- The Best of Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Top Spots for WIldlife
- Costa Rica’s Most Beautiful Beaches
- Costa Rica’s Best Beaches for Wildlife
- Best Surfing Beaches in Costa Rica
- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
In the heart of Santa Ana, the New Mexico–style Hotel Casa Alegre (tel. 506/2235-5485, www.hotelcasaalegre.com, from $55 s/d low season, from $70 s/d high season) has charming decor and a friendly serenity. The eight rooms include cable TV, fans, WiFi, terra-cotta tile floors, and Guatemala spreads on sturdy timber beds. Filling breakfasts are served on an airy poolside patio. Alejandra and Gregory Chávez play amiable hosts.
Aiming for executives, and making a splash with its sensational minimalist decor, the Galiza Suites (tel. 506/2205-2222, www.galizasuites.com, $150–375 s/d), on the southwest side of town, opened in 2008 with stylishly contemporary nonsmoking suites with state-of-the-art amenities. The sumptuous apartments have flat-screen TVs and WiFi, plus full kitchen, and divinely comfortable king-size beds. Request a rear-facing unit to minimize traffic noise.
A few kilometers west of Piedades, in the hillside hamlet of La Trinidad, is the simple yet tasteful and reclusive Hotel El Marañon (tel. 506/2249-1271, www.cultourica.com, $40 s, $55 d), surrounded by an orchard and with views toward Poás enjoyed from a terrace. It has 14 lovely rooms done up in lively tropical pastels. Hammocks are slung beneath ranchitos in the garden. There’s also a three-room apartment with kitchen for $70. Children are welcome. A restaurant offers creative dishes and occasionally hosts live music. It offers two-week Spanish-language courses and offers 3- to 20-day excursions. Rates include breakfast.
“Splendid” is the word for Hotel Posada Canal Grande (tel. 506/2282-4089, www.hotelcanalgrande.com, $58 s, $78 d), on an old coffee finca 800 meters north of the church in Piedades. The two-story villa-hotel is operated by a Florentine art collector and boasts an old terra-cotta tile floor, rustic antique furnishings, plump leather chairs, and a fireplace. The 12 bedrooms have parquet wood floors, exquisite rattan-framed queen-size beds with Guatemalan bedspreads, cable TV, and wide windows offering views toward the Gulf of Nicoya. Italian taste is everywhere, from the ultra-chic furniture and halogen lamps to the classical vases overflowing with flowers. There’s a large pool in grounds mantled in coffee and fruit trees. It has a restaurant, sauna, and tour agency, and massage and horseback rides are offered. Airport transfers are provided, and rates include breakfast.
The Corteza Amarilla Art Lodge & Spa (tel. 506/2203-7350, www.cortezaamarillalodge.com, $145 s/d junior suite, $175 s/d suite), five kilometers west of Santa Ana, on the main San José–Colón road, is a unique, rambling offbeat charmer—almost Haight-Ashbury bohemian in tone. The 12 spacious, delightful, air-conditioned rooms and suites are set amid a tropical Fantasia and feature ceiling fans, TVs, wireless Internet, mini-bar, hair dryers, and coffeemakers, plus stone-walled showers. However, some rooms get hot! The high point is its equally eclectic and exciting restaurant, Corteza Amarilla Fine Dining (7 a.m.–10 p.m. daily).
The most endearing place around is Casa Bella Rita Boutique B&B (tel. 506/2249-3722, www.casabellarita.com, $99–129 s/d low season, $119–139 s/d high season), at Brasil de Santa Ana. Owners Steve and Rita bring 50 years of restaurant experience to their intimate bed-and-breakfast, as well as a lovely (and very colorful) aesthetic to the six individually styled rooms and public lounges. The Canopy Room (the largest room) has a king and queen bed and heaps of light; the Mariposa Room boasts a garden shower. All rooms have air-conditioning, ceiling fans, iPod stations, and cable TV. Steve and Rita are fabulous hosts who serve amazing breakfasts and provide such thoughtful touches as bathrobes, plus free airport shuttles. There’s a lovely patio garden with small pool and lounge chairs overlooking the canyon of the Río Virilla—a fabulous setting, shared from an upstairs lounge with deep leather sofas and chairs and a computer station.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition