About this listing
Welcome to our suites/museum/gallery in San Juan's Arts & Culture District. If you appreciate art, culture, music & history in an local neighborhood, this may perfect for you! A very local experience, but minutes to Beaches, Condado & Old San Juan!
Historic house was originally built in 1915 as a one level house and expanded in the late 1920's to add second floor with arched balcony and mosaics typical of 'Santurce' architecture.
The penthouse suite occupies the entire third floor - there are two flights of stairs - approximately 18 steps each.
The penthouse level has a dramatic vaulted entry where the original cistern for the house was located.
On one side of the passage is a bedroom with king bed and an 'invisible wall' that you can open or close for privacy/airco.
The other side has a 'club style' TV room with overstuffed leather club chairs, flat panel TV and access to the rooftop patio.
The wrap-around patio has a garden, fountain, birds and sometimes you'll hear our own 'coqui' - yes, he sings at night 'coqui, coqui, coqui'.
There is also a kitchenette and pantry area with mini fridge, coffee maker, toaster and microwave. There is an electric skillet, but the penthouse is not really designed for cooking other than light snacks.
There is a walk-in closet and large bathroom with double sinks, urinal (no fights about seat up or down), water closet (separated toilet), bidet and glass-walled shower (no tub).
The vibe is 'urban santuary' with lots of space and privacy.
The door to the penthouse level has a lock and key and patio doors all lock for security. The main living area is screened for protection from mosquitos. The large bathroom is very open, so this area is not completely screened.
NATURE ALERT: The house has a very open design that encourages open doors and windows. There may be small lizards in the courtyard (we like them - they're cute and they eat mosquitoes). Small birds and hummingbirds are common. If you're lucky, you'll see a 'coqui' tree frog. Mosquitoes blow in when the wind comes from the lagoons during rainy weather (we provide spay and have screens on the bedroom doors/windows).
All guests enter the house through the same gate and front door using your blue key. Please make sure to always double-check the front door and the front gate by pulling it with your hand to make sure that it is securely locked.
You'll enter the lobby - and have access to beach towels/chairs, suntan lotions, yoga mats, bug stuff, umbrellas, tourist info/guides and our coffee/tea bar.
You will use your green key to open the door to the stairway that leads up to the second floor landing/dining room.
You'll continue through the dining room and up to your private penthouse.
Use the yellow key for the penthouse door.
Interaction with Guests
After you arrive and get settled, I'll give you a tour of the neighborhood so you understand the Arts District, History and where to find supermarkets, banks, restaurant, museums, bars, clubs and galleries.
I'm always happy to help with directions or recommendations and love getting feedback on your adventures in San Juan.
I have my office hotel/tourism consulting at the back of the museum just off the lobby and is available from approximately 9am-9pm.
There is also a workroom in the art gallery - so if you don't find me in the museum, just shout out in the gallery.
When you arrive, I'll take you on a walking tour of the neighborhood and show you all arts venues, restaurants, bars, supermarket, ATMs, way to the beach, bus stops, etc. and end up at Plaza del Mercado.
The Santurce area of San Juan was the center of all business, shopping, restaurants, theaters and nightlife from the 1940's - 1980's. Often referred to as the 'Times Square' of Puerto Rico. Our area of Ponce de Leon had so many exclusive shops and boutiques it was called 'The Fifth Avenue of the Caribbean'. There was an elegant 'Rainbow Room' style dinner club one block away at 'Top of the First' and the highest concentration of movie palaces in the Caribbean.
All this changed when TV came to Puerto Rico. While the US mainland had their 'golden age' of TV in the 1950's, it wasn't until the 1970's that Puerto Rico developed their own local programming. After this, people could just sit at home for entertainment and no longer supported so many theaters. At the same time, the Hato Rey business district was created - luring many businesses out of Santurce. The final blow came when Plaza las Americas opened in the 1980's and Ponce de Leon Avenue was no competition for the largest shopping mall in the Caribbean. The neighborhood gradually just faded away with abandoned buildings and theaters on every block.
But like many urban areas - artists and creative entrepreneurs discovered a wealth of great spaces - just a few minutes walk across the highway from the best tourism areas of Condado and Ocean Park. Started as a 'grass roots' effort with private clubs, galleries, bars, etc. in the areas surrounding the Fine Arts Center (4 theaters and Symphony Hall).
The Arts District was formalized with the opening of the Puerto Rico Museum of Art in a former hospital, The Museum of Contemporary Art in a former public school and the Conservatory of Music in a former Catholic School.
With the Miramar Historic District at one end and Sacred Heart University at the other - it now forms the highest concentration of arts in the Caribbean.
The neighborhood is still evolving - so some blocks are still abandoned and a bit shabby around the edges. This isn't a Disney-style gentrification area, but a real urban neighborhood that has everything from homeless to ultra-chic condos and lots of artists and interesting characters in between. But even the bad blocks are considered safe for tourists and have some of the best urban art in the world!
If you want a generic resort vacation, this may not be for you... but if you want a fascinating local experience with easy access to great beaches, UNESCO World Heritage, authentic Puerto Rico living and some of the friendliest people in the world - this might be perfect for your trip to San Juan!
