48 Hours at the Casas XVI, Santo Domingo
When in the Dominican Republic, there is no way to miss the oldest city in America and the capital of the island: Santo Domingo. I am a travel lover and I can't hide my excitement for surprises when it comes to hotels. Sometimes I have no expectations, sometimes they are incredibly high (especially when hotels charge a high rate). With some average expectations of a city hotel for 300 USD a night, we arrived in the real heart of Santo Domingo. Well, you don't have much choice when travelling to the Dominican Republic: you are either stuck with a rental car or a private driver. If you are lucky, go for the latter one since driving into Santo Domingo is not the best place to show off your amazing driving skills - driving in Milan or Rome might be easier. Thanks to our non-working GPS system and the fact that there was no hotel-style entrance, we missed the hotel at first instance. A drive around the corner made us more familiar and soon we were sure: Number 352 must have been the right place, still no sliding door or anyone outside to welcome us. The only visible thing was a sign of Small Luxury Hotels and the name of the hotel in addition to a bell. I love unique places - and this one seemed to be exactly what I needed after all recent Caribbean resorts. After ringing the bell the door wad opened and we were welcomed by the last name (I guess we must have been the only check-in) and offered a seat in the wonderful living room.
One of the essential key factors to identify an amazing hotel is to see how they do the check-in. Do they just throw a paper in front of you and let you do the work or do they care and you won't have to do anything? When the concierge took a seat next to us, our personal butler arrived and handed us over a refreshing towel along with an amazing welcome drink. All paperwork has been done by the concierge, plus he asked us quite a lot of questions about our intentions during our stay so they could coordinate our private driver, breakfast, maid service as well as the in-house dinner we pre-arranged. The only thing I did was signing the paper which was very much appreciated, plus following our butler to our room, number... - wait, there was not even a room number! Well at Casas XVI they prefer to identity guests by their names rather than their room number which is another great plus.
Having talked too much about the details, let's focus on the hardware: our room was a Luxury room which is more spacious than the Superior rooms and facing the street and the courtyard rather than just the courtyard. There is one important fact to remember: Casas del XVI is a collection of extremely pretty townhouses situated in a posh area in old Santo Domingo so you can actually be staying in one of the two other houses as well - which all look amazing but very different. For my personal taste, our room was the most beautiful one: not just because of the four-poster bed and the chic daybed, also due to the amazingly huge bathroom with spacious walk-in shower and free standing tub. The coolest details were the big Bose docking station that worked with Bluetooth and the toiletries by Antica Farmacista - which fitted perfectly to this kind of boutique hotel. There is no such thing as a minibar, telephone, room service menu or directory - however you get an iPhone 5s with the number of the Concierge desk and your butler which in our case was the outstanding and dedicating Joshua! He actually replaced all these stuff in a great way.
When it was ready for dinner, we decided to head towards El Mason de Cave (one of the city's poshest places and a must-see when here for the first time), we were introduced to our driver who took us to the restaurant and waited there until we finished dinner. It is actually the best way to leave the hotel since we were not familiar with the city and it's not the safest place neither. At 70 USD for three hours of private chauffeur, we found it to be a fair deal and I have to admit it was great not to be worried about our safety. The next day we opened our room door and were welcomed by an extremely pretty breakfast table in the courtyard prepared by Joshua. While all the other things were extremely great too, breakfast was the absolute highlight for me with the best juice I've ever had (strawberry, mango, watermelon and all my other favorite fruits), amazing scrambled eggs, outrageous homemade mango jam plus great pancakes with nutella filling and fresh bananas. While this would be a breakfast worth the Parisian prices, it's included in the room rate!
On our last evening, Joshua prepared a special dinner in the courtyard for us serving deconstructed caprese salad, white risotto and a gorgeous black angnus fillet. The entire dinner was truly wonderful thanks to the nice music and the gorgeous atmosphere. After our last night we had one last breakfast under the mango trees before we proceeded with the check-out. The general manager himself was coming to say goodbye and as soon as our car was parked and packed, we left the old town of Santo Domingo for or drive to Punta Cana!
We were guests of Casas del XVI, however all above written expresses our own opinion and has not been influenced.