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La Terraza de San Juan 3.5

Old San Juan, San Juan, Puerto Rico

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Central location, walking distance to the sights, restaurants, and cafes of Old San Juan
  • Huge rooftop terrace with a bar, infinity-edge pool, and lots of space to lounge
  • Impeccably restored architecture that exudes historic charm
  • Free continental breakfast
  • Two bars, one that opens directly onto the street
  • Attractive colonial-style rooms, some with views of the bay and city
  • Pay for one coffee drink and refills are free

Cons

  • Location requires walking up and down steep hills
  • No on-site parking
  • The pool is small, fitting only four people
  • Not located on the beach
  • No restaurant
  • Some of the rooms do not have windows and are located below grade
  • No spa or fitness center
  • The stairs are steep and narrow

Bottom Line

This hotel has reopened following the impact of Hurricane Maria in September 2017. Travelers should note that the island wassignificantly impacted by the storm. La Terraza is an upper-middle-range, 23-room historic boutique hotel set on a hillside in the heart of Old San Juan. Surrounded mostly by residential properties as well as a few restaurants and bars, the hotel's duo of impeccably restored 500- and 600-year-old buildings exude old-world charm through details such as high ceilings showcasing original beams, and original and replicated tiles on the floors and walls. Each bedroom is unique in layout and style, and some offer views from their balconies, but the pièce de résistance is the hotel's rooftop terrace with a small infinity-edge pool, shaded bar, and 360-degree views of the bay and the city. While the hotel is one of Old San Juan's best, it lacks a beachfront location and spa. Those seeking sand might prefer hotels in nearby Condado such as La Concha.

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Scene

A sophisticated boutique hotel that caters to couples interested in exploring historic Old San Juan

Terraza, the Spanish word for terrace, was the inspiration for this historic boutique hotel. The hotel is actually a duo of 500- and 600-year-old buildings side by side, and the spectacular rooftop terrace spans both. The views from the airy perch deliver peeks at national monuments, into secret gardens of city residences, and vistas of the stretching Bahia de San Juan, a waterway transit for a parade of boats and cruise ships. 

While open to outside guests, the terrace is mainly a private haven for those staying at the hotel, mostly couples who choose the hotel specifically for its historic charm and central location in the heart of Old San Juan. On the terrace, a pool with room for four is set on the edge facing the bay while at the back of the terrace, a small bar serves cocktails under the cover of a sturdy wooden roof. Strands of lights crisscross above the brick terrace arranged with bright orange lounge chairs, pots of palms, and fuchsia bougainvillea. 

While the rooftop is a tempting place to ponder the grid of Old San Juan's narrow cobblestone streets, exploring on foot is the best way to experience the sights and energy of the historic city. Along the narrow Calle de Sol, the hotel's entrance, like most residences along the street, is secured by a decorative iron gate that remains locked at all times -- guests need a security code to enter. Inside, the small reception area is awash in warm hues of red, coral, and terra-cotta. The butter-colored walls are adorned with hand-painted swirls of red, a small cross hangs over an arched doorway, a pair of red high-back chairs offer a place to rest, and decorative red floor tiles encourage guests to wander along the hallway. Turn left into a small interior courtyard or right to enter the bar (which also serves as the front desk) and the dining room. The sultry, dimly lit space features checkerboard black and white tile floors and walls decorated with canvas prints of Degas ballerinas.

Another iron door leads to the second building and another bar, unofficially called "the gym," with tall wood doors that open to the street. After breakfast, most guests head out to explore the many cathedrals, monuments, forts, and museums before retiring to the roof deck or the bar for light tapas, a cocktail, or a caffeine burst. While the hotel does not have a restaurant, there are several within walking distance such as El Jibarito which specializes in Puerto Rican fare, the charming St. Germain Bistro, or Al Fresco, a wine bar set in the former home of Puerto Rican Nationalist, Pedro Albizu Campos.  

