10 Traveller reviews from Holiday Watchdog
Nice hotel, but disappointing experiene
"My son and I stayed at the Sheraton Old San Juan from April 11-15, 2005. We were looking forward to our stay and were excited even though it started to rain just as we arrived at the hotel. The hotel posts a check-in time of 3:00 p.m., and we arrived around 3:15. The bell staff immediately escorted us from our cab and took our luggage into the tastefully decorated and bustling lobby. When I went to check-in, the staff took my credit card, had me sign the necessary papers, and then informed me that there were no rooms at that time, and to come back in 10 minutes. There was no apology, explanation, or courtesy extended to me. I sat in the lobby with my son and luggage--waited 10 minutes (during which I saw 3 people come in and get room keys) and went back to the front desk. Again, I was told to come back in 10 minutes. When I protested more vigorously, another desk clerk told me that people had not checked out of their rooms, and that there was a waiting list from 8 that morning. This clerk then told me to come back in 20 minutes. Again, no sincere offers of apology or willigness to do anything to make-up for the problem.
When I came back the third time, I was handed room keys without a folio or even an explanation as to what floor my room was on. No apology for the delay was offered, nor did anyone offer to assist us with our luggage up to the room. Needless to say, this check-in experience did not endear me to this hotel.
My son and I shared a double room with a view of the parking lot (our punishment I guess), but the room was actually pretty nice. Nice size bathroom, and the beds were quite comfortable. The room had been recently remodeled so everything was quite new. The closet was small--a stand alone wood closet that had a safe in it, but perfect size for our short stay.
I had to call housekeeping several times during the stay because they could never seem to get the number of towels right for 2 people, and it took 3 hours on day two to get an ice bucket... On day four, housekeeping came to clean the room around 4--in which case we were there taking a break from the sun. We had been gone since 10 and came back at 3:30. This was the only day that it was a problem.
The pool is quite small, but is beautifully located on the top of the hotel so that you have spectacular views of the water and any cruise ships that might be docked. It's perfect for small kids as it only runs from 3 to 4 feet deep. They provide towels so you don't need to bring any from rooms.
We did not use room service, but had a nice buffet breakfast in the restaurant downstairs. A bit pricey at $17.50/person, but enjoyable, and the staff was outstanding.
The location of the hotel is perfect for those that are taking cruises as the piers are right there. The hotel is located just a short distance from the tourism center and is within walking distance of many fine places to eat.
I honestly don't know if I would stay at that hotel again. I gave it a neutral/average rating because I got a good deal in terms of the room rate on Hotwire, and because the room itself was pretty comfortable. However, if customer service is important to you, then you may want to think twice."
- Travel date: Wed 27th of April 2005
Very Nice Experience
"After reading many mixed reviews of this hotel, we approached our stay with some apprehension. It was not necessary. We arrived around 1 PM to a bright, friendly hotel. Front desk staff were very pleasant and efficient and within minutes we were checked in. I had prepared myself for a dingy room but instead there was a large, airy, well appointed room. No view, just looking down on the roof of another building, but the room itself was just fine. Breakfast in the restaurant was lovely as you had a choice of ordering off the menu or having the buffet. The buffet was a good choice as they made fresh omelettes, and had a wide selection of foods. The casino was quite busy but the machines were fairly open and it was a lively atmosphere. Checkout went smoothly and all in all it was a fine experience. We had two wonderful local dinners at Mojito, just a block up of the hotel."
- Travel date: Tue 19th of April 2005
Hotel in Transition Stage
"This Sheraton right on the harbor in Old San Juan and only a few steps away from the historic center was formerly a Wyndham property. The location is very convenient and the rooms all have a view, on one side of Old San Juan and on the other of the harbor and the cruise ships. There were only two drawbacks in my opinion. One was that it is a casino hotel with a small casino in the lobby. The second is that the rooms are rather run-down. However the Sheraton is in the process of upgrading the rooms. The concierge level was only so-so. Breakfast selections were very limited and the afternoon drinks/hors d'oeuvres were charged to your room on an honor system. It did have a nice roof top swimming pool and health club. And the restaurant was excellent. Service in the restaurant was top notch with very informed and informative wait staff, attentive but not intrusive, accurate and well timed. I suppose if the Sheraton continues its improvements and its transition from Wyndham ways to Sheraton style, this hotel will be above average. There are excellent restaurants within a few blocks walking distance."
