REVIEW Meliá Hotel
Meliá Hotel is an iconic landmark hotel located in the historical center of Ponce. This elegant hotel offers a range of suites and all the facilities you would expect from such a centrally located grand historical hotel.
Overall Rating- 3.5 out of 5
The Hotel Meliá in Ponce is the oldest continuously operated hotel in Puerto Rico. Founded by Don Bartolo Meliá, who came to Ponce from Mallorca, Spain around 1890 to attend business with the Spaniards, he liked Ponce so much he stayed. Establishing a residence and grocery store, El Colmado Meliá. The residence grew to include a restaurant on the second floor and a bakery in the colmado. Importing goods from Europe he was renowned as being the finest grocer in Puerto Rico as well as producing the best Spanish pastries.
In 1895 The Hotel Meliá was born, leasing the property next to his own he built a nine room hotel. Around 1900 Don Bartolo purchased the property where the hotel stands today and started construction on a 21 room hotel. By 1915 construction was finished and the doors opened on what was considered the finest hotel in Puerto Rico. Maintaining its excellent reputation through it’s restaurant, bakery, modern facilities and fine service, the Hotel Meliá catered to the most distinguished families and government officials.
In 1940 another 26 rooms were added and in 1960 a further 26 rooms. Built in three stages, by three architects in three different eras. From the original construction and continuing through all three expansions, the finest architects and designers were used, each addition of rooms representing the finest styles of the time. This is still indicative in the rooms today, suites are offered by era and architect, you may choose from the 1915, 1940 or 1960 suites, all maintained as close to their original design and era as possible in modern day hospitality.
This iconic landmark is considered an architectural jewel of Puerto Rico and a museum in itself for its intrinsic beauty.
The Hotel Meliá is situated right on the central plaza of the historical district so you might expect access and or parking to be difficult (as is with many wonderful hotels in built up historical areas). Gladly, this was not the case, if you are driving yourself, other than having to navigate a few one way streets Meliá is easy to find and has easy parking out the front when you arrive. Reception will then direct you a few yards down the road to a private, secure parking area behind the hotel available for guests with easy access to the lobby. We found this to be a real bonus in an area such as this.
Check in was a breeze and the staff very friendly and helpful. The beautiful lobby space, albeit not large by the standards you would expect of a grand hotel still exudes the grandeur, charm and grace of the fine establishment that was opened in 1915.
The service was very friendly and helpful. Occasionally the staff were not entirely sure or fumbled a little, but were very apologetic in those situations and went out of their way to find the answers and to assist. We found all the staff at Meliá to be very courteous, friendly, helpful and really quite endearing.
Remembering this hotel was built in 3 stages, over 3 different eras by 3 different architects, each wing has its own characteristics. We had a room towards the back of the building in the 1940’s suites, these had both good and not so good qualities. While some of the 1915 suites have balconies overlooking the original frontage on Calle Cristina and the 1960’s suites have balconies overlooking the plaza, people complain about the noise, especially on a weekend. Obviously, all of the suites come in varying sizes, regardless of what wing you are in, but we did find the 1940’s queen size suites overlooking the central courtyard to be quite small. Is this indicative of the era? perhaps. Regardless, the room was away from any potential street noise, had a more than ample walk in wardrobe for luggage and a very large bathroom, with a bath! So this made up for the lack of actual bedroom space.
There was no mini bar or refrigerator in the room, but there was an ice bucket with instructions you could obtain ice at any time on the first floor. We found this quite charming. The rooms are air conditioned and the bed and bedding very comfortable. The rooms were impeccably clean, and while some of the facilities in the room we stayed in were not entirely modern, the TV was a little old and there was no fridge, everything was well maintained and presented.
The rooms were impeccably clean, and while some of the facilities in the room we stayed in were not entirely modern, the TV was a little old and there was no fridge, everything was well maintained and presented.
Restaurants – The hotel has two restaurants, Mocha in the courtyard, a cafe style restaurant which is open for breakfast and throughout the day and the Panorama Sky Lounge Restaurant and Bar on the roof.
We had dinner at the Panorama on the roof on the first night and were pleasantly surprised. Often hotel fare is not always the best option but this is not the case here. Our meals were of a very high standard, great wine and very reasonably priced. The menu is a tribute to cuisines of the world, offering meals inspired by a selection of cultures. We opted for the Greek inspired lamb cutlets and the Fillet Mignon. Both were excellent and for around $18 each, well priced. Over the weekend, they have live music and seem to also attract a local crowd.
The Mocha cafe serves great breakfasts and pretty good coffee.
There is a lovely pool at the end of the central courtyard and the parking as mentioned was a godsend. There is a lift in the building, but it is the original lift installed in the 1940 expansion. It is a maximum 2 person lift and does have an unnerving jolt when your floor is reached, but what do you expect of 1940 lift technology? There is a notice outside the lift explaining its history and proclaiming, as with the hotel, it is the oldest lift still in service in Puerto Rico. We found this charming, you may wish to take the stairs.
The location is fantastic. As mentioned, there is no issue with parking and you are within walking distance of nearly all of the major attractions of Ponce’s historic center. There are around four different museums within walking distance.
Would We Stay Here Again
Yes! While perhaps the hotel does not live up to the glossy website (yes it has some quirks of its past), it is very much true to its heritage. We found this hotel to be extremely comfortable, well located and a well preserved look into the architectural history of Puerto Rico. A very charming hotel.
We booked a 2 night deal that included the 2 nights accommodation, breakfast, some meal and drink coupons and entry to 7 museums and attractions in the area. On arrival, we were only presented with passes for 2 of those attractions. When we queried the remaining passes we were told that while one of the attractions was closed for the month the others were free entry attractions. Whilst we were not too put out we did feel advertising access passes to free entry attractions was possibly a little misleading in a package deal.
Price – Rooms range from $95 – $175 USD / night. They also offer various 2 night specials which include additional local activities as we mentioned above. Breakfast at Mocha is included in all rates as is parking.
We would recommend this hotel without hesitation. It was good value and well located. Its historic charm does bring some quirks, so is perhaps not perfect in the sense of a grand hotel but this is what makes the Meliá a special and unique stay.