The Best Hotels to Book in and Around San José, Costa Rica

Enjoy the views of San José and Costa Rica’s Central Valley from Hotel Alta Las Palomas
Enjoy the views of San José and Costa Rica’s Central Valley from Hotel Alta Las Palomas | Courtesy of Hotel Alta Las Palomas / Expedia
Sarah Holt

As Costa Rica’s capital, San José offers a long list of places to stay. Many travelers choose to stay by the airport for convenience or base themselves in the pedestrianized area near the National Theatre to be close to the city’s best sights. However, there’s also a great cohort of hotels on the outskirts that come with mountain views, flower-filled gardens and plush spas to boot. Here’s a collection of the best places to stay across San José, bookable on Culture Trip.

1. Hotel Grano de Oro

Suite Hotel

An airy dining room at Hotel Grano de Oro, with set tables, wicker chairs and lots of plants
Courtesy of Hotel Grano de Oro / Expedia

Just around the corner from the National Theatre, Hotel Grano de Oro is set inside a restored Victorian mansion. There’s a range of rooms and suites here including the lavish Vista de Oro Suite, with its wood-paneled walls, stained-glass lighting and sunken bath. After a day of sightseeing in the city, guests can unwind on the hotel’s jacuzzi terrace before sitting down to a meal in the fine-dining restaurant with its 2,000-bottle wine cellar.

2. Hotel Alta Las Palomas

Hotel

Hotel Alta Las Palomas
Courtesy of Hotel Alta Las Palomas / Expedia

The word alta means high in Spanish, and this hotel is set on a hilltop on the western edge of San José overlooking Costa Rica’s Central Valley. You can take in the view from the balconies of some of the rooms. The interior design of the hotel is inspired by the country’s coffee culture. There are photographs of cafetales (coffee farms) on the walls, and the furniture is made from upcycled farm equipment – like the armchairs fashioned from horse saddles.

3. Hotel Presidente

Hotel

A brick-lined terrace surrounded by greenery at Hotel Presidente, with people enjoying drinks at the white metal tables
Courtesy of Hotel Presidente / Expedia
The founding family of Hotel Presidente, near the National Theatre, decided on its name when Kennedys visited Costa Rica in the 1960s. The hotel’s decor has as much personality as the man it was named after: industrial features like girder beams share the space with antiques like vintage sewing machines. Be sure to spend some time on the rooftop cocktail terrace – try the citrus cocktails, they’re made with the hotel’s home-grown limes.

4. Posada El Quijote

Hotel

Posada El Quijote
Courtesy of Posada El Quijote / Expedia

This finca-style hotel crowns a hilltop in the Escazu suburb of San José, 3.5mi (5km) from the center. The grounds are a great place to unwind after a busy day of exploring the capital. There’s a roomy pool that looks out over the Central Valley and a flower garden that’s been designed to attract bees and hummingbirds. There’s no restaurant on site, but the hotel does offer a Costa Rican breakfast with eggs and gallo pinto (a rice and bean dish).

5. Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Curio Collection by Hilton

Hotel

Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Curio Collection by Hilton
Courtesy of Gran Hotel Costa Rica, Curio Collection by Hilton / Expedia

Across the road from the National Theatre, this grand hotel is set above an arcaded street of shops. The building dates back to the 1930s, but the interiors are contemporary. The location of the hotel puts all of San José’s top sights, bars and restaurants at your fingertips. However, it will tempt you to stay in with its intimate piano bar and a rooftop restaurant where the wraparound floor-to-ceiling windows serve up unforgettable views of the city.

6. El Rodeo Estancia Boutique Hotel and Steakhouse

Boutique Hotel

El Rodeo Estancia Boutique Hotel & Steakhouse
Courtesy of El Rodeo Estancia Boutique Hotel and Steakhouse / Expedia

This wood-paneled, chalet-style hotel is just 10 minutes from the airport. The grounds are one of the major draws here: they’re filled with fountain-dotted gardens and are home to a spacious swimming pool. The restaurant, with its vaulted wooden ceiling, is another big plus. The menu here revolves around meat, with the exception of a few vegetarian pasta dishes. If you’re here with a group, go for one of the huge steak and seafood platters.

7. Out of Bounds Hotel

Hotel

Out of Bounds Hotel
Courtesy of Out of Bounds Hotel / Expedia

Set on a hilltop half an hour’s drive west of the city center, Out of Bounds looks out over the skyline of San José and the mountains of the Central Valley beyond. Book a mountain view room and take in the view from a rocking chair on your wooden balcony. There’s no restaurant here, but guests are welcomed with a cup of hot Costa Rican coffee, and breakfast is provided in the mornings.

8. Xandari Resort and Spa

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel

A shaded outdoor dining area at Xandari Resort and Spa, with set tables and wicker chairs overlooking a lush landscape
Courtesy of Xandari Resort and Spa / Expedia

Greenery pools around Xandari Resort and Spa, an hour’s drive north from central San José. The hotel is set on a 40-acre (16ha) forest reserve with its own waterfalls, birdwatching spots and nature trails. The spa in the hotel’s name features five palm-roofed palapas with private hot tubs. Don’t miss a dip in the sunset pool; this infinity pool looks out over the Central Valley and – as the name suggests – it’s the perfect place to watch the sunset.

9. Parque del Lago Boutique Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Hotel

Parque del Lago
Courtesy of Parque del Lago / Expedia
This modern, business-style hotel is just across the road from La Sabana Metropolitan Park, aka Central Park, in downtown San José. It has everything you need for a good night’s sleep, including calming white-and-wood rooms and shower products titled “stress relief” with eucalyptus and spearmint scents. The cost of a room usually includes a buffet breakfast of continental options and Costa Rican dishes like gallo pinto.

If stepping outside the city appeals to you more, Costa Rica offers many unique places and hidden gems, including cloud forests – where you can now book to stay overnight via Culture Trip. For more sleeping options, see the best villas or holiday apartments throughout the country. Feeling foodie? Find out why Costa Rica is the ultimate food-lover’s destination. For a stylish stay in San José, check out our pick of the best boutique hotels in San José, Costa Rica, bookable on Culture Trip.

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