Hotels and Resorts
- 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
The ridge-top Vista Serena Hostel (tel. 506/2777-5162, www.vistaserena.com, $10–15 pp dorm, $55–60 s/d room high season) is a hostel with a view, deservedly beloved by backpackers for the loving care and all-in-the-family feel infused by owner Conrad and his mum. There’s a cozy TV lounge, and a broad veranda has table soccer (foosball), hammocks, and a barbecue where communal pig-outs draw out “community” in the very best sense of the word. Plus it has WiFi and free calls to North America. Dorms and almost luxurious apartment-style private rooms are super clean and inviting. It offers its own Budget Mangrove Tour.
About one kilometer south of Quepos, El Mono Azul (tel. 506/2777-2572, www.hotelmonoazul.com, from $45–60 s/d low season, $60–85 s/d high season) has 20 clean and comfortable rooms in handsome condo-style units facing a small and pretty oval pool. Some have fans only; others are air-conditioned; all have cable TV. There’s a small gym, Internet café, game room, and art gallery, and movies are shown free in the highly rated restaurant.
A cool place to kick back in rustically elegant surrounds, the Hotel Plinio (tel. 506/2777-0055, www.hotelplinio.com, $40–50 s/d low season, $55–65 s/d high season) has an open restaurant serving Asian-influenced cuisine, and a bar resembling a rambling East African tree house. The 13 rooms (three with a/c) are dark but clean and have hot water. There’s an attractive swimming pool. A nature trail leads uphill through 10 hectares of primary forest to a wooden mirador that proffers a 360-degree vista.
Hotel La Colina (tel. 506/2777-0231, www.lacolina.com, $55–95 s/d low season, $65–105 s/d high season), about two kilometers south of Quepos, has rooms in a two-story ranchito-style house with black-and-white checkered floors. The modestly furnished, air-conditioned rooms are dark but pleasant enough and have cable TV. Six suites are more upscale, with lots of light, plus views from balconies. It also has two casitas. There’s a small two-tier pool with cascade, and a nice rancho restaurant, and it has WiFi.
The French Canadian–run Condominium Villas Mymosa (tel. 506/2777-1254, www.villasmymosa.com, $70–100 s/d low season, $120–160 high season) is a splendid option with 10 large, tastefully furnished, air-conditioned villas in three types surrounding a pool. All have a king-size and queen-size bed, kitchen, and exquisite bathrooms. There’s a restaurant.
I like Hotel Las Tres Banderas (tel. 506/2777-1871, www.hoteltresbanderas.com, $55–100 s/d low season, $80–120 s/d high season) for its friendly Polish owner Andrzej Nowacki. This handsome two-story Spanish colonial–style property has 14 spacious air-conditioned rooms in three types, including three suites with glossy hardwoods and exquisite bathrooms. Balconies open to both pool (front) and forest (rear). Suites have minibars and small refrigerators. Two deluxe rooms have king-size beds. All rooms have WiFi. You can opt for a fully equipped apartment ($200 low season, $250 high season). There’s also a self-contained stone-walled cabin apartment ($200 low season, $250 high season). Meals are prepared at an outside grill and served on the patio beside the pool and large whirlpool tub. Trails lead into the forest. There’s a game room and a TV in the bar, where live music is hosted on Sunday afternoons in high season.
Villas El Parque (tel. 506/2777-0096, www.hotelvillaselparque.com, $70–90 s/d suites, $145–175 s/d villas low season; $90–130 s/d suites, $200–220 s/d villas high season) has 17 standard rooms, 16 villas (no kitchens), and 18 suites with kitchens, in handsome Mediterranean style, all with WiFi, plus large balconies with hammocks and views out over the park. Delightful decor includes lively Guatemalan bedspreads. Suites can be combined with standard rooms to form bi-level villas. One suite is wheelchair-accessible. There’s a restaurant and a triple-level swimming pool. Monkeys visit the property every afternoon at “monkey hour.” It has sportfishing packages. A similar and similarly priced entity is Villas Nicolas (tel. 506/2777-0481, www.villasnicolas.com), with 12 privately owned, pleasantly furnished, one- and two-bedroom villa suites (in six types), all with private oceanview verandas overlooking lush grounds.
Villa Teca (tel. 506/2777-1117, www.villatecahotel.com, $80 s or $105 d low season, $105 s or $130 d high season) is an exquisite, aesthetically appealing modern property with daffodil-yellow red-tile-roofed villas scattered throughout the lushly vegetated hillside. There are 40 rooms in 20 air-conditioned bungalows with beautiful tropical floral spreads and a terrace. Highlights include an attractive pool and sundeck, thatched restaurant, and a free beach shuttle. Rates include tax.
