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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.