The Best Holiday Apartments in Costa Rica

Escape to the rainforest in Costa Rica
Escape to the rainforest in Costa Rica | © Kathrin Ziegler / Getty Images
Photo of Alex Robinson
26 November 2020

Vacations in Costa Rica blend nature with creature comforts and light adventure with low-key luxury. Picture the morning mist rising off the butterfly-filled rainforest or having a late-afternoon cocktail on a sandy beach while watching the orange-tinted sunset. It’s an under-rated Eden of warm blue waters and fine self-catering accommodation. Here is our pick of the best apartments in Costa Rica.

The Gardens Hotel

Bed and Breakfast, Hotel
Map View
The Gardens Hotel
Courtesy of The Gardens Hotel / Expedia

Over the past decade, Nosara village, on the Nicoya Peninsula, has morphed from a sleepy-backpacker secret destination to a mini-resort town with restaurants and buzzy beach bars. In lush surrounds off the main drag, a 15-minute walk from curling waves, the Gardens Hotel is an old surfer favorite with a facelift. The good-value Garden Bungalows are simple white cubes with boxy bathrooms. Consider upgrading to the spacious Master Suite, decked out in honey-colored hardwood and featuring a large balcony over the pool.

Apartotel and Suites Villas del Río

Serviced Apartment, Hotel, Apartment
Map View
Apartotel & Suites Villas del Rio
Courtesy of Apartotel and Suites Villas del Río / Expedia

In the leafy Escazú neighborhood of Costa Rica’s capital, San José, Villas del Río is an urban gem that offers a restful’s night sleep. The suites (some large enough for families) feature tropical colors and herringbone-parquet floors and open onto gardenia-scented woodland. Amenities include a pool, a gym and business services. Shopping centers and restaurants are nearby, and the Juan Santamaría International Airport is a 15-minute ride via the hotel shuttle.

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Xandari Resort and Spa

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel
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Xandari Resort And Spa
Courtesy of Xandari Resort and Spa / Expedia

At just under a 30-minute drive from the Juan Santamaría International Airport, the Xandari Resort and Spa, which sits among a former coffee plantation, is a good choice for a first or final night in the country. No matter which villa you stay in, the views are incredible. However, the Ultra Villas are especially popular, with floor-to-ceiling windows that provide vistas of the twinkling lights of San José and the rippling Cerro de Escazú mountain range. Resort activities include bird-watching and hiking through the hotel’s extensive forest gardens to waterfalls and rushing mountain streams.

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Las Cascadas the Falls

Boutique Hotel, Hotel
Map View
Las Cascadas The Falls Condotel
Courtesy of Las Cascadas the Falls / Expedia

A short drive from the busy Pacific coast resort town of Quepos, Las Cascadas the Falls feels like it’s in the heart of the wild. Macaws cackle, capuchin monkeys cavort in the trees beyond your balcony, and butterflies flutter past the pool. There’s a wide range of rooms – from intimate casitas for two to large family suites – but among the favorites are the good-value Nest Suites. This accommodation option will take your breath away twice: once as you walk up the jungle path from reception and again when, from your bed, you catch a glimpse of Palo Seco Beach through the lush trees.

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Hotel La Dolce Vita

Hotel
Map View
Hotel La Dolce Vita
Courtesy of Hotel La Dolce Vita / Expedia

What it lacks in luxury, the low-key Hotel La Dolce Vita makes up for in location and value. The simple apartments – with little more than a bed, wardrobe and kitchenette – sit around a small pool on the palm-shaded coral sands of Esterillos Oeste. Each apartment costs less than a night in a British B&B, and the hotel offers a wealth of activities, from surf classes and horseback riding to kayaking and reef snorkeling.

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  • Ocho Artisan Bungalows

    Hotel, Cabin, Villa
    Map View
    Ocho Artisan Bungalows
    Courtesy of Ocho Artisan Bungalows / Expedia

    In the resort village of Tamarindo on the Pacific coast, Ocho Artisan Bungalows is so close to the waves that you can taste the salty spray when relaxing on your hammock-slung balconies. The decor is surfer chic, with palm-thatch roofs, lush hardwoods and wispy cotton drapes billowing in the ocean breeze. The ensuites, in raw stone and distressed bamboo, have indoor-outdoor showers. Enjoy an icy mojito at the beach cocktail bar while admiring the stars above.

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    Cocomar Beachfront Hotel

    Hotel
    Map View
    Cocomar Beachfront Hotel and Island Resort
    Courtesy of Cocomar Beachfront Hotel / Expedia

    With beachfront suites big enough for a large group, a kids’ menu, a large paddling area in the pool and gentle wildlife tours in nearby Manuel Antonio National Park, Cocomar is a favorite with families. There are no palm-thatch roofs or open-air showers here; its rooms are for nature lovers who prefer the wild to stay resolutely outdoors, albeit on the doorstep. The Palo Seco turtle-nesting beach is just a few paces away.

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    Hotel Plaza Yara

    Hotel
    Map View
    Hotel Plaza Yara
    Courtesy of Hotel Plaza Yara / Expedia

    Sloths idling in the garden, toucans chattering in the trees outside your balcony, athletic squirrel monkeys swinging past the pool deck at breakfast – Hotel Plaza Yara is so close to the wildlife-filled Manuel Antonio National Park that you’ll feel as if you’re actually within the forest. With custom-made furniture, the spacious suites feel functional rather than luxurious, but they’re comfortable and budget-friendly. What’s more, under-12s stay free, and with the jungle surrounds as well as the beach a mere 10 minutes away, you won’t be spending much time indoors.

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    These recommendations were updated on November 26, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.