- Travel date: Thu 17th of March 2005
No towels, shampoo, conditioner, sheets
We just stayed at the "brand new" Sheraton in the Old Town of San Juan prior to take our cruise to the Eastern Caribbean. We chose this hotel because of Starwood's good reputation, this hotel does not deserve to be part of this chain. The hotel claims to have a 3 pm check in, yet we waited over 3 hours to check in, we were given our room after 7 pm. Once we got to our room, we did not have sheets, towels, shampoo or even soap. We were told that the hotel did not have the basic inventory. I asked for suggestions and none was provided, not alternatives.
Check out was even worse, the lobby looked like Central Station in New York. We had to wait for over one hour to pay our bill. It was very uncomfortable and it ruined our first day of our vacations.
I will tell all my friends about this horrible experience. If you are ever in Puerto Rico, look for other hotels. Do not stay at the Sheraton Old Town."
- Travel date: Sat 12th of March 2005
Great Deal & Location!
"We stayed for 4 days at the end of Feb 2005 in a Junior Suite. It's true that the hotel doesn't have great amenities or much character in decorator schemes. However, we were there during the most busy season with a full hotel and found the hotel to be clean, well kept and on-the-whole very friendly service. San Juan in general isn't the fastest service place in the world - but hey - you're on vacation right? What's your hurry. Relax! This hotel has LOCATION in capital letters. You have a short walk to get anywhere in San Juan. We walked everywhere and shopped, ate and poked around the city 'til we dropped! I thought the rates were very reasonable for high season - especially as compared with other locals in PR. The pool has a great view of the cruise ships and is perfect for an afternoon rest from treking the hills around San Juan. It's not huge, not that deep and not an elegant setting. There is no bar poolside but I saw people bring their own alcohol and my husband brought me a drink from the bar where they insisted on giving him a nice glass. My son used the exercise room everyday and his only complaint was that the reception on one of the TVs was not that great. We had wonderful help from the bell boys and lobby staff. People went out of their way to be friendly and helpful. We were very happy here and while this hotel is not the Ritz - it's perfectly adequate for a short stay. 4 days is too long if you are just touring San Juan. You can do the city in a couple days. As noted in all the reviews - Do the rainforest tour. The concierge can help you with this. Also, we found very good rates in car rentals when we were ready to leave for other destinations (see reviews of Westin Rio Mar and Palmas Del Mar). You can pick the car up here instead of the hassle at the airport. Don't even ask about the airport! I never saw such an inefficient system in my life and I've traveled extensively. One tip when you leave - you must go thru USDA even though there are no customs requirements and you have no plants, food, etc. It's a royal pain because they don't have good information for travelers and you will wait in long lines, only to find out that you have to get this stamp first before you can check in."
- Travel date: Wed 9th of March 2005
Great place to stay
"We stayed at this hotel precruise for 2 days and it was just great. We were very impressed when we first arrived with the helpfulness of the people at the front desk and the prompt service we received.
The room we got was absolutely great. Very clean and spacious and it had the most comfortable bed I've ever slept in. We noticed there was no ice bucket when we got to the room so we called room service and had an ice bucket filled with ice delivered to our room within minutes.
The room had shutters on the windows instead of curtains which we liked. Check out the shower curtain rods.. they are really cool..and make the shower feel extra spacious.
The hotel is right across from the docks which concerned me until I arrived there. I expected it might be a rather unclean and dangerous area but it was not that way at all. The hotel is within walking distance of the Carnival dock and is also within walking distance of the rest of Old San Juan.
