Dominican Republic: Hostal Nicolas de Ovando
Hostal Nicolas de Ovando, in Santo Domingo's historic district, is a paradise of brick breezeways and palm-lined courtyards. The hotel was once the governor's own palace; a stay here makes you feel like you're joining the Spanish colonial aristocracy.
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AddressCalle Las Damas Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 809/685-9955 accorhotels.com
Rum tastings and cigars at the Cibao Cigar Club; the breezeway pool table near the lobby.
- 104 rooms
- Outdoor pool
- 18-hole golf course
At check-in, I was handed a fresh fruit punch with a slice of pineapple and wandered around the courtyards before heading to my room. A lush palm garden grows within view of the pool, which has full bar service, and the largest courtyard ends in the hotel's restaurant. A smaller courtyard shades a fountain. The local rum is the bar's bright spot, and though you can order bar plates like Tostado Española, an open-faced sandwich piled with jamón Serrano and marinated tomatoes, you'll find better food at one of the restaurants that line the Plaza de la Hispanidad just steps from the hotel. Do stay for breakfast, where you'll find an over-the-top variety of morning eats, from omelets a la minute to tables of cured meats and cheeses and pastries.
In the room, I was greeted with an abundant tropical fruit platter: passion fruit with a tiny spoon to scoop out its astringent pulp, ripe mangos, pineapple, and grapes as big as avocado seeds. The rooms are furnished simply, which feels a little like staying in a museum diorama, but they are comfortable and offer views of the river. Though there is wireless internet, it's patchy at best.
The real appeal here is the hotel's location on the oldest street in the Americas, Calle Las Damas ("street of the ladies"), built in 1502 and named for the Spanish noblewomen, who strolled up and down the cobblestones for recreation. The hotel is just steps away from the oldest courthouse in the Americas, the oldest fort in the Americas, the oldest cathedral in the Americas…you get the idea. According to a local tour guide, even Christopher Columbus's remains are in Santo Domingo. Hostal Nicolas de Ovando is a Spanish colonial beauty, and is in an ideal spot for historical walking tours. — Katrina Moore
In the Area
- Pat'e Palo: The first tavern in the Americas, Pat'e Palo is named for a pirate who made Santo Domingo his home. Today, the restaurant serves international cuisine with a distinct local flair: think yuca and coconut on the same menu as fois gras and truffles. Calle Atarazana 25; tel: 809/687-8089; patepalo.com
- La Leyenda del Cigarro: A cigar factory and shop. Their cigars are smooth and delicious, and if you're lucky, you'll catch them while they're rolling and pressing them right in the shop. Calle Hostos 402; tel: 809/686-5489
- Boca Marina: This restaurant in Boca Chica, several miles outside of Santo Domingo, is located on a luxurious dock. Spend the afternoon sipping daiquiris and paddling in the Caribbean Sea, then order a smorgasbord of seafood: grilled lobster, spicy calamari, and Dominican sushi (which has a slice of sweet plantain on top). Boca Chica, Calle Duarte; 809/523-6702