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Where to Stay in San Salvador
San Salvador is a massive city, but in many of its neighborhoods, crime remains a significant obstacle to the tourist trade. Only the most centrally located districts of San Salvador are safe and appealing on a broad enough scale to support a variety of hotels, but fortunately, these districts also contain the city’s best attractions and points of interest.
The neighborhood on the east side of San Salvador’s core may be called Downtown, Centro or even Old Town, and its sparsely scattered hotels are mostly independently owned or part of Central American lodging chains. The majority of the city’s historic sites, as well as several cheap hotel deals in San Salvador, can be found in this area.
On the west side of the city core are the two smaller neighboring districts of Escalon and San Benito. These neighborhoods are more modern and have several of San Salvador’s finer hotels, including those belonging to international luxury chains. Attractions here include few historic sites but a great variety of shops, museums, restaurants and nightlife districts.
San Salvador Hotel Tips
The average quality of accommodations in San Salvador is much better than in other parts of El Salvador or even Central America in general. The city’s best hotels, many located in San Benito, are on par with luxury properties in most other major cities around the world. Their nightly rates, on the other hand, tend to be much lower, so you may want to give a little extra consideration to splurging on your room.
Chain hotels account for many of the mid-range options, and while these are generally clean, comfortable and good values, many lack the character that would distinguish them from comparable hotels in the U.S. If you want to spend less and find a night’s stay that feels distinctively El Salvadorian, look to the small, independent inns near the city’s center. You’re likely to find some of the most affordable rates in town, as well as more charming and memorable rooms.
San Salvador Hotel Recommendations
Two of the most comfortable hotels in San Salvador, the Hilton Princess and the Sheraton Presidente, are located not far from one another on the city’s ritzy west side. The Hilton’s style is regal and elegant, with a fine dining restaurant, a cozy bar and a modern fitness center among the amenities. The Sheraton, comparable in price and features, has one of the city’s largest outdoor swimming pools and select suites with kitchenettes. Though these hotels are among the city’s more expensive properties, this level of luxury is much more affordable in San Salvador than in the U.S.
Another impressive and modern hotel in the area is the Suites Las Palmas, where common areas like the restaurant, bar, swimming pool, hot tub and fitness center are located in the upper floors overlooking Downtown San Salvador. The upper-floor guest rooms, many of which have balconies and full kitchens, share these great views of the city.
If you’re looking for a great rate, small independent hotels like the Hostal Plaza Antigua or Hostal Lonigo in Escalon offer some of the best deals in town.
San Salvador Transportation
Driving in San Salvador can be hectic and difficult, so if you’re not up for a real challenge, you may want to avoid renting a car after your flight to San Salvador. Instead, consider relying on the city’s huge fleet of taxis to get around. Fares are generally cheap, though many taxis are unmetered and it is customary to agree upon a predetermined fare before driving off. Cabs are easy to hail on the street in the Downtown, Escalon and San Benito neighborhoods, and most hotels, restaurants and nightclubs will be happy to call one for you otherwise. If you do decide to drive on your own, several international rental car agencies have lots and kiosks at the airport.
Buses are cheap and connect virtually all areas of interest to tourists. Hotel front desks and tourist information centers are the easiest places to find the most up-to-date route, schedule and fare information.
Downtown, Escalon and San Benito are all pedestrian-friendly by themselves, but you’ll need four-wheeled transportation to efficiently get from one district to another. For reasons of safety, it’s a smart policy to always take cabs when traveling around at night.