Historic hotels in Santo Domingo
While there’s no shortage of sea and sand in the Caribbean, authentic history is harder to come by. A major exception is the city of Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. Often referred to as the “Oldest City of the New World,” Santo Domingo has a compact historic neighborhood with many buildings dating back to the 15th century. A handful of these can linked to Christopher Columbus and his crew. Travelers can immerse themselves in Santo Domingo’s days of yesteryear atmosphere by choosing to stay overnight in one of the city’s historic Colonial Zone hotels.
Casas del XVI
One of Christopher Columbus’ ship pilots, Alonso Perez Roldan, was an early resident of Casas del XVI, a 16th century mansion comprising three houses. Accommodations are spread throughout the houses — Casa de los Barcos has the property’s two-bedroom suite; Casa de Mapas has three rooms, an expansive courtyard and a small pool and Casa del Arbol has a smaller courtyard and four rooms featuring free-standing soaking tubs. All Casas del XVI guests receive the services of an unobtrusive butler, who can do everything from making dinner reservations at local eateries to delivering a gentle morning knock on your door as a wakeup call. Breakfast is included in the room rate and served al fresco. There are a number of choices, but guests should try the Dominican-style breakfast at least once during their stay, which includes eggs over easy, fried cheese, fried salami and mangú (cooked plantains with sautéed onions). Casas del XVI is a good choice for travelers desiring an extra measure of service.
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando originally housed Governor Nicolas de Ovando, the first governor of the Americas. It’s to be expected that the 500-year-old property is brimming over with history, but surprisingly it also manages to project a hip and sophisticated ambience. Santo Domingo’s twentysomethings are a common sight here, sipping cocktails around the pool as merengue plays in the background. The hotel has 104 rooms; those intent on enjoying a historic vibe should opt for one of the 45 colonial-style rooms. These have hacienda shutters, high ceilings and tile floors that transport a lodger back into the past. Don’t miss the hotel’s Cibao Bar, where guests can kick back with a variety of aged rums while lighting up a Dominican cigar hand-rolled by the hotel’s very own tabaquero (tobacconist). Hostal Nicolas de Ovando is recommended for those in search of a full-service, modern hotel with roots in the 16th century.
El Beaterio is an 11-room hotel in a 16th-century former convent. As one might expect, there’s a hushed, homey atmosphere at El Beaterio, which has been carefully restored over the years. There are plenty of historic details, including original stone walls and tile floors, as well as antique musical instruments adorning the walls. Don’t miss the rooftop terrace bar, which boasts great views looking out over the Colonial Zone and Parque Duarte. El Beaterio is a good match for those favoring an elegant and homey atmosphere at very reasonable rates.
Boutique Hotel Palacio
Jumping forward a few centuries brings us to the Boutique Hotel Palacio, a 19th century building that was the home of Ramon Baez, a former president of the Dominican Republic. The Boutique Hotel Palacio has a unique ambience — a blend of history and mystery that will please those who love a good gumshoe film. The four-story building has a cozy lobby bar, inviting inner courtyard and a rooftop pool. The Boutique Hotel Palacio makes a good choice for budget-minded travelers with a fondness for history and a dash of film noir drama.
All four of the above hotels are within blocks of each other in Santo Domingo’s Colonial Zone. Guests will find lots of pleasant surprises to discover on foot, including a multitude of restored buildings with period details, al fresco restaurants, parks brimming over with local color and lots of shops, especially along the pedestrianized Calle El Conde.
Category: DR Living |