay extra for breakfast. The hotel’s other more casual dining venue, Tacos and Tequila, is found by the East Tower pool.
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