A few weeks ago, I described El Convento in Old San Juan as a perfect choice hotel for the solo traveler on a large budget. But let’s face it, not every solo traveler going to San Juan will be able to afford this lovely, historic hotel. One way to add it to your itinerary and get a peek inside this former-convent-turned-luxury-hotel is by having a meal in one of their restaurants. If you can only have one meal here, I recommend breakfast at Patio Del Nispero, named for the nispero tree that shades the courtyard. It’s a tranquil spot for a leisurely breakfast.
The courtyard is a calm oasis with both sun and shade. I had a late breakfast, and the restaurant wasn’t busy. I sat at my table, shaded by palm fronds swaying slightly in the light breeze, listening to soothing classical music, enjoying a leisurely meal and coffee, and watching little birds hopping around looking for crumbs. It was so relaxing, I could have sat there all day.
My waiter was a tall, stately gentleman with grey hair and mustache and impeccable service. As happened at Cafe Berlin, he didn’t seem to know what to do with me every time I set down my fork to pick up my pen and write in my journal. He would get a pained expression on his face, as if he thought something was wrong. I would smile broadly whenever I saw him to reassure him I was happy.
For breakfast, I chose the Caribbean Eggs Benedict–which was so much better than regular eggs benedict! In this dish, they swapped out the English muffin for mashed plantains. The plantains gave it a slightly sweet taste to go with the saltiness of the bacon. It came with a side of refreshing fruit. It was absolutely delightful. The coffee here was very good, too. (Total cost: $13.65 before tip)
Once you’re done satisfying your stomach, take some time to wander around the hotel, starting with the courtyard and its grand old nispero tree. Check out the old photos of the history of the hotel that line the hallway on the periphery. If there is no group inside, see if you can peek into the small function room that was painted by local artist Antonio Martorelli. It is a really unique space.
Wander through the lobby to get a sense of the history and luxury of the place. Then head out into Old San Juan to visit San Juan Cathedral across the street and do some sightseeing in the rest of the old city. The Paseo de la Princesa walk is just down the hill from El Convento, and the Forts are up the hill.