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Not Just a Backpacker Special: Cheap (But Good) Hotels in San Juan

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This one's for the under-a-hundred-dollars-a-day crowd. Even in peak season, you can find truly budget accommodations in Puerto Rico, and they aren't all bad. In fact, the ones I've listed here range from decent to surprisingly good deals. If you want to enjoy a Caribbean vacation on the cheap without compromising (too much) on comfort, start planning your trip here.

1. La Caleta Rentals

Photo © Zain Deane

Forget $100 a day; you can book yourself a room at La Caleta Rentals for under $50 in non-peak season. La Caleta has over 30 properties, all with a three-night minimum that can be flexible, depending on demand and time of year. So what do you get for that price? Your options range from studios to three-bedroom apartments. All are clean, well-furnished, with kitchens or kitchenettes and separate living rooms in the larger apartments. They also have access to laundry machines if you need them. There are no porters and no elevators; still, it's by far among the best bargains around.

Contact:
reservations@thecaleta.com
787-725-5347
11 Caleta de Las Monjas in Old San Juan
Realtor Office Address: 151 Calle Clara in Old San Juan

2. Casa del Caribe

Photo © Zain Deane

A tropical B&B, Casa del Caribe is somewhat dwarfed by its lofty Condado surroundings: the Marriott Stellaris Hotel & Casino is a few steps away, along with some of the hippest shopping in San Juan. But this tiny little inn has a mom-and-pop charm and clean, comfortable rooms. It's close to the beach, is about as laid back as you can get, and even has free parking (although this can be a tricky negotiation into a narrow wedge along the side of the hotel). The continental breakfast only adds to the value.

Contact:
877-722-7139 or 787-722-7139
57 Caribe Street in Condado, San Juan

3. Hotel El Portal

I think we'd all agree that if you want to spend less on a hotel, you'll have to give up something. Well, at Hotel El Portal, you give up location. Removed from the beach and Old San Juan (it is, however, conviently close to the Baldorioty de Castro expressway that goes to the old city, this is a good example of a cheap but good hotel in San Juan. The rooms are nothing to rave about, but they are decent and very well priced, and the rate includes a complimentary continental breakfast. You also have a pretty good Japanese restaurant in the lobby called East, which is a lunchtime favorite for working Sanjuaneros.

Contact:
787-721-9010
76 Condado Avenue in Condado, San Juan

4. Tres Palmas Inn

During peak season, the rates at The Tres Palmas ( or "Three Palms") almost kicks it off this list. I'm including it anyway because this small inn offers a lot for the money: beachfront location, pool, rooftop terrace with a Jacuzzi, complimentary breakfast, cable TV and a safe in every room (that last one is especially hard to find in a budget hotel). The inn's well-tended grounds and rooms make it stand out as not just an affordable option, but an inviting one as well.

Contact:
787-727-4617 or 866-372-5627
2212 Park Boulevard, San Juan

5. The Coqui Inn

Isla Verde is the ritzy resort strip of San Juan, so it's not the first place you'd look for cheap hotels. However, The Coqui flaunts the Ritz's and the Intercontinentals of the island with its down-home charm, which comes in at under $100 a night even in high season. For that price, guests are treated to a room with a kitchenette, coffee, tea and donuts every morning, free parking, and a walkway to the beach.

Contact:
787-726-4330 or 800-677-8860
36 Calle Uno, Villamar, Isla Verde, Carolina

6. Coqui del Mar

Photo © Coqui del Mar

When you can climb to the top of TripAdvisor, you must be doing something right, and this intimate spot in Ocean Park certainly has a lot going for it. Its six rooms range in price but you can get accoommodations here for under $100/night. Most rooms are furnished apartment style, and all have full kitchens, private bathrooms, AC, WIFI, in-room safes, cable TV, and DVD players. Some units even come equipped with flat screen TVs, iPod docks, apple computers and Steam showers. For a budget hotel, that's a pretty impressive list of amenities.

Contact:
787-220-4204 or 787-602-1672
2218 Calle General del Valle, Ocean Park, San Juan

7. San Juan International Hostel

One of only a handful of hostels on the island, the San Juan International Hostel offers a truly budget (like under $30 a night budget) option for those who don't mind communal living spaces. The cash-only hostel has three four-bed dormitories and two two-bed dormitories. It has a communal kitchen, indoor living room and large outdoor balcony area. A very good perk is free WIFI for guests.

Guests also get free linens and towels. Security lockers are available, but you'll need your own locks. Hot showers are available 24/7. And finally, fans are provided for each bed, but the hostel has no A/C as yet. The hostel is located on Calle America in the Santurce suburb of San Juan.

8. The Palace Hostel

Cute, funky decor and perks like a free breakfast make The Palace Hostel a popular choice with the backpacking crowd. It also helps that this is the only hostel in Puerto Rico to provide A/C. Other perks include 24-hour reception and security, airport transfers, cable TV, free Internet access, free parking, hot showers, a communal kitchen and laundry facilities including an on-site washing machine. Throw in linens, lockers, an outdoor terrace, and towels, and you've got quite a bargain.

The cash-only Palace is located on Calle Suau in Miramar, a short distance from Old San Juan.

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