Condado, the pedestrian-friendly neighborhood just west of Old San Juan, is popular for several reasons: It offers scenic ocean views, easy access to top restaurants and nightlife, and a variety of vintage-chic accommodations—including a trio of hotels, The Condado Collection, where the owner is the same, but the vibes are entirely different. They are La Concha Resort, Condado Vanderbilt, and Condado Ocean Club.
Which is right for you? It depends on whether your idea of vintage is 1919 or 1958, your vacation mantra is “pool party” or “serenity now,” and your budget is extravagant or modest.
Condado is best for sun-seekers who prefer to cool off in a pool since the area’s beaches are more scenic than swimmer-friendly and the water here is known for dangerous undertows. But with its location just 10 minutes by car from Old San Juan, Condado is a lively and convenient locale from which to enjoy day-time excursions. Don’t miss the Old San Juan Walk and Taste foodie adventure ($130 per person, bookable at all three hotels) led by an expert guide from Spoon who’ll mix tempting libations, tasty local specialties, and fascinating city history into one delicious three-hour experience.
Here’s a look at what all three properties, which are located just steps from each other along Ashford Avenue, have to offer.
La Concha Resort
The 478-room La Concha Resort is hands-down the most versatile of the three properties and will appeal to the widest array of travelers: families, couples of all ages, and groups of friends (including for a bachelor or bachelorette weekend) who are seeking a resort with a vibrant ambience and multiple dining options. The hotel dates to 1958, as retro architectural details such as the glass-enclosed lobby and namesake ocean-facing clamshell-shaped restaurant reveal, but it has undergone $220 million in renovations, including the addition of the 235-suite Suite Tower in 2010. It is also the only property of the three with on-site gaming at Casino Del Mar, which is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Vibe: Mid-century modern meets cocktail-centric pool party. There’s definitely a youthful feel to the retro-inspired décor and multiple bars keep the ambience lively. At the same time, there’s enough outdoor relaxation space, including a beach with a small tidal pool area that safe for wading and splashing, that families and older couples won’t feel overwhelmed by music and social banter.
Rooms: The updated décor in all La Concha rooms and suites is beachy and inviting, featuring light wood flooring, modern furnishings, and artwork in white and blue hues. Accommodations are in multiple buildings: the original 1958 Ocean Tower, the circa-2010 Suite Tower, and a low-rise building housing 300 sq. ft. Resort View Rooms overlooking the popular main pool.
Ocean Tower room categories include the 300 sq. ft. City King with a large balcony and 400 sq. ft. Deluxe Oceanfront with a smaller balcony overlooking the turquoise Caribbean, while suites include 570 sq. ft. Ocean Tower Suites and one-bedroom Executive Corner Suites measuring 970 sq. ft. as well as the expansive Presidential Suite with its 1,175 sq. ft. terrace featuring a whirlpool and city views.
The Suite Tower is home to studio, one-bedroom or two-bedroom suites, many of which overlook the quieter adults-only pool. All offer European-style kitchens, and some have a balcony with a whirlpool.
Pools: La Concha’s three pools are set far enough apart that each has a distinct personality. The Main Pool features multiple levels, waterfalls, and foliage-lined lounge-style seating and has an energetic, social vibe, with two hot tubs and access to the al fresco Solera restaurant. The ocean-facing Sereno Pool overlooks the beach, is family-friendly, and is adjacent to the Sereno Beach Bar and Grill, while the Ocean Terrace infinity pool is adults-only and is serviced by the more relaxed Marena Bar. Daybeds and cabanas are available for daily rental ($150-$200 for two people and $250 for four people).
Restaurants: Nibbles and multicourse meals are available at seven on-property eateries, many offering al fresco seating. Brunch is served Friday through Sunday at The Loft Beachfront (piña colada pancakes, anyone?), while Aroma Café just off the lobby serves locally sourced coffee and yummy grab-and-go pastries and smoothies daily from 6 a.m. to 11 a.m.
