Where to stay in Puerto Rico
San Juan has modern Americanised hotels and there is similar lodging in Ponce and Mayagüez. Many resorts are on the island's southeastern coast, including Gran Melia, El Conquistador, and Bahia Beach. Vieques has also attracted major international hotel development in recent years, most recently with a W Hotel. Most of the major American chains have properties on the island, among them Intercontinental, Ritz, St Regis, Marriott, and Hilton.
San Juan is also home to a number of boutique and speciality hotels representing a range of price points. Da'House and Casa Blanca, both in Old San Juan, are affordable and charming, while El Convento and The Cervantes in Old San Juan represent the higher, more luxurious end of the speciality hotel scale. La Concha, while not a boutique hotel, is an icon in Puerto Rico and is located in the capital. Renovated after decades of non-use, La Concha, so named because of a design flourish shaped like a seashell, is deemed one of the best examples of tropical modernism architecture. Its lobby and patio are also one of the hottest nightlife see-and-be-seen spots in San Juan.
In Ponce, you'll find several mid-range and budget chains, including Ramada and Holiday Inn. One alternative, if you're looking for local flavour, is the Hotel Melia, a family-owned property located right on the city's main plaza. On the northwest coast, independently owned small hotels are popular and are often run by expats. These are laid-back, friendly places to stay.
On the island of Vieques, a number of luxurious small properties have gained a loyal following. Hix Island House, built and owned by an architect, is perhaps the best known of these.
One interesting alternative to traditional hotels is the parador, located primarily outside the main urban areas. Paradores (government-sponsored country inns) are independently owned lodges and villas. The paradores are certified by the government and are often family owned.
Note that hostels and other traditional backpacker and budget travel accommodation are not common in Puerto Rico.
Regardless of where you plan to stay, be sure to ask about the local hotel tax and whether any additional charges (such as resort fees, internet use fees, and parking fees) are applied to your stay. These charges can add significantly to your lodging bill.
Bed and breakfast
Bed and breakfast lodging has not been a popular type of accommodation in Puerto Rico; however, the number of B&Bs has increased in recent years.
The Puerto Rico National Parks Company (Compañia de Parques Nacionales de Puerto Rico) has six 'vacation centers' around the island, primarily in the interior, where visitors can camp in tents or hire cabins. Accommodation is basic; be sure to ask what services are available (ie running water, showers, access to food) prior to making your reservation.
Apartments and condominiums are available from a number of companies specialising in renting this type of accommodation, and are popular in beach towns and in Old San Juan, as well as on Culebra and Vieques.