Location

In the middle of the block of Calle Sol, a mostly residential area with a few restaurants and bars, about a 30-minute drive to the San Juan International Airport

Many of Old San Juan's historic sites are within walking distance from the hotel, while the beaches of Condado and Ocean Park are within a 15-minute drive.

  • Six-minute walk to Cathedral of San Juan Bautista
  • Nine-minute walk to Puerta de San Juan
  • Nine-minute walk to La Fortaleza
  • 10-minute walk to El Morro
  • 12-minute drive to Condado Beach
  • 15-minute drive to Ocean Park
  • 30-minute drive to the San Juan International Airport
  • 40-minute drive to El Yunque National Forest
  • Two-hour, 30-minute drive to Rincon

Rooms

A variety of room types with historic Spanish Colonial charm, plush bedding, and modern amenities 

The hotel consists of two historic three-story buildings, set side by side. The building with the cream-colored exterior was the first to open as a boutique hotel. When the owners purchased the property in 2007, it was in ruin with no electricity or running water. During the renovation and excavation, they discovered rooms, along with eight cannon balls, buried beneath the ground.

The revealed rooms were renovated into a 1,000-square-foot courtyard apartment, which is popular with families and couples traveling together. A spiral staircase winds to the private enclave that encompasses two bedrooms (one king and two twins), a bathroom, and a large outdoor terrace with a wet bar, microwave, and an outdoor living room. Other rooms in the building range from windowless budget-friendly bedrooms with king-size beds to a light-filled top-floor two-bedroom apartment with an open living room and kitchen, balcony, and a washer and dryer.

The rooms all vary in size and shape, but they follow a cohesive color palette with accent walls finished in rich hues of terra-cotta, and artisanal tile floors in muted shades of yellow, blue, and red. Beds are finished with ivory matelassé coverlets, red and ivory striped accent throws, and coordinating throw pillows. Tall canvas replica artwork depicting paintings by famous artists hang on the walls along with flat-screen TVs. Dark wood entry doors with transom windows accentuate the 13-foot ceilings with exposed brickwork and wood beams. The bathrooms feature lively designs of patterned tile, stone vessel sinks, and glass-enclosed showers.

While the rooms in the original building are rich in warm saturated color, the rooms in the second, newer building offer a much cleaner, lighter style. The building with the pale blue façade encompasses 16 rooms, ranging from entry-level Superior Rooms with king-size beds, to Balcony Suites with king beds and terraces that face the harbor, to Double Deluxe Rooms with two queen-size beds. The First Class Suites feature a bedroom with a king-size bed and a separate living area with a sleeper sofa, while the King Deluxe Rooms are long and spacious with carved wood four-poster king-size beds, small sofas, work desks, and narrow balconies that open to views of Calle Sol and the city.

Rooms in the new building are more modern in style with white walls offering a neutral backdrop to contrast the dark wood furnishings. The beds are finished with white duvets and accented with throws in shades of woodsy green and deep blue. Bathrooms are finished with wide beige tile work in the glass-enclosed showers, white marble vanities with basin sinks, and brushed nickel fixtures that include rectangular rain showerheads.

All of the rooms come equipped with mini-fridges stocked with sodas, beer, champagne, and snacks.

Features

A huge rooftop terrace, two bars, free breakfast served in on the rooftop terrace or in the dining room, and bottomless Puerto Rican coffee

Puerto Rico is home to some of the best coffee growers in the world and the staff/baristas at La Terraza de San Juan have perfected the art of the cup of coffee. A large vintage espresso machine named Gloria churns out coffee drinks on demand. Guests pay for the first one and the rest are free. The street-facing bar, unofficially named "the gym" (it was once a fitness center) is an ideal spot to linger over coffee, cocktails, and tapas and watch pedestrians pass by the framed doorways that open directly onto Calle Sol. The rooftop is an ideal perch any time of day whether cooling off in the plunge pool after walking the city or enjoying a glass of wine beneath the shimmering strands of twinkling lights while viewing the bay.

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Things You Should Know About La Terraza de San Juan

Address

262 Calle del Sol, San Juan 00901-1421, Caribbean

Also Known As

  • La Terraza Hotel

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