When I recently visited Puerto Rico, my mother and father told me I must go see the lobby of El San Juan. “You’ll feel like you’re in ‘Casablanca,'” said my mom, and Dad said that it is honestly the most beautiful hotel lobby he has ever seen — anywhere in the world. How could I resist?
When we arrived at the Isla Verde (a district of San Juan) beachfront luxury hotel, we quickly discovered there was some kind of prom going on in a ballroom somewhere, but nevertheless, the three separate lobby bars and the shops surrounding them were abuzz with all kinds of people. Silver-foxes danced to the salsa music of the live band (they were really good!), locals chatted on dates, and well-dressed tourists from all over looked comfortable, and were perhaps made a little more elegant simply by their surroundings.
Even if you’re not into the Rob Wynne -esque teardrop art or the outrageous chandelier, you will love the mahogany ceilings, the like of which I’ve never seen. I’m pretty sure that’s what my dad was talking about. There’s also an area of the lobby draped in sheer red curtains — inside is just a sitting area, but it’s made mysterious and seductive by its privacy.
I did a little research into the Waldorf Astoria Collection‘s El San Juan Hotel & Casino, and learned that it’s one of the oldest hotels in the area — it was built in 1957, and was renovated when Waldorf Astoria bought it in 1998 (with millions and millions of dollars). It features a pool with a waterfall and swim-up bar, eight restaurants, and twelve bars and lounges, as well as shopping and, as you might guess from the name, a dazzling casino.
Here are more pictures of the old school glamor and opulence you’ll find at El San Juan. You don’t even have to stay there to appreciate this lobby — I recommend stopping by on your next trip to Puerto Rico.