Checking In: El Blok on Vieques Island
When the opportunity arose to travel to Vieques Island in Puerto Rico and to stay at El Blok Hotel, I could hardly contain my excitement for two reasons. Firstly, Vieques Island is known for its stunning beaches and turquoise Caribbean waters – my personal definition of heaven.
SECONDLY, you will know from my stay at Papaya Playa Project in Tulum, Mexico that I love luxury boutique hotels. They don't stick out like a sore thumb in their environment. Instead, they are true to the place they are located and in that authenticity, encourage exploration beyond the hotel premises and make you fall in love with the culture of the place you're staying in. Plus, you get the same 5-star treatment that you would in a larger luxury resort.
Located on Vieques Island on the East coast of Puerto Rico, El Blok Hotel is the perfect example of this.
The design of El Blok is totally unlike any hotel I have stayed in previously. El Blok sums it up better than I ever could:
“Designed by award winning architecto, Natanial Fuster, and inspired by the coral reefs that surround Vieques, patterns of natural light and fresh air play and dance across the space and conjure up ethereal feelings of being under water and in the atmosphere all at once. The lack of hard angles and straight lines evoke a soft, feminine feel while the reinforced concrete and perforated panels provide protection and seclusion against the outside world. El Blok is separate from and very much a part of its immediate surroundings all at once.”
The first floor houses the lobby, check-in, bar and restaurant – all open air, of course. The second and third floors are for the guest rooms and the fourth floor is the rooftop bar.
A hole runs through the hotel, connecting the rooftop to the lobby. This open-air atmosphere means that from the second you walk outside your room in the morning, you are greeted by relaxing Puerto Rican music drifting up from the lobby and when it rains, you hear the melodic pattering of rain pouring through the center of the hotel and watering the plants in the lobby below.
The rooftop is gorgeous and has a design consistent with the rest of El Blok. There are comfortable lounge chairs, a small pool, a bar and views – incredible views. Make sure to come to the rooftop for sunset. Order an Isla Nena cocktail or a Mint Mojito, enjoy upbeat Puerto Rican music and watch as the sun sets against a turquoise Caribbean Sea.
I stayed in El Blok's Esquina room and can't express how much I adored it. It was clean, white and spacious with pops of color and plenty of sunlight streaming in from the two walls of windows.
One of the best things about the Esquina Room was its patio. The unique holes in the wall let light pour in and the two balconies provide the perfect view of the beach & the Caribbean waters. I enjoyed every morning out on this patio, soaking up the sunshine and catching up on emails before venturing out onto the island.
Led by Chef Carlos Perez, El Blok's restaurant uses fresh, locally sourced ingredients to cook delicious Contemporary Puerto Rican food. It is hands down one of the best restaurants on the island, so whether you are staying at El Blok or not, you need to make time to eat here!
For dinner, I recommend the Conchas ( Local Conch, Pickled Onion, Red Peppers & Coca Arepas ) and the Blok Strip ( Woodfired 10 oz beef, Cheese Aligot & Roasted Achiote Cauliflower ). For dessert,
try devour the Guava Bread Pudding.
Breakfast at El Blok was just as wonderful of an experience. There is simply nothing better than a plate of fresh fruit, a cup of strong coffee and a subtle balmy breeze to ensure your day begins on a great note.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the best things about El Blok is its location in the heart of Esperanza.
Turn right out of El Blok and walk down El Malecon. It's a long stretch of road, complete with gorgeous ocean views and full of small shops, restaurants and bars. It's also the area where most tours ( bio bay, horsebackriding, etc. ) leave from. Or walk straight out of El Blok and turn left onto the beach. Enjoy about half a mile of pristine white sand leading up to a sandbar, where turquoise water surrounds you on both sides.
And that's just what is immediately outside of El Blok. The rest of the island is also a waking dream – full of secret beaches, wild horses and spectacular views.
Soooo … Have I convinced you to book that flight to Vieques? 😉 Do you love luxury boutique hotels as much as I do? Tell me below!
If you're headed to Vieques Island, you might need:
( Disclaimer: I was a guest of El Blok Hotel, but as always, all opinions are my own. )
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