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Hotel El Convento

Coordinates: 18°27′57″N 66°07′06″W / 18.465838°N 66.118228°W / 18.465838; -66.118228
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Hotel El Convento
General information
LocationOld San Juan, Puerto Rico
Address100 Cristo Street
San Juan, PR 00901
Coordinates18°27′57″N 66°07′06″W / 18.465838°N 66.118228°W / 18.465838; -66.118228
OpeningJanuary 27, 1962
ManagementInternational Hospitality Enterprises
Technical details
Floor count5
Design and construction
Architect(s)Rene Jean, Jorge Rosselló
Other information
Number of rooms58
Number of restaurants1 - Patio del Níspero
Hotel El Convento

Hotel El Convento is a small hotel in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, in what was a Carmelite convent, adjoining the San Juan Cathedral square. The cathedral is the second-oldest cathedral in the Western Hemisphere. Hotel El Convento is the oldest member of the Historic Hotels of America. It was also named the premier Small Luxury Hotel in Puerto Rico by the Small Luxury Hotels of the World organization.


In 1646, construction began on the Carmelite convent,[1] through a petition by King Philip IV of Spain. The Monasterio del Señor San José de la Orden de nuestra Señora del Carmen (Monastery of Our Lady Carmen of San Jose) was founded in 1651 by Doña Ana Lanzós, a wealthy widow who donated her money and her magnificent residence (a large double sloped tiled roof) in the street that since then bears her name: de las Monjas. Historian María de los Ángeles Castro tells us that the delay in the arrival of a nunnery was due to economic reasons but also for lack of defense since the fortifications of the city were not yet complete. Three nuns brought especially from Santo Domingo served as founders.

Courtyard of Hotel El Convento

The building was expanded between 1854 and 1861 after the original building was torn down. Governor Fernándo Norzagaray y Escudero personally helped to raise the necessary funds and inspected the work daily. Certain elements stand out in the facade of the chapel, beside the entrance, the pair of Tuscan columns, the two towers and the latticed choir arch. The frieze above the door is interrupted for a legend that never was placed. The building was closed from 1903 to 1959 and then sold. During its conversion to a hotel the two towers were removed as was the cross that identified the site as a convent.

In 1959, under the auspices of Operation Bootstrap, Robert Woolworth started the renovation to turn it into the El Convento Hotel. It reopened in 1962 to the stars of the day, including Rita Hayworth, offering a tranquil, European-style alternative to the glitzy hotels lining the Condado strip.

In the 1990s, El Convento underwent a $14 million renovation[2] by a team led by Hugh Andrews and Jorge Rosselló, who also remodeled other hotels such as La Concha, and the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. It was rechristened as Hotel El Convento, a 4-star small luxury hotel with five stories, a central courtyard where a 300-year old Níspero fruit tree still stands, a pool and Jacuzzi on the fourth-floor terrace, and great views of Old San Juan, maintaining the same high standard of luxury and style. Other notable present-day features of this boutique-style hotel include a 24-hour fitness center, a daily manager's wine and cheese reception, Patio del Níspero open-air restaurant,[3] 24-hour hospitality bar, five versatile meeting rooms, library, business center, herb garden, a beach club featuring beach privileges in Condado and Isla Verde beaches, and more.

In 2005, it was described as "an elegant 55-room inn in a former Carmelite convent."[3]

Hotel El Convento is an Old San Juan institution with more than 365 years of tradition, making it the oldest member of the Historic Hotels of America. It was also named the premier Small Luxury Hotel in Puerto Rico by the Small Luxury Hotels of the World organization.

Notables guests[edit]

Some of the hotel's notable guests over the years include:[4][5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "36 Hours in San Juan". The New York Times. February 7, 2019. Archived from the original on June 27, 2019. Retrieved July 30, 2019.
  2. ^ Murphy-Larronde, Suzanne (1998-09-27). "Old San Juan is new again". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved 2021-04-27 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b Thrasher, Paula (2005-09-26). "A look on foot at Old San Juan". Rocky Mount Telegram. Archived from the original on 2021-04-27. Retrieved 2021-04-26 – via newspapers.com.
  4. ^ Haldeman, Peter. "El Convento". Architectural Digest. Archived from the original on 2015-06-01. Retrieved 2021-04-27.
  5. ^ Nagle Myers, Gay (1997-08-13). "Former Carmelite Cloister Reborn as Luxurious El Convento". Travel Weekly. Archived from the original on 2021-04-27. Retrieved 2021-04-27.

External links[edit]