I’m so excited to share my experience at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, Puerto Rico on the blog with y’all today! This is the first time I’ve traveled with another blogger (although Whitney and I are also going to NYFW together in a couple weeks!) and it couldn’t have gone more smoothly. The second we got there, we realized we wear the same shoe size. Jackpot, am I right?!
The Caribe Hilton Puerto Rico was kind enough to send a van to pick us up from the airport the morning we arrived in San Juan! We arrived just in time for lunch, so we ate on property at the Piña Colada Club. Whitney had the Mahi Mahi lettuce wraps and I had the garlic shrimp with rice and beans. DELICIOUS.
When we first got to San Juan on Saturday, it was humid and raining off and on. Despite the weather, we were still pleased with the beautiful view of the ocean from our room on the 9th floor! We decided to take that time to relax and go straight to Hilton Caribe’s in-house spa, Olas. We got manis and pedis, with hot tea, pina coladas, and hot herbal heating pads on our shoulders. It was so incredibly relaxing. And we totally loved our manicure ladies!! They were so nice, joked and gossiped with us, and gave us lots of recommendations for things to do and eat in Puerto Rico.
Being that it was a Saturday night, after a long photo shoot Whitney and I decided headed to Old San Juan to eat at Toro Salao. It’s a tapas restaurant, and y’all know how much I adore my tapas and sangria! We also tasted Puerto Rican beer, Medalla. So good! At Toro Salao we ordered the fried Mahi Mahi tacos, patatas bravas, calamari, and the empanadillas!
Both our Uber driver and our waiter told us that THE place to be on a Saturday is La Placita. So after dinner and a few Medallas, we headed to check out the scene! We got there kind of early, but as the night went on it definitely got more crowded! Our favorite bars in the area were El Rubi and Garabatos. Having gone to college in Austin and being used to sixth street vibes and prices, I felt right at home there 😉 .
Unfortunately Sunday the beach was closed because it rained most of the day. The Caribe Hilton has a poolside bar and grill called Atlantico, and they opened their service to the Caribar inside so guests wouldn’t have to eat in the rain. According to the manager, their menu was new! We tried the mango ceviche and the watermelon + feta + chicken salad. SO GOOD!!! Also, did you know that the Caribe Hilton is the birthplace of the pina colada?! They have an official certificate and everything from the Office of Tourism stating that it was invented there! Needless to say, I drank pina coladas every day haha!
After another super long photo shoot, Whitney and I decided to go back to Old San Juan for dinner. We needed cocktails STAT so we chose Dragonfly, an Asian fusion lounge, which happens to be directly next to Toro Salao. We shared the chicken dumplings, and I drank the Dragon Punch. Such a good cocktail! Definitely recommend this restaurant.
On Monday, Whitney and I decided to get an early start and had a buffet breakfast at Caribe Hilton’s restaurant Palmeras. It was a beautiful day out, so we wanted to knock out our last photo shoot to spend the rest of the day in the sun! We also got to watch the eclipse with some new friends we made by the pool. A lady there happened to bring eclipse glasses with her and was kind enough to share so that everyone near the bar could get a glimpse of it. So cool!!
Monday evening we had happy hour at Caribar inside the Caribe Hilton with members of their marketing team. It was so nice to meet the people we had been working with via email! They were incredibly kind and proud of their hotel and culture, and with good reason! The property is gorgeous with a great view, and Puerto Rico itself is a fun tropical destination with lots of history, culture, and delicious food!
Whitney and I then headed to our dinner reservation at Perla inside La Concha Resort. I was pleasantly surprised to realize that La Concha was the resort my family and I stayed at in Puerto Rico 6 years ago! I couldn’t for the life of me remember where it was that we stayed until I walked into the lobby and recognized everything, including the attached casino!
Perla was the most elegant restaurant we ate at during the trip. We adored the ambiance and upscale décor. We had sea bass with lobster risotto and a few glasses of wine.. the perfect combo! It’s so nice to travel with someone that has similar taste in food as you 🙂 .
