A disco in every room.

San Juan Travel Blog

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You can't get to Dominica from Chicago without going through Puerto Rico (at least if you fly America Airlines), and the earliest flight from Chicago arrives just a bit too late to catch the last flight to Dominica, so an overnight in San Juan is required. I have no problem with this - Puerto Rico has been good to me in the past, and I am looking forward to a return. I booked a room thru Hotwire, and was pleased to land at a four star hotel -- "San Juan's only boutique hotel on the beach" -- San Juan Water & Beach Club Hotel. Promising! Since boutique hotels often have impressively designed rooms and fancy soaps and lotions, I was happy with my Hotwire find.

The hotel was less than 10 minutes from the airport, and we finally arrived (after a smoky wait in the cab line -- nicotine deprived travelers desperately sucking on cigarettes) at 9 pm. The stark white lobby was bathed in a blue neon light, making a positive first impression. I soon discovered that blue neon light makes young people look tan and gorgeous, and old people look like cadavers. I avoided the mirrors, which were too plentiful, and tried not to stare too intently at my husband.

Our room was indeed impressively designed and quite comfortable, especially once we figured out how to extinguish the blue neon perimeter lights. We dumped our bags and headed to a nearby cantina for mojitos and margaritas in plastic cups. After that and a quick meal of steamed veggies and red potatoes (doused in butter - guilty and delicious) for me and a steak quesadilla for Steve, we headed back to the hotel for the "crazy DJ party" on the top floor terrace. We actually managed to find seats, and while we waited (a long, long time) for our $10 drinks, we watched the ladies strut by in microscopic outfits and impossibly thick makeup. The DJ plied us with techno, all the same, generic beat.

The music grew increasingly louder, and after 45 minutes, we decided we had enough of the local "culture" and headed back to bed. One problem: the music followed us to our room. Even with windows closed and AC cranked, there was no escaping the insidious beat. Steve fell asleep immediately, as he is wont to do in any situation, but I lay awake for hours, my internal organs bouncing to the beat. It was awful.

I called the front desk at 2am and was assured the music would stop by 3am. That was perhaps a little white lie to placate an unhappy guest, because at 3:30, it was louder than ever, and even Steve's deep sleep style was no match for the vibrating windows and thundering bass. We lay awake and plotted torture methods for the DJ, and debated whether or not the CIA really used persistent house music as a torture method for political prisoners. It seemed pretty plausible. I spoke to my friend at the front desk again, with slightly less patience. I even threatened to start a blog (and here you have it) and post negative entries on sites like TripAdvisor.com. Steve called the police, and made a visit to the lobby, but was ultimately ineffective since he couldn't be heard over the music.

Let me just wrap this up and say the police did make a visit, and the music did end, eventually. I even slept--quite blissfully-- for several hours, surrounded by the best down pillows to be found in any hotel. In the morning, the manager acknowledged the "music had been too loud," blamed the famous DJ from New York, and graciously refunded my $188 for the room. And we had a top notch breakfast in the hotel's restaurant before heading off to the airport.

I do not know if disco music is a regular feature in the rooms of San Juan Water & Beach Club, but I won't risk it by staying there again. If you would like to experience "San Juan's only boutique hotel on the beach" I just recommend you call ahead to enquire about parties that might coincide with your visit. And if you want to experience the hotel's terrace disco, I suggest you do it as a visitor from another hotel, so that when you are ready to sleep, you can escape the beat.
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San Juan
photo by: sethwd2