Straddling both sides of san Juan’s sophisticated Condado strip with its high-end fashion outlets and restaurants, the Condado Plaza Hilton commands a prime location allowing guests views over one of two watery vistas.
From one side, the hotel provides unbroken balcony views of the Atlantic ocean with its ever-changing colours and tropical skies, accompanied by the restful sound of the waves crashing against the sea defences. From the other, the tranquil Condado lagoon stretches out below you. If you are staying on this side we recommend bringing along a pair of binoculars as it’s the perfect spot for a bit of manatee spotting. designed by renowned architect Morris Lapidus in 1963, the landmark hotel features 571 rooms and suites. It also houses Pikayo, the flagship restaurant of local chef, Wilo Benet. Benet has built Pikayo’s considerable reputation amongst international foodies by serving contemporary global cuisine which combines traditional Puerto rican ingredients with global influences. However, if you are planning to dine here, don’t just expect to rock up and get a table. This is one of the most desirable restaurants on the island and as such has a substantial waiting list. although not as prestigious, the hotel’s Eight Noodle Bar offers a range of Asian dishes and a good sushi counter.
The Condado Plaza Hilton has its own protected beach with a swimming area and three outdoor swimming pools, one of which has an outdoor spa. another is a saltwater pool – the only one in Puerto Rico. More adventurous swimmers can explore the eco-friendly reef right off the resort’s beach. snorkelling equipment, paddle-boards and kayaks are available to borrow, complimentary to guests.
A short taxi ride away is the delightful, historic town of old San Juan with its colourful, narrow, shop-filled streets overlooked by the impressive 500-year-old Spanish fort. Puerto Rico owes much to its strategic position and the main port of san Juan played a pivotal role in its history. We opted for a walking tour and learnt all about San Juan’s fascinating history, making the most of a short visit to the city.
In the evening, we headed for cocktails at the buzzy Oceano’s, a short walk down the Condado strip from the well-located Hilton, followed by a taste of authentic Puerto rican culture at Salon 610, a lively bar-cum-arts space on Calle Condado.