Spacious Old-World Rooms in the Heart of Colonial Santo Domingo
Before its conversion to a hotel, the colonial estate at 106 Calle Duarte passed through hands of two Dominican presidents, Buenaventura Baez and his son Ramón. Today, the Hotel Palacio wears her age proudly, thanks in part to a makeover in the early 1990s that restored the guest quarters to their former elegance.
From the outside, Hotel Palacio looks as if it we’re frozen in time. Ornate sconces and original iron balconies extend from the 17th-century building’s stucco façade. Brick archways lead into a palm-fronded interior courtyard, which puts out a café vibe with its wooden folding chairs and patio umbrellas. In each of the eight superior rooms rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows let in light from the courtyard or streets below. Wrought-iron chandeliers, red tiled floors, and alarm clocks that shake like maracas hark back to the Spain of old.
In the morning, a hot, full breakfast buffet perks up sleepy-eyed travelers. As the day wears on, Hotel Palacio’s multilevel outdoor pool sparkles beneath the Caribbean sun and offers a cool respite from the day’s heat.
Santo Domingo: Oldest City in the New World
The Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, is a city of firsts. It was the first city in the Americas, founded in 1498 by Bartholomew Columbus, the lesser-known and larger-pantalooned brother of Christopher Columbus. It holds the first castle, the first monastery, the first paved street, and the first fortress in the New World. Two blocks from Hotel Palacio, the first church, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, stands in the heart of the Colonial Zone.
Within walking distance of the hotel, there are scores of Caribbean restaurants that serve fresh seafood and the Dominican Republic’s national dish, a zesty stew called sancocho. Though Santo Domingo’s nightspots fall in line with a moderate curfew, the bars and dance floors around the capital come alive with merengue beats.