Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
St.Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
April 13, 2008
by Tys Sniffen
San Francisco, California
March 15, 2005
From journal Puerto Rico Stomp
New York, New York
January 3, 2005
I'll never know if this place has a name in Spanish, as there is no sign out front, but the only English word I ever heard from the owner was "cash". While I appreciated Señor Castro's lack of English skills—since it presented a rare opportunity for us to practice Spanish—the mood was quickly broken when he required payment at 1am for our first night's stay.
It seemed that all rooms with air-conditioning lacked windows, having a bizarre arrangement of a/c units extending overhead into the interior hallway. The bathroom is shared—gross—and devoid of everything but toilet paper. There is the famous upstairs room (you can read about it in other reviews), which seems nice and has a window, but no a/c. I must conclude that this greedy old man, who is now charging $45 for these rooms (double what he did four years ago), doesn’t want any cool air escaping to the outside world.
The pay-before-you-sleep system was taken to a new extreme the next morning when Señor Castro demanded cash for the following night (it was 11am!). We paid, only to find out an hour later that a friend had reserved a room for us elsewhere and that there was room for us there. We retrieved our bags, planning to use the prepaid night two days later; once we left Old San Juan, though, we never went back.
It's not clear what Señor Castro does with his earnings from the hotel, as he lives quite plainly in a room almost as bad as the ones he rents out. In any case, who cares--stay away!
From journal December Sunburn in Puerto Rico
February 17, 2002
Located on Calle Tanca, between San Francisco and Fortaleza, you''d be hard pressed to stay closer to the action. Built in 1916, this was once an upscale apartment building. In typical style, the ground floor is commercial space. Above, the apartments have been divided into smaller lodgings. The second and third floors each have two balcony rooms overlooking the street. At $40 a night, these are the most expensive rooms. I stayed in one and would dislike settling for less. Interior rooms go for as little as twenty bucks a night, but have no windows. Splurge on the balcony room. I greatly enjoyed just hanging out over the street, soaking up the ambience. Keep in mind, it's still half the price of even modest digs elsewhere in town.
Putting it bluntly, the place is rather dirty. There's evidently no staff other than the man that runs the joint and it shows. The marble stairs are worth thousands, the tile floors are beautifully laid and the ornamentation reminds of a time when great pride was put into construction. However, this building's glory days are long gone. My room was large, but poorly lit. There was no air conditioning, but a ceiling fan and floor fan sufficiently cooled the room. The near constant breeze in Old San Juan added noticeably to the comfort level with the balcony opened up.
I don't know if all rooms have them, but my quarters had a mini-refrigerator. I was nearly ecstatic to discover this and found it handy for chilling my bottled water and a six-pack of Medalla.
The bathrooms are communal; two per floor. I knew this ahead of time, but what did not occur to me, though it should have, was to bring my own towel. I felt foolishly unsurprised at the lack of towels the first time I went for a shower.
When staying at the guesthouse, you may make advance reservations, but evidently it's not required. To ensure a balcony room, book in advance. Call ahead and you'll be instructed to mail a deposit check equaling one night's stay. This place ONLY accepts cash. Once there, Enrique Castro, the proprietor, will return your check. Mr. Castro, incidentally, is quite amiable, but speaks no English. There may be someone around to translate for him, but don't count on it. If there's not, don't worry. My Spanish was little better than his English and we got along just fine.
You won't be living in splendor, but I consider the Guest House Old San Juan a real value if you're on a tight budget. My next trip to Old San Juan, I just may be calling on Senor Castro.
From journal On the Cheap in Old San Juan