Staying in San José
Costa Rica's capital is abuzz with all the kinetic energy of a modern metropolis. The city will pull you in a hundred different directions, each promising fun and adventure. That's why during your visit you're going to need a solid, comfy lodging option. You can find good four-star hotel options anywhere in town, but we recommend eschewing the larger chains in favor of the more personalized service and intimate surroundings of the boutique options. There are many to choose from, too, from hideaways in the city center to small resorts just outside of town. We've narrowed down the list for your convenience.
For more insider advice on how to navigate this town, see our Tips for Visiting San José.
Asclepios Wellness & Healing Retreat
Many visitors come to Costa Rica on wellness and spirituality excursions. You can find a number of health lodges and yoga retreats throughout the country, particularly on the Pacific coast. But you don't have to wait until you get out of the capital to rejuvenate mind, body, and soul. You can simply make the 20-minute jaunt north of San José's Juan Santamaría International Airport, on the outskirts of the Alajuela neighborhood, to Asclepios.
The 12 rooms in this boutique hotel are tastefully done in bridal white with brick floors, canopy beds, and claw bathtubs in the washroom. The grounds are impeccably maintained and the 20,000-square-foot property looks out over a sprawling organic farm (which also supplies their restaurant). Asclepios offers an abundance of wellness and spa services, including a yoga center, meditation pavilion, sauna, holistic practitioners, as well as naturopathy, detoxification, and revitalization programs.
Alajuela Province, Tambor, San José, Costa Rica
Boutique Hotel Jade
The two-story, four-star Boutique Hotel Jade is in the perfect central location, walking distance from the major museums in the city including the National Museum and the Jade Museum. The hotel's architecture is striking—it might best be described as "tropical mid-century modern." The property is centered around a shimmering pool made all the more inviting by the wooden bridge arching over it. The 29 guestrooms are functional and provide all the amenities you'd expect, like flatscreen TVs and minibars. Be sure to enjoy a gourmet French meal at Jürgen's the hotel's restaurant. The wine list here is respectable, with over 100 bottles on hand.
Barrio Dent, Los Yoses, San Pedro, San José, Costa Rica
Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation
Costa Rica has become a fixture on the global coffee trail. More and more, adherents of the "third wave" movement are discovering the high quality of Costa Rican beans. Many say their deliciousness derives from the volcanic soil in which the plants grow. You can discover the secrets yourself when you stay at Finca Rosa Blanca, a hideaway plantation and organic coffee farm situated on 40 acres in the highlands just above San José.
There's nothing not to love about Finca Rosa Blanca. The white-washed main building is part Santorini villa, part Latin American hacienda. Within, there are 14 luxurious rooms that accommodate between 2-5 people depending on the class of accommodation. Modern conveniences abound, and the master suites feature grotto-like rock tubs. But guests really come here for the high-quality arabica coffee sustainably grown on site—you can tour the coffee farm with the help of a bilingual guide. Last but not least, birders will get a kick out of the 130 species found fluttering around the surrounding forest.
Tierra Blanca, Heredia, Santa Bárbara, San José, Costa Rica
Hotel Grano De Oro
It's time to splurge. The four-star Grano De Oro, walking distance from La Sabana Park in central San José, exudes class and luxury. The standard rooms feature elegant hardwoods floors, comfy queen beds, and marble countertops in the bathrooms. The signature suite is done up in elegant Tudor decór to the point you can smell the mahogany and oiled leather. The hotel's eponymous restaurant is one of the best in the city. The French-Mediterranean menu features gourmet standards, with the beef and fresh fish best paired with one of the restaurant's 2,000 bottles of wine. To maximize the ambiance, be sure to dine in the central courtyard where you'll be surrounded by tropical plants fronting stained glass windows.
Calle 30, Av 2, San José Province, San José, Costa Rica
For a convenient option located in the heart of the city, you won't do better than the Presidente. The hotel is an art installation unto itself—the building's exterior is coated in a pop-art milieu. It may be larger than your typical boutique hotel (there are 91 rooms over eight floors), but the rooms are uncommonly large for a city hotel. The giant, comfy beds are nothing to sneeze at either—especially the king-size beds in the superior rooms. The hotel is pet-friendly, there's a gym, and guests can enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast.
Avenida Central, 7th Street, San José, 1000, Costa Rica
Palma Real Hotel & Casino
Located just north of La Sabana Park, the Palma Real Hotel & Casino is a colorful geometric oddity. It was redone in 2010 and not only sports an angular exterior, but it boasts a fully equipped business center, gym, and a restaurant. The central location is nice, but the rooms are the real star—they rival the aforementioned Presidente in terms of spaciousness. Each has a minibar, safe, and breakfast is included. The hotel does offer a swimming pool, but it's located five minutes away. One bonus is that the Palma Real promotes sustainability through its practices as well as by working with non-profit organizations to promote conservationism and social welfare.
Sabana Norte, San José, Costa Rica
The four-star Studio Hotel is tastefully modern and artistic, featuring many colorful works from international artists as well as famous Ticos (local Costa Ricans) like Rafa Fernandez Isidro Wong. The rooms are so impeccably designed and modern that it looks like they were just constructed yesterday. The best part is that even the standard rooms are equipped with king-sized beds.
Regarding other features, their 150-seat Studio Café Bar and Grill is a moody gem that specializes in seafood and offers a varied list of wines. Be sure to pay a visit to the rooftop pool with covered canopy—you'll feel like you're in Hollywood. The downside is the hotel is located in the Santa Ana neighborhood, about seven miles east of the city center. The benefit of this, though, is that it's only 10 minutes from the airport. That makes it a good base of operations for anyone planning on flying around the country.
Santa Ana, San José, Costa Rica