I am often asked what hotel or lodge is the best in San Jose or the Central Valley of Costa Rica? Why am I asked this question so often? Because, if you are flying into and out of the San Jose Airport, chances are you are going to have to spend a night or 2 in the capital and there are plenty of options out there to choose from.
The best hotels in San Jose and the Central Valley of Costa Rica range from boutique places in great locations and large hotels in beautiful settings to small hotels that are destinations in and of themselves.
The 8 Best Places to Stay in and near San Jose, Costa Rica
There is a lot to learn about these places in San Jose and the Central of Costa Rica, and I am really excited to discuss some of the coolest ones I have seen.
1. Villa Blanca Hotel Spa & Nature Reserve
Villas Blancas Los Angeles Cloud Forest Hotel is located just one hour from San Jose International Airport and this hotel is a perfect destination for those eco-conscious travelers as well as for those looking to get a true cloud forest experience.
In a nut shell, the hotel sites on 75 acres and is surrounded by the spectacular Los Angeles Private Biological Reserve and is almost constantly fog covered due to being in the higher altitude part of the rainforest.
On the main hilltop is the Hacienda House, the centerpiece of the hotel. Here you can get fresh baked organic breads and pastries at El Cafe del Bosque.
You can also play a game of chess or billiards in El Mirador de Los Angeles Salon. Also you can dine on authentic Costa Rica cuisine at the restaurant El Sendero while looking at just some unforgettable views.The whole place seems filled with wildlife.
Each private casita has a unique open beam ceiling with comfortable and clean cabins that also come with fireplaces. I think it probably one of the best hotels if what you are looking for is to relax and get in touch with Nature.
2. Marriott Hotel San Jose
The Marriott Hotel is my only chain recommendation and that is due in part that it doesn’t look like typical chain hotel. It looks like a Colonial Hacienda and is in the middle of a 30-acre coffee plantation.
The hotel is an old villa that has been converted to a hotel. The idea they were trying to create here, I think, is to have to you feel like you are back in the colonial days of Costa Rica.
The hotel is large by Costa Rica standards and is located just outside the center of San Jose which is nice since you can get away from the hectic pace of the city, especially if you decide to spend downtown.
The hotel has 248 rooms including six suites and one presidential suite. They come with all the amenities that you would expect from a Marriott, such as a mini-bar, bathrobe, hair dryer, cable TV and a balcony with a view.
Room Tip: If you are a light sleeper, choose a room at driving range side. Ask for the 6th floor as it has the best views of the mountains.
Pro Tip: Try the coffee in the store just at the entrance of the hotel.
3. Peace Lodge and Waterfall Gardens
Just to let you know.. Peace Lodge is one of my favorite hotels in Costa Rica so I might go a bit overboard with the details. That said, If you are are flying into San Jose, you should make this an absolute must-see on your trip. It’s only an hour north, and would be on your way to Arenal.
This is one of the most beautiful hotels and amazing experiences you will have. It is the perfect Costa Rica experience all in one place. From the moment you arrive, you are treated like royalty (and with a nice welcome drink!) The service, grounds, activities and food are all spectacular.
First, the rooms are very unique. Gorgeous views of a never-ending rain forest landscape out your balcony, which is amazing in its own right… with a jacuzzi, hammock and seats to enjoy the tremendous views.
The beds were incredibly comfortable and the room spacious for a family of 4. But the best touch is the bathroom! There’s a rain forest and waterfall right in there! You’ll never want to leave! They also put your name on the door which kids love (mine did) and give you umbrellas in case of a little rain.
La Paz Waterfall Gardens
This is the greatest perk. When you stay here you have access to the waterfall gardens and animal reserve. There is so much to see and experience. There are 5 waterfalls that are located in an unforgettable setting made for the photographer in you.
Beware: There are a lot of stairs but any reasonably fit person can navigate this with ease and there is a bus at the bottom that picks you and brings you back to the lodge.
The animal reserve is a incredibly unique experience. The care that these animals who were rescued receive is amazing. You will see sloths, jaguars and monkeys. You will feed hummingbirds, toucans and sloths, and you will learn so much about them from the staff who care so much for all the animals.
While you can come to the park without staying at Peace Lodge and pay a day rate, I can tell you they treat you extra special as a guest here. It’s absolutely worth it! If you have kids– or even if you don’t– it is an amazing experience.