For lunch and afternoon snacks guests have three options, Sereno, Marena, and Solera (all serve burger, fries, salads, fish tacos, etc.) and for dinner Solera has a more extensive menu. Guests can also opt for dinner at Komakai Sushi Bar in the lobby or Serafina (an outpost of the New York original), known for its Italian specialties and pizza.
Bars: There are five, including the spacious and popular Lobby Bar with its polished marble floor, sleek white columns, mid-century-inspired seating, and mood-enhancing up-lighting. Other places to socialize or chill are the mellow Marena Bar, the Sereno Beach Bar, the poolside Solera lounge, and the high-energy nightclub Fifty-Eight (open Thursday through Saturday).
What else to know: The hotel is dog-friendly and there’s free Wi-Fi; there are multiple levels to many of the public spaces, with stairs and some ramps; there’s an on-site fitness Center offering cardio and resistance equipment, weights and fitness class, and spa treatments can be booked at the Spa at Condado Vanderbilt; the Lobby Bar, Casino Del Mar, and Solera Lounge attract a lively crowd, especially on weekends. Rates start at $309/night for rooms and $359/night for suites.
The stately 319-room Condado Vanderbilt couldn’t possibly be more different than its trendy mid-century next-door neighbor. This is a hotel for lovers of historic architecture, five-star dining, fine wines and spirts, and days spent sipping champagne in a poolside cabana or being pampered in the spa. It was built in 1919 by Frederick William Vanderbilt, the grandson of 19th century railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt and the great uncle of designer Gloria Vanderbilt, whose photo hangs on the second-floor mezzanine.
Two Suite Towers were added about a decade ago as part of a $200 million revitalization, but aside from the transition hallways and elevators the décor in these new wings matches the vintage character of the original grand-dame hotel, creating an atmosphere that transports guests back in time. Travelers who love the Royal Hawaiian on Oahu or The Biltmore in Coral Gables, FL, will feel right at home here.
Vibe: Roaring ‘20s opulence on the beach. The Condado Vanderbilt features a lavish Spanish Revival façade, dramatically curved twin lobby staircases, a deep salmon pink color on its interior walls and symmetrical archways, and a sunken and spacious VC Lounge with upscale speakeasy décor (cinnamon-hued velvet, polished brash, and luxe brown leather). It’s popular with couples and business travelers, and although families stay here too, it’s not a property where kids can run wild.
Rooms: Décor blends traditional and contemporary elements using plush fabrics in taupe, gray and blue with sea-inspired area rugs atop marble floors and 300-thread-count linens.
Options range from Heritage Guestrooms in the original 1919 building, which are 295 to 350 sq. ft. and come with a queen, king, or two queen beds, but do not have a balcony, to more spacious accommodations with larger bathrooms and balconies in the Suite Towers.
Tower categories include 650 sq. ft. Biltmore Ocean View one-bedroom suites, 800 sq. ft. Commodore City View one-bedroom suites, and 815 sq. ft. Commodore Oceanfront One-Bedroom Suites (some with generous terraces). Commodore Suites are also available in two-bedroom configurations, ranging from 875 to 1,275 sq. ft.
The ultimate splurge: one of the two 2,590 sq. ft. Vanderbilt Presidential Suites perched atop the towers and offering three bedrooms (all with terraces), three bathrooms, and butler service.
Pools: The West Tower Pool features luxury cabanas, photogenic striped umbrellas, and large infinity-edge hot tub that sets the scene for a day of indulgence. The adjacent Ola Oceanfront restaurant and bar can supply food and beverages and the ocean view is sublime. The other option is the quieter and more secluded adults-only East Tower Pool, which features three smaller pools, including a shallow one with sunbeds; it also offers access to a small beach.
