CasaBlanca Hotel: Moroccan Charm in Old San Juan

Puerto Rico is filled with old-world charm. Old San Juan is particularly picturesque. Much of this is thanks to its beautifully restored Spanish colonial buildings painted in pastel hues. But in the heart of the historic district is a funky art-filled boutique hotel that looks like it belongs in Marrakesh instead of on a Caribbean Island. The CasaBlanca Hotel is located on the popular Calle de la Fortaleza. It is just minutes from the San Juan cruise terminal to the south and the Castillo San Cristóbal fort to the north.

Eclectic sitting area with colorful furnishings and contemporary art

Here’s Looking at You, Kid

From the street, CasaBlanca’s cream-colored façade and white breeze block balconies blend in with the rest of the buildings. But step inside, and you’re transported to a different world — one of color, pattern and accents from different destinations and time periods.

Black-and-white checkered floors, mosque-style gray-and-white columns and red accents dominate. They’re combined with massive gold-and-crystal chandeliers, gold-trimmed furnishings, bold textiles in floral and animal prints, and Victorian-style light fixtures. The focal point of the room is an expansive curved wood check-in counter. It showcases intricately carved gold panels punctuated with red and blue. And brightly colored contemporary art decorates the walls.

It’s pure visual chaos that works.

Past the lobby is a lounge where the hotel’s namesake movie plays on continuous loop. Above the row of TVs is an eye-catching checkerboard of niches. Each one holds a single piece of pottery that’s illuminated by a small spotlight. A large stained-glass Moroccan lamp hangs above the setting. And, as you make your way to the elevator, you pass through a small cafe that serves breakfast, a light lunch, coffee, and wine and cocktails.

 

An elaborate Moroccan-style wood check-in counter in CasaBlanca Hotel lobby with chandelier and tile flooring

Staying at CasaBlanca Hotel

The CasaBlanca has 32 rooms, with something to meet every traveler’s needs. There are the standard King, Queen and Double Queen rooms. The Superior Suite includes two bedrooms and is ideal for families with kids. Then there’s the Junior Suite, which is what I stayed in. Sadly, I didn’t realize that the room was an interior room with no outside windows until I checked in. But since I was spending just one night at the hotel, I wasn’t too upset.

Despite not having exterior windows, the room was spacious and comfortable. The Junior Suite is divided into two separate rooms. The bedroom also includes a desk, mini fridge, dresser and TV. The sitting room features pull-out sectional sofa. A horseshoe arch, a typical element of Moorish architecture, separates the two spaces. And the bathroom is situated off the sitting room. 

Overall, the room is simple in its design. The bed is firm and topped with crisp white linens. A tan-colored bed runner and pillow are decorated with a blue Islamic star design. And the wall colors are neutral, with no colorful artwork. In addition, a decorative mosquito net and crystal chandelier add a small touch of elegance.

bedroom with queen bed netting and chandelierMoroccan-style arch separates bedroom from sitting area with sectional sofa

Amenities and Location

While you’re at CasaBlanca, make sure to explore the property, as it offers a variety of hidden spaces. For example, tucked away on the various floors are intimate seating areas filled with antique furnishings and Moroccan details. 

For spectacular views of Old San Juan, head to the rooftop terrace. Here, you’ll also find places to relax day and night. Separated by the elevator bulkhead are two luxurious turf-covered lounge destinations. One features lounge chairs, cabanas and hot tubs. And the other has four stone bathtubs.

The hotel also has a ballroom. And there’s a small business center located off the lobby. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the hotel.

Of course, you won’t want to just look at Old San Juan from the roof. That’s because CasaBlanca Hotel is ideally located for exploring the city. The surrounding blocks are filled with dozens of restaurants, coffee shops and souvenir stores. And a CVS and Walgreens are both about three blocks away in case you forgot any toiletries or want to pick up water or soda for your room. The Catedral Basilica Menor de San Juan Bautista is an 8-minute walk from the hotel. Fun fact: Explorer Ponce de Leon is buried here. In addition, the famed Castillo San Felipe del Morro is a 20-minute walk away. Furthermore, a taxi ride to the airport takes about 30 minutes.

Rooftop sitting area with turf and colorful chairs

Of course, if you’re looking for a modern five-star accommodation, CasaBlanca Hotel isn’t for you. The luxurious Hotel El Convento, for example, offers a more upscale stay. But if you want something fun and funky — and something in a prime location — then you should consider this moderately priced boutique hotel. I guarantee, you won’t find anything else like it in Puerto Rico.

Rates at CasaBlanca Hotel start at about $130/night. You can also check rates on Booking.com or Expedia to see if you can get a better deal.

 

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