4. El Silencio Lodge and Spa
The El Silencio Lodge and Spa is located in a really pretty spot and the rooms come with all you would expect including the nice touch of having hot water bottle ready for you every night.
You would probably stay here 2 nights to get the full benefit of being here so although there aren’t a ton of options, there is more than enough for that amount of time. If you have a car, which I cannot see going here without one, you can always drive around the area as it very pretty.
The food and drink at the hotel are both very good. If you are a beer drinker you have to try some as they make it there! And the rooms are nice although I would recommend staying at the main lodge as I thought those rooms were better then the villas.
Some of the things you are going to want to do while you are there is:
- The Waterfalls at the hotel – They have 3 of them and you can see them both with or without a guide..
- Horseback riding.. Always a favorite and lots of fun.. It goes for about 2 hours.. which you think is not a long time but by then you are ready to call it a day..
- Del Toro Waterfall– A Big one… Takes a long time to go down and then back up as its about 400 steps.. but worth every step!
5. Trapp Family Country Inn
The Trapp Family Country Inn is a convenient place to stay at the start or end of a trip as its only a short ride to the airport and much nicer way to spend the first or last night in Costa Rica.The lodge is able to give you that last great (or first) taste of what being in Costa Rica is like.
The rooms themselves are basic but comfortable and the breakfast and dinner are both excellent. That said you should know that this not a modern hotel and if having AC is a necessity for you, then you may want to look at other options near the airport such as the Hampton Inn or similar.
But if you want a nice place at a very comfortable price then staying here will be a great experience for you
6. Casa Lima Bed and Breakfast
The Casa Lima B&B is a small place in a great neighborhood and close to the American Embassy. It is very nicely decorated with local flowers and foliage. It also has small waterfalls, fish and birds around.. Its a very nice Costa Rica type of environment.
Naturally being a B & B the breakfast is included and they do it right with Fresh squeezed juice, fresh fruits, coffee, and several food options. The banana pancakes are phenomenal!
If you are there at lunch or dinnertime you could check out the restaurant El Granaje which is about a 7 minute walk away (albeit up hill)
The nice rooms, free WiFi and a friendly staff make this B&B feel more like a home than just a place to stay at during your visit to Costa Rica..
7. Grano de Oro
I have stayed at the Grano de Oro and eaten here on many occasions and this place is a great option for those looking to stay downtown. Although you may not recognize it now, it was originally a family home and is a nice base if you are going to spend anytime in downtown San Jose visiting places like the Jade Museum or The National Theatre.
The restaurant at the hotel is often crowded with both locals and visitors as the food is wonderful and they have nice selection of wines to choose from.
Inside the hotel you will see vintage photos of old Costa Rica along the walls and gorgeous woodworking and antiques throughout the hotel. There is also a nice courtyard that you sit at during breakfast or later in the day it turns into a good place to have a drink.
In your room they have a mini bar and coffee machine with, of course, coffee from Costa Rica. This is a nice option to have when you first wake up and before heading out for breakfast or the day.
Pro Tip: Check out the two hot tubs on the roof
8. Hotel Don Carlos
The Hotel Done Carlos is itself is an old plantation house that was changed into what is now this small hotel. As you walk through the places you can see the history and art throughout.
You almost feel like you are in a museum with the beautiful paintings, stain glass, unique tiles and water features. Because of its central location there are plenty of restaurants and bar options around plus you are really close to many of the sites.
The rooms are larger then you think and are well appointed.
Just a nice place to stay with a real local feel. If you prefer not to stay in a chain hotel but want to stay downtown, this is a viable option.
When I was living in San Jose, I would go to their souvenir store to bring things home as they had unique and original stuff, you should check it out if you stay there or are in the neighborhood
Pro Tip: When reserving try to get a room overlooking courtyard with small Juliette balconies
Why Stay in San Jose and the Central Valley
If you arrive late or have a early departure you may want to spend the night closer to the airport. However, if your travel plans take you to the Arenal area you may want to stay at a place that goes in this direction and avoid the area of the Capital and Airport.
On the other side, if you are going to spend some time in San Jose, you may want to choose a hotel that is close to or in the downtown area so you can walk around and not have to be concerned about renting a car, at least for the time you spend in San Jose.
Finally, if you decide to stay in the center of San Jose, I would highly recommend that you do not rent a car during your time here as the roads are crazy, packed and difficult to navigate. Its better to take a taxi or Uber it to your hotel.