- Where to Go
- The Best of the Dominican Republic
- A Nature Lover’s Dominican Trek
- The Sexiest Dominican Beaches
- Historical Dominican Road Trip
- A Dominican Culture Tour
- Carnaval and Its Masks
- Planning Your Dominican Wedding
- Dominican Adventures
- Golfing the Dominican Republic
- Dominican Music and Dance
- La Ruta del Mango
- Day-Tripping in Monte Plata
- The Best Small Resorts
Most visitors to Santo Domingo prefer to stay in the Ciudad Colonial because many of the accommodations here are filled with charm, history, and beauty. The enchanting courtyards and well-restored rooms within the converted colonial buildings brim with history and a romantic ambience that is impossible to resist. The typical Spanish brick archways and wrought-iron balconies decorated with flowers overlook cobblestone streets.
There is the added bonus of being within walking distance of a majority of the city’s historical sites, shopping along Calle El Conde, world-class dining options, and fun nightlife.
Hotel Aída (Espaillat 254, tel. 809/685-7692, fax 809/221-9393, US$45 in advance with fan only) has a convenient location near El Conde and is family run. Unfortunately, the rooms have no windows but are nice and clean. Some sleep three, and all rooms have private hot-water bathrooms. Given its low price and central location, it is popular and often full. There are no safety boxes in the rooms. They serve coffee and bread in the morning. There’s a terrace overlooking foot traffic on Calle El Conde that’s great for people-watching.
Hotel Freeman (Isabela La Católica, tel. 809/689-3961, US$30 d) has rather plain rooms, but they are clean. All have two queen-size beds and a private bathroom. The best thing this hotel has going for it is its location, just a half a block from Parque Colón.
The Dominican Republic doesn’t have proper hostels like in Europe, but Bettye’s Guest House (Isabela La Católica, tel. 809/688-7649, US$22–44) is as close as you’ll get in Santo Domingo. You can choose between a bed in a dorm situation where you share a bathroom, or there are a couple of private rooms available for rental as well. The guest house doubles as an art gallery and is in an optimal location in the Ciudad Colonial. The price includes breakfast.
The charming Antiguo Hotel Europa (Arzobispo Meriño at Emiliano Tejera, www.antiguohoteleuropa.com, tel. 809/285-0005, US$75 d), built at the turn of the 20th century, has since been remodeled and has beautiful wrought-iron balconies. Most of the modern, standard rooms have a balcony (but make sure to request it), and all have a queen-size bed and tile floors. The Europa is a couple of blocks away from Plaza de la Hispanidad. Continental breakfast is included in the rate. Its Terraza Restaurant and Bar has Dominican cuisine and is on the roof, offering fantastic views of the ruins of the San Francisco monastery and the Ciudad Colonial. There is also a lobby bar.
El Beaterío Guest House (Av. Duarte 8, tel. 809/687-8657, www.elbeaterio.com, US$80 d with a/c) is a 16th-century abbey and has been renovated to have all modern conveniences without losing any historical charm. It is in the thick of the Ciudad Colonial. A stone-floored and plant-filled courtyard has wrought-iron balconies and terra-cotta rooftops with tiled stairways, making this an impressive sight. The rooms are small but comfortable and romantic with the exposed beam ceilings and colonial decor. Breakfast is included in the rate.
Hotel Conde de Peñalba (El Conde at Arzobispo Meriño, tel. 809/688-7121, www.condepenalba.com, US$75 with windows) has, without a doubt, the best location in the whole Ciudad Colonial, right in front of the Parque Colón. Try to get a room that has a balcony overlooking the park; room number 420 is the best with views of El Conde, Parque Colón, and all the way out to the sea. All of the rooms on the west side of the hotel have good views with flower-laden balconies—otherwise you will be in the back and have a very different view, but still a comfortable room. The trade-off: What you gain in view in this hotel, you will suffer in street noise. The restaurant on the first floor is a very popular spot for guests and nonguests alike. The rooms are comfortable and the bathrooms are quite small but have hair dryers and hot water. All rooms have air-conditioning, telephone, cable, and safety boxes. The hotel offers Internet service at the rate of US$2 for up to a half-hour.
At the 96-room Hotel Mercure Comercial (El Conde and Hostos, tel. 809/688-5500, www.accorhotels.com, US$94 d), all rooms have phones, TVs, fridges, and nice bathrooms. Tax, service, and breakfast are included in the rate. This is a favorite for business travelers; it has Internet service. Located right on the busy El Conde, the restaurant out front offers fantastic people-watching, definitely the best thing about the hotel; otherwise it is quite modest. It’s no in the same category as the other colonial charmers. This has been renovated to be more of a Holiday Inn-type accommodation. You’re paying for location with this one.
Hotel Discovery (Calle Arzobispo Nouel and Palo Hincado, www.discoverygranhotel.com, tel. 809/687-4048, US$65d), across the street from the Parque Independencia and at the start of Calle El Conde, puts you at the heart of the Ciudad Colonial. This is a good find. The hotel has clean, albeit simple, even bland rooms and a tastefully decorated rooftop terrace complete with a dipping pool to soak away the stress from a day of sightseeing.
US$100 and Up
Doña Elvira (Padre Billini 207, tel. 809/221-7415, www.dona-elvira.com, US$90–130) is a 16th-century home that has been renovated into a 15-room hotel. The building retains its original beams in the 20-foot high ceiling. In the courtyard, you can take a dip in the pool or in the Jacuzzi, which is situated under an enormous 100-year-old mango tree that is still producing fruit. Rooms have cable TV, phones, wireless Internet, air-conditioning, fans, king- or queen-size (very comfortable) beds, and safety boxes upon request. Ask about tours and Spanish lessons at the front desk. All of the rooms are comfortable and charming. The unique Columbus room sleeps up to four people in one lofted bed and a couch in the main mezzanine; the lofted bed situation is a bit difficult if you are over five feet seven inches, and you might need a mountain climbing kit for the treacherously steep staircase. The Antonetta is an elegant and spacious room.
Sofitel Nicolás de Ovando (Calle de las Damas, tel. 809/685-9955, www.sofitel.com, US$238–354 d) is easily the most luxurious hotel in the city, located in the renovated home of the first governor of the New World, Nicolás de Ovando. It is said that Christopher Columbus was once his guest here. The hotel has 107 elegant rooms and suites with stone walls and high dark wood ceilings. All rooms have marble bathrooms, TV, air-conditioning, safe boxes, phones, and Internet hookups. The pool overlooks the Río Ozama, and there is a well-equipped gym and a library. Buffet breakfast is included in the rate. The service is top-notch.
Sofitel Francés (Las Mercedes at Arzobispo Meriño, tel. 809/685-9331, www.accorhotels.com, US$170 d), a restored colonial mansion, is the sister hotel to the Sofitel Nicolás de Ovando. Rooms have high ceilings, very comfortable beds, and dark wood furnishings. They surround the beautiful courtyard that holds the comfortable tables and chairs of the restaurant, which serves wonderful food. Breakfast is included in the rate.
A boutique hotel, Hodelpa Caribe Colonial (Isabela La Católica 159, tel. 809/688-7799, www.hodelpa.com, US$100 d) has 54 rooms and is centrally located in the Ciudad Colonial, with many restaurants, bars, and shops right outside the front door. Rooms are modern but lack the charm that most hunger for when traveling to the Ciudad Colonial. The hotel and rooms are very clean and comfortable. All have air-conditioning, TV, and fridge. On-site amenities include a bar, restaurant, and Internet service.
© Ana Chavier Caamaño from Moon Dominican Republic, 4th edition