When you arrive at the airport - the only real alternatives for transportation are taxi or rental car. Taxis are flat-rate from the airport at $20 plus $1 per luggage and any tip (10% is customary here). Rental car rates vary so shop around. Off-season rates can be very reasonable and when you consider a taxi from the airport will be about $22 each way - it may make sense to rent for your entire stay even if you don't use it every day. There is free parking on the street in front of the house.
If you do only want a rental for a day or two - both Target Rental Car and Bella Rental Car are within walking distance of the house.
If you don't plan on exploring outside San Juan, you really don't need a car at all.
The house is approximately a 10 minute drive from the airport. I'll send a map with directions after you reserve.
We have the best bus service in San Juan at the end of our block - with regular service to Old San Juan from 5am - 11pm every day.
I'll send a detailed bus guide after you reserve.
While we're not on the beach - we're only a 14 minute walk to Ocean Park Beach (the best beach in San Juan), or a short bus ride to Condado beaches or the Escambrón Beach near the Caribe Hilton.
I'll also send you a detailed walking tour that also includes our 24/7 supermarket (3 blocks away), restaurants, bars, discos, museums, galleries, nightlife, shopping, etc.
There is no public transportation outside of San Juan.
If you plan to visit the rain forrest, bio-bay, caverns, Luquillo beaches, etc. you will either have to rent a car or take a tour.
NOTE: If you are combining San Juan and Vieques or Culebra - your only options are flying or ferry.
Flights leave from both San Juan's airports (SJU or Isla Grande) so check to make sure which one you choose. Flights are expensive, but get you there on time - and very short so you maximize time on the islands.
If you choose the ferry - you have to drive at least 1 hour to Fajardo, find the ferry terminal and make sure to park in the 'secure parking'. If you take a taxi, it will be approximately $85 each way.
The ferry is run by the government and is a constant source of complaints, frustration and ruined plans. Ferry tickets are only available at the terminal (no online sales) and local residents of the islands get priority. Make sure that you also purchase your return ticket if going round-trip since boats fill up quickly. We always recommend a 'plan b' in the event that the ferry is full, weather is bad, or you miss the boat. If everything goes well, the ferry is very cheap - but if you end up loosing your deposit on a hotel in Vieques or Culebra while having to find a last-minute place to stay in Fajardo, it can be much better choice to consider a flight.
Other Things to Note
Puerto Rico Tourism Company Hotelier ID: (PHONE NUMBER HIDDEN).
We have included 7% Tourism Tax in all rates.
Thanks for booking your suite in San Juan's Arts District!
I'll send a complete set of arrival instructions and neighborhood guide by regular email after receiving your reservation.
Please advise me of your airline/flight/time so I can track any delays and make sure that I'm at the house when you arrive.
ARRIVAL: Check-in time is normally at 3pm (earlier may be possible if your suite is not occupied the night before).
- If you have an early morning arrival, book from the night before and I'll meet you at any hour even if it is early morning - then you can go straight to your suite.
- If you arrive on an early morning flight and prefer to wait until check-in time, I usually will be at my office by 9:30am and you can leave luggage in the museum until your suite is ready later in the day.
DEPARTURE: Normal check-out time is 11am. There is no problem with early morning departures - just let me know in advance. Late check-outs can only be arranged once you get to San Juan since it depends on whether your suite is booked on departure day. If you have a very late flight, you can book an extra night, or leave your luggage in the museum until you head out to the airport.
CRITICAL RULE - ELEC/WATER: Turn off airco and lights when not in your suite. Report any water leaks or running toilets. Puerto Rico has some of the highest utility rates in the world - so please make sure that you turn off lights and air conditioners when not in your suite.
SMOKING: No smoking in your suite, but you can smoke in outdoor areas as long as you position so smoke does not go into the suite or public areas.
THE BAND NEXT DOOR: We love the guys from the indie rock band FANTASMES and their recording studio. However, this means there is music most days. Groups range from Reggae, Punk, Trance, New Age, Classical, Dance Hall, 50's Bop, Hard Rock and more. Some are fantastic - others just getting started. Our informal agreement is that they wind down by 11pm but sometimes they get carried away and don't realize what time it is. If they go too late, just let me know and I'll give them a call. Most guests love having the studio next door and we rarely have a problem - but something you should know before booking. Note: we always have earplugs available in the lobby if the band de jour is not your favorite genre.
Photo Identification required on check-in (I'll make a photocopy).
No children under 12 years without approval (per contract with the onsite museum). No pets. No parties or events without approval of the host.
HAVE FUN !!!!
Living in San Juan for 15 years.
Originally from Connecticut, but lived in New York City for many years working in the travel industry and helping develop early online travel applications including Travelocity.
After the 'internet bubble' I moved to the small Caribbean island of Saba and ran a boutique hotel with my Saban cousins on one of the most amazing islands in the world.
My years on Saba were the most amazing experiences and a true 'Don't Stop the Carnival' lifestyle. When Hurricane "Geroges" destroyed the hotel I decided to combine online marketing and hotel operations experience and move to Puerto Rico to work as a tourism consultant. Clients included the Caribbean Hotel Association, Caribbean Tourism Organization plus hotels and resorts throughout the Caribbean, Mexico, South America, Asia and Europe.
Travel extensively in the Caribbean for work, all over the globe for fun - but always glad to come home to San Juan!