There is a great restaurant in front of the hotel that I believe may be part of the hotel complex that is called Mofongo's. We ate dinner there just before Valentines day and the rib eye steak was reasonable, quite big, and done just right. We also found that they had conch on the menu as part of an appetizer and were really glad to find it since we had tried to find it to try on a previous cruise but could not find anywhere. We had a great waiter named Omar who was quite patient and helpful and answered my numerous questions about the food and how it was prepared. We went back the next morning for breakfast and it was really good and reasonable and again we received great service. We did go there for lunch post cruise also-which shows how much we liked it since we stayed in Isla Verde post cruise at the Marriott which is about 15 minutes per taxi and about an hour per bus (the buses don't exactly run on schedule but they only cost 25 cents per person so how can you complain).
There was a Senor Frogs right behind the hotel that we tried but I was not really impressed. There was a 5.00 cover charge each and the singer with the band was really good but the only food I saw there was hot dogs but we did go there rather late. When we went on our walking tour the next day we did see another Senor Frogs a few blocks uphill that may have been better.
As for touring Old San Juan there is so much to see you should take a couple days. There is a free trolley that takes you around if you would rather not walk up and down hill too much. We went on a self directed walking tour for 6 hours the day after we arrived and I got some really big blisters to prove it. Next time I'll try the trolley service which seems to run quite frequently. Despite the blisters walking around San Juan was one of the highlights of our trip. On our way back to the hotel we ate at a small place called Spanglish. The food was quiet good and reasonable.
The night we arrived we got there rather late so after we checked in we went for a walk to enjoy the great weather..I saw some flashing lights down the block and wanted to investigate so we walked down a couple blocks. They have a party boat named La Rhumba that looked like a lot of fun but we were tired so we didn't try it. We did try some empanadilla's from a street vendor for a dollar each and they were really good. They sell everything from crafts to pizza to snow cones near the docks from the street vendors. We watched the snow cone vendor shave ice from a big block of ice to make the snow cones with. If you are there during the day stop in at the tourism office where they will give you a map. When we were there they said they were having a rum promotion and gave us free drinks and those mini bottles of Bacardi flavored rum.
This hotel has a roof top pool and hot tub. The pool was clean but rather small and I never saw anyone getting in it. People mostly used that area for getting a tan. There is however a great view from the rooftop so be sure to take your camera up there. There is also locker rooms and a fitness area inside the building next to the pool.
The one thing I did think was a little different was that the pop and ice machines were in shuttered small areas not easily noticed. I decided it was probably because these small areas were not air conditioned and apparantly give off heat.
The elevators worked well and the air conditioning was great.
If you're going to be in San Juan for a while I would stay in Old San Juan for the sightseeing part of my stay and I would stay in Isla Verde for the beach part. I would avoid the Condado area since there were a lot of derelict buildings and graffiti mixed in with the new hotels....We stayed at the Marriott in Isla Verde for a post cruise day and it was great. I think that one of the reasons that the reviews are mixed for these hotels depends on when you are arriving because we did notice a lot of people waiting for rooms while we were checking out to go to the cruise ship. They were checking in on a Sunday and probably looking to check in early since it was only about 1pm and we arrived on a Friday night. I think that makes a big difference since Carnival ships come in and leave on Sundays.
All things considered I will definitely stay here again while in San Juan.."
- Travel date: Wed 23rd of February 2005
"Unbelievable! This hotel's location is the best right in front of the cruiseships and walking distance to a lot of entertainment and restaurants. Wje took a short vacation before going in our cruise. The hotel was in great shape and the service was outstanding. We loved the restaurant in the first floor. The beds were amazing. It is also close to all the historic buildings. If we go back to Puerto Rico we will stay there again. LOVE IT."
- Travel date: Sun 13th of February 2005
Pretty good service, I'm impressed
"I stayed for two days........2/1-2/3. Check in was quick and easy. The front desk staff was professional and efficent. The bellperson was friendly and quick to respond.