That night, we were told to check out La Factoria. It turns out this is the bar where the iconic music video Despacito was filmed!! Did you know it’s the most watched YouTube video ever? It’s also been named in the Top 50 bars in the entire world. I actually haven’t fact checked either of these, but the Puerto Ricans are very happy to tell you about it 🙂 . From the outside, the bar isn’t labeled as La Factoria, so we didn’t know that we were in the right place. We had to ask the bouncer and he said, “You’re here!” Pro Tip: This bar actually ID’s because the age is 23+.
The first room of La Factoria seems like a normal kinda dive bar. But then you enter a small wooden door and head to another room, which is a wine bar. Then you head to a third room, which is more of a lounge. And the fourth room is the SALSA ROOM! It was fireeeee in there, y’all! These people looked like professional salsa dancers and Whitney and I were perfectly happy as wallflowers watching them in awe and getting good videos. They’re also known for their lavender mules, of which we drank a few!
Whitney and I had a lunch meeting at Atlantico Bar & Grill (now that it was good weather, we could sit outside by the ocean!) with the GSI (booking tours) and Catering managers. We talked about our previous travels, where to get authentic Puerto Rican food, and more about the property. Yes, more pina coladas here too!
Afterwards, Whitney and I laid out by the pool trying to soak up our last day of sun. 4 days in Puerto Rico just wasn’t enough! 🙂 Since it was Whitney’s first time visiting, we decided to go to Old San Juan during the day and see some of the forts. After meeting with the GM of the hotel, his driver was kind enough to take us directly to La Castillo San Cristobal, one of the two famous forts. (The other is El Morro). We walked around the fort taking in the view, then perused the shops in Plaza de Colon, and walked along the marina until we stopped for drinks at Senor Frog’s (always a good time no matter what city you’re in!)
For dinner, we ate at Princesa Gastrobar which is known for their jungley outdoor patio. We finally tried Puerto Rico’s specialty dish, “mofongo”, and shared a crab stuffed sea bass with a rice medley that was super good! I drank their papaya specialty cocktail which was amazing for those of you who like sweet drinks!
Tuesday nights in Puerto Rico are dead-ish it seems.. Whitney and I were looking to try a trendy area called Calle Loiza which was completely deserted.. the poor Uber drive took us all the way back to La Placita only for us to find out that it was also semi-deserted haha! We wound up back at La Factoria and stayed for a couple hours. Go big or go home, right?
I hope to be back to the Hilton Caribe San Juan one day soon! From the gorgeous views, friendly staff, and fun atmosphere, it was a truly memorable experience. Whit is actually going back in January for a work conference and I’m so jealous! Have you ever been to Puerto Rico? What was your favorite part?!
Photos: Whitney Graham
What I Wore:
Day 1 Nighttime: Burgundy Floral Maxi- Agaci; Sandals- Target (identical here); Bag- Red Dress Boutique (identical here and here); Bracelet- BaubleBar; Earrings- c/o BaubleBar; Lipstick- MAC Hot Gossip
Day 2 Poolside: Lavender Satin Dress- ASOS; Sandals- Steve Madden; Bag- Red Dress Boutique (identical here and here); Earrings- Kendra Scott; Choker- BaubleBar; Sunnies- Karen Walker; Lipstick- POP Satin Rose
Day 4 Poolside: Palm Print Cover Up- ASOS; Bow Sandals- Sam Edelman; Bag- Red Dress Boutique (identical here and here); Hat- Nordstrom; Earrings- Kenneth Jay Lane; Sunnies- Amazon; Lipstick- POP Satin Rose
Day 4 Nighttime: Cold Shoulder Frill Romper- Agaci; Sandals- Target (identical here); Bag- Red Dress Boutique (identical here and here); Bracelet- BaubleBar; Earrings- Kenneth Jay Lane; Lipstick- Dior 999
This post is sponsored by the Hilton Caribe. All opinions are my own.