Restaurants: The Vanderbilt boasts four restaurants, including two splurge-worthy dinner options. Foodies should reserve at 1919 Restaurant, an atmospheric fine-dining venue offering “flavor-forward” dishes available a la carte or in exquisitely crafted tasting menus (from $125 per person) with paired wines (from $110 per person). Michelin-starred Executive Chef Juan Jose Cuevas’ cuisine takes inspiration from ingredients sourced from local farmers and artisan producers (closed on Sunday and Monday). Steak-lovers can opt for STK Restaurant & Lounge, a modern steakhouse with an emphasis on fine-dining. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a view are served daily in Ola Oceanfront, while Tacos and Tequila offers upscale Mexican favorites for lunch and dinner (open Thursday to Monday).
Bars: Craft cocktails (and champagne) are the stars here and it’s hard not to be drawn into the grandly retro VC Lounge, which spans from the lobby to an oceanfront terrace, to sip a classic cocktail and enjoy tapas and other small-plate bites along with live jazz. Explore a bit further to sample the offerings at the Veritas Wine and Cognac Bar or the Marabar Martini Bar and Lounge. And cigar aficionados can sip whiskey and smoke a top-brand cigar in the clubby Avo Lounge.
What else to know: Condado Vanderbilt is dog-friendly and there’s free-Wi-Fi; the spacious Spa at Condado features seven treatment rooms (plus an outdoor treatment area) and Puerto Rico’s only hammam; there are accessible ramps to all restaurants, the spa, pools, and other areas. Rates start at $425/night for rooms and $650/night for suites.
Condado Ocean Club
If grand spaces aren’t your thing, this third property scales things down quite stylishly. With just 96 rooms and suites, the adults-only (21+), boutique-style Condado Ocean Club is a compact and inviting setting for a San Juan getaway. Open since 2020 and located in the former Serafina Beach Hotel, the property underwent an ocean-inspired renovation that created modern interiors with a topical minimalist look along with fun outdoor hangout spots.
Vibe: Design-centric setting for adults seeking a chic hideaway. Just be aware that while it’s perfect for a quiet weekday couple’s escape, on weekends a poolside DJ turns things into an al fresco party scene popular with groups of single friends and younger couples looking for sun, fun and a raucous good time.
Rooms: The majority are Premium Oceanfront Rooms and Ocean Club Rooms (325 sq. ft.) with a massive floor-to-ceiling window facing the water and modern sea-meets-sky décor that’s so light and soothing you’ll go “wow” when you see it—and you won’t miss having a balcony.
On the third floor, there are limited Atlantic Ocean Terrace rooms with a 282 sq. ft. furnished terrace as well as Condado Ocean Balcony Rooms with a 160 sq. ft. terrace. Premium Laguna and Laguna Club Rooms overlook the lagoon and the San Juan skyline. All are spacious and decorated in the same airy white-and-blue décor with modern bathrooms featuring stone-clad walk-in showers.
Pools: There’s just one and it’s small but stunning. Located on The Deck and designed with a comfortable heated infinity edge pool that lets guests ponder the surf below, it’s a quiet spot to read or meditate in the morning, a relaxing place to hang out in one of the nine cabanas with your BFFs all day (from $250 for up to six people), or party during evening and weekend DJ events. Sun-lovers will need to stake out chaises that will stay in the sun all day.
Restaurants: This intimate hotel has two exciting restaurants: Social, with cuisine by Chef Ramon Cruz, features dinner menus with locally sourced/globally inspired dishes in generous portions (many of the starters are great to share), as well as a casual lunch menu (sliders, nachos, ceviche, etc.) and full breakfast daily (with brunch on Sunday).
Sandbox is a fun, lounge-style al fresco bar open Wednesday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. It serves shareable local tapas (mini empanadas, fish tacos, malanga croquettes) along with a thirst-quenching selection of tropical cocktails.
Bars: In addition to the chic indoor bar at Social and the casual outdoor one at Sandbox, The Deck features a lunch menu and full bar service; while the ambience here can be mellow on weekday afternoons, evenings are livelier, and weekends are a full-blown DJ-hosted party.
What else to know: Like its sister properties, Condado Ocean Club is dog-friendly; there’s also complimentary Wi-Fi, a small fitness center, and a cute boutique. Rates start at $259/night.