Our room was spacious, and well appointed. Really cool Bombay Company......Pier1 looking furnishings. The room was relatively clean and but very cold. My view was nonexistent, I was facing a parking lot. The beds felt wonderful..........very restful. Cleaning staff very nice, but when returning from a day out...............my room was cleaned so-so.
The fitness center was decent. The pool was located on the 9th floor had very nice views of the harbor.
The room service was mediocre and very expensive..........food was warm, chicken was dry not impressed. They have a policy of granting comps if the food is not delivered in 30 mins, so my dinner was free.
The maid took my ice bucket, I called the front desk, in less than 3 mins. I recieved a bucket full of ice with a complimentary hard back book about Puerto Rico, very nice.
My only real complaints are that the room gets extremely cold, and they offer no heat. I was freezing most of the time. The beds are nice but they are not good for two people they are kinda small.
I would still here again."
- Travel date: Fri 4th of February 2005
Great Hotel for Old San Juan
"We stayed here on 1-29-5 for a night before our cruise. We had a king bed suite with two doors which opened up to the main street over looking the harbor. The front door staff walked out and met our taxi and pointed us to the front desk and helped with our bags. The check in went very quick. The front desk person friendly and gave us a map of old san juan and tips on where to go. She advised they were having a street festival and gave us sugestions on where to go for that. The room was ready an hour early and they got us right in. The room was very large with a bedroom and a large living area with a couch, two chairs, flat screen tv, desk and the the doors to the overlook. There was a seperate bathroom with amenities. The room was very clean and the sheets on the bed and the pillows were awesome. We slept very well. There is a inroom safe in the bedroom. There is a small casino there but we did not use it. There also is a restaurant with a great terrace view over looking the harbor. There is one pier right by the hotel but this appeared to be used by carnival. We had the Pan Amercian Pier for Royal Carribean cruise, this pier is a 10 dollar cab ride which took about 10 minutes. The ferry to the rum factory was right across the street also. We walked downtown and enjoyed the festival, great street music and food and toured the two forts and the many street squares with beautiful water fountains and statues. There are many smalls shops which sell the tourists things. Also there is the usual fast food places and a walgreens close by. The streets were very safe even at night. There were policemen at about ever other corner.
Our check out went smooth and quick. They stored our luggage for a few hours while we did some more sight seeing and then they called us a cab and we were off.
I would definitely stay here again! I only wish we stayed for more than one night."
- Travel date: Wed 2nd of February 2005
Perfect Hotel for Cruisers ! !
"If you need a hotel to stay at a couple of days before a cruise, this is the hotel for you ! It is directly across the street from the cruise pier !
I flew in from New York four days before my Carnival Destiny Cruise, planning to visit San Juan before starting the cruise. It was the Wyndham when I booked it on Expedia, and found out when I got there, that just three weeks prior, it became the Sheraton. I was happy, because I know that Sheraton has the most comfortable beds and pillows in the world. Sheraton calls their beds the " Sweet Sleeper ", and they are so correct. I loved my room, it had the biggest bed with the plushest, sofetest mattress, and six plush pillows !
A large, Zenith TV, and a large lounging chair with ottoman.
I was especially impressed with the rooftop pool. It has the most breathtaking views of the cruise pier with the docked cruiseships !
I booked through the Concierge a tour of the San Juan Rain Forest, which was lovely and we had the nicest, friendliest guide.
Also across the street near the Pier, is a party boat called " La Rhumba " which sails every day, and it is alot of fun.
I have to say, I did not like the food in the Hotel Restaurant. It is very expensive, and everything I had was dry as a bone, even the mashed potatoes were dry and hard. I went the last day to " Senor Frog 's " in back of the Hotel, and it was great.
I will be cruising from San Juan again, and will stay at this hotel...but I won''t eat there !
You are welcome to E-mail me if you have any questions."
- Travel date: Fri 21st of January 2005