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Known as Chepe, to locals, San Jose, Costa Rica, is considered one of the safest capitals in Latin America. It has a small population of just 333,000 people, yet a million commuters come here every day to work, making it a thriving and bustling city of commerce.
Take a stroll down Grand Ave, the one-kilometer stretch of pedestrian-only boulevard that is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. And don’t forget to check out the Centro Costarricense de la Ciencia y la Cultura, an old penitentiary that's now a science and culture museum complex. Come the end of the day, you’ll be ready to rest at one of these well-appointed hotels.
Best Overall: Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose
The views of the mountains or the downtown skyline from this 30-acre canary yellow, former coffee plantation are breathtaking. Conveniently located just a 20-minute drive from the center of downtown San Jose, the Marriott offers luxurious accommodations in either pool or mountain view rooms, where you’ll find fluffy bathrobes, cable TV, and pillowtop mattresses.
Come dinner time you can choose between the casual elegance of traditional Costa Rican flavors of the Hacienda Kitchen, or sample some Peruvian classics at La Isabela. There is also a cafe and two bars to keep you well fed and refreshed and a fitness center, outdoor pool and spa in which to relax.
Best Budget: San Jose Cocoon Hotel
A crisp shot of lime green unifies both the exterior of the Cocoon hostel and hotel and is used throughout the rooms as a fresh decor choice. This is a modern, clean accommodation offering small dormitories with just three beds and private bathrooms, or individual hotel rooms, all with free Wi-Fi.
You are only walking distance from many attractions in downtown San Jose and four major bus stations in the historic district of Barrio Amon.
Once you start to feel hungry check out the varied buffet at the restaurant which is served three times a day. Be sure to catch a soccer match on the hotel bar’s flat screen T.V or listen to the live music on Friday nights.
Best Boutique: Boutique Hotel Casa Orquideas
The Casa Orquideas has seven simple rooms, decorated modestly but what it lacks in fancy decor it more than makes up for in charm and attentive customer service. Each room comes with a flat-screen cable TV and a minibar. A games room and shared TV lounge help you to make friends and socialize with other guests. Culture vultures will be satisfied as this property is less than a mile from the National Museum of Costa Rica. You are also well placed to explore plenty of neighborhood restaurants to satisfy your appetite.
Best for Families: Hotel Santo Tomas
A personal welcome awaits you when you choose the Hotel Santo Tomas, located in the Barrio Amon neighborhood. The friendly owner is available to answer any questions and will also attend to any specific needs families may have from organizing baby equipment to helping to book tours of the surrounding area.
Rooms are traditionally decorated and a little dated but inviting and comfortable nonetheless.
Children will love the fun outdoor pool with slide and when you all start to feel a bit hungry you can enjoy poolside dining from the hotel restaurant, which also serves a daily cooked breakfast included in the room rate. If your kids are old enough to be left alone for a date night, grab a drink at Harry’s bar opposite the hotel or take a relaxing dip in the Jacuzzi.
Best Luxury: Intercontinental Costa Rica At Multiplaza Mall
The Intercontinental hotel is located right within the Multiplaza Mall complex, in the exclusive upscale Escazú district. Once inside this leafy retreat, surrounded by lush tropical gardens you can easily forget you are in the middle of a busy capital city. Enjoy a float in the heated pools, work out at the state of the art fitness center, or book a luxurious treatment at the high-end spa. In the evening you’ll enjoy supper at any of the four trendy restaurants, including options to dine on sushi, surf and turf and traditional Costa Rican dishes. At the end of the day retire to your beautiful 900 square foot suite with a king size bed, iPod docking station, wireless high-speed internet and 48-inch smart TV. Classic rooms still manage to impress with soundproof windows and 300 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets to make sure you get a good night's sleep in this luxury city center hotel.
Best Nightlife: Apartotel La Sabana
Apartments at the La Sabana provide visitors with a small kitchen, dining area and the extra space of a self-contained unit. However, they still offer traditional hotel amenities like room service, a concierge and airport transfers. Enjoy relaxing in the pool amid tropical gardens and a colorful fountain water feature. Or dial up a spa service brought right to your room, including their famous chocolate body wraps. In the evenings you’ll find a huge variety of nightclubs, bars, and restaurants in the surrounding area, like Ozzy’s sports bar and the Xcape lounge. Buffet breakfast is served every morning; be sure to try the traditional Gallo pinto, which is a rice and beans dish that will help you recover from a late night.
Best Business: Park Inn by Radisson San Jose
Less than four kilometers from the center of town the Radisson offers the working traveler a dedicated 24-hour business center to make it easy and convenient to keep up with the demands of the office. You can reserve any of the 13 meeting rooms, which come with high-speed Internet, audiovisual equipment, and full service catering for an additional fee.
Expect to wake refreshed for the day's meetings after sleeping on your room’s exclusive Sleep Number® bed, make yourself a quick cup of authentic Costa Rican coffee to start the day, or grab a continental breakfast from the executive lounge. For an evening meal, you can visit the hotels elegant Acuarelas Restaurant, which overlooks the pool, before unwinding and enjoying an evening of live music at the bar.
Best B&B: Casa Bella Rita Boutique Bed & Breakfast
The Casa Bella Rita is located just five minutes from the airport in the Central Valley, you’ll be well placed to visit local markets, like the Saturday market in Ciudad Colón and nearby attractions. Restaurants, cafes, and bars are also within a short drive and the friendly hosts are happy to arrange a private chauffeur at fair prices.
Each of the five rooms available is decorated in a unique style with local handicrafts and artwork on display. You can keep cool with the in-room A/C as you watch a little cable TV or stay connected with friends and family using the free Wi-Fi. Daily hot breakfasts are served on the tropical garden patio with beautiful views of the valley. For total relaxation under the sun, take a book and be sure to snag a spot in one of the hammocks in the garden ranch.