I've never been to Santo Domingo and I'm a little overwhelmed by all the hotel options. I'd like to stay in a hotel that is central and gives me good sense of what Santo Domingo is like. I'd love to know where locals tell their friends to stay when they visit, and why those areas and hotels are special. thanks!
Well, the Zona Colonial is lovely, especially in the evening time. My husband and I stayed at the Hotel Villa Colonial in this neighborhood and really enjoyed it. If you make it there and speak a little Spanish do not miss Casa de Teatro or some other theater venues on weekends to get a feel of the local culture. I've heard the JW Marriott is something to try on the fancy side.
Well if you want to have a modern city experience i recommend hotels near to the Malecon (George Washington St) (you can see the sea from there; and the central polygon (Lincoln St. / Churchill St)… But Zona Colonial is the most cultural place and have a lot of budget's options! There is a lot of museum in this area and the MAM is close to this area and now they have the Visual Arts Biennale.