The intimate Hotel Casitas Eclipse (tel./fax 506/2777-0408, www.casitaseclipse.org, $106 s/d standard, $135 suite, $224 casita low season; $140 s/d standard, $190 suite, $330 casita high season) is a lovely property offering 30 rooms in nine beautiful, well-lit, air-conditioned two-story villas. The brightly decorated, whitewashed Mediterranean-style accommodations are set in a hollow around three swimming pools with sun terraces and bougainvillea cascading over white walls; some rooms have full kitchens. You can rent the entire villa or one floor only. Rates include breakfast.
“Gorgeous” is a fitting description for The Falls (tel. 506/2777-1332, www.fallsresortcr.com, $95–245 s/d low season, $149–350 s/d high season), named for the cascades in lush gardens. Luxuriously appointed with quality linens and tasteful white-and-chocolate color schemes, the rooms have king-size beds, flat-screen cable TVs, DVD players, and terraces. Three luxury tree houses were to be added, connected by hanging bridges and served by their own infinity pool. Low-season rates are a steal for this exquisite property.
The nicely refurbished ridge-top Hotel California (tel. 506/2777-1234, www.hotel-california.com, $110–180 s/d low season, $150–200 s/d high season) has improved under new U.S. owners. The three-story hotel with the name you’ll never forget has terra-cotta tile throughout, plus 28 graciously appointed rooms with marvelous views from the balconies overlooking a pool with wooden deck.
Also to consider in this price bracket are Costa Verde (tel. 506/2777-0584, www.hotelcostaverde.com), a three-story modern unit offering efficiencies, studios, studio apartments, and a penthouse suite housed in the fuselage of a Boeing 727 (yes, you read that right; at least you won’t lack for overhead bins); and the delightful Byblos (tel. 506/2777-0411, www.bybloshotelcostarica.com), a stylish quasi-Swiss lodge with seven bungalows and nine rooms in lush landscaped grounds.
The venerable and ever-evolving Hotel La Mariposa (tel. 506/2777-0355, U.S. tel. 800/572-6440, www.hotelmariposa.com, $155–335 s/d low season, $215–450 s/d high season) was the first deluxe hotel in Manuel Antonio and is still a hard act to beat for its magnificent location, with perhaps the best views in the area. It has 66 air-conditioned rooms. Eight vast standard rooms in the main house offer garden views from lower stories, and fabulous coastal views from upper rooms, enjoyed through picture windows and wraparound balconies, but I don’t like their frumpy decor or the access by a frail metal spiral staircase that can induce vertigo in the weak-hearted. Ten split-level Mediterranean-style cottage-villas nestle on the hillcrest; each has a deck—with outside whirlpools in the junior suites—and a skylit bathroom. Deluxe units have beam ceilings with fans, and whirlpool bathtubs. Fifteen premier suites and a penthouse with walls of glass have striking contemporary furnishings. The restaurant serves French-inspired fare. It has two swimming pools (one an infinity pool) with swim-up bars, a massage room, and a gift store. A trail leads to the beach.
For intimacy, I would opt for Mango Moon B&B (tel. 506/2777-5323, www.mangomoon.net, $110–195 s/d low season, $150–275 s/d high season), a Spanish colonial–style mansion with eight romantically furnished rooms. A shady terrace overlooks a kidney-shaped pool surrounded by forest, but with ocean views. Nice!
Readers report favorably on Tulemar Bungalows (tel. 506/2777-0580, www.tulemar.com, $195–625 s/d low season, $270–275 s/d high season), which claims its “own exclusive beach” (with free kayaks and snorkeling) and forest reserve. Tulemar’s loftily perched oceanview air-conditioned bungalows in various types are surrounded by trees and lawns. All have beautiful interiors highlighted by 180-degree windows and bulbous skylights. There’s a small horizon swimming pool with a bar, plus a shop and snack bar. Choose from one-bedroom units or multi-bedroom units on two levels accessed by a bridged walkway. Tulemar also has three gorgeous houses for rent, including Casa de Frutas, a Balinese-inspired beauty with its own infinity plunge pool.
A delightful adults-only alternative, Makanda by the Sea (tel. 506/2777-0442 or 888/625-2632, www.makanda.com, $200–300 s/d low season, $265–400 s/d high season) is blessed by an enviable setting. Eleven elegant individually styled timber-beamed villas and studios line walkways that weave through a series of Japanese gardens designed into the hillside. All have king-size beds, vaulted ceilings, polished hardwoods, and minimalist decor that melds Milan with Kyoto. Wall-to-wall french doors open to wraparound verandas. The design extends to a pool suspended on the hillside, with a whirlpool tub and the exceptional Sunsport Poolside Bar and Grill. A complimentary breakfast is delivered to your door each morning. It’s a long hike to the private beach, which lacks facilities, but I’ve always loved the aesthetic here.
If a more classical European elegance is your thing, look to the luxurious La Mansion Inn (tel. 506/2777-3489 or 800/360-2071, www.lamansioninn.com, $125–650 s/d low season, $295–850 s/d high season), a boutique hotel with a contemporary Spanish-colonial theme. It boasts original artwork and tremendous views. Each of the 20 perfumed, air-conditioned rooms and five suites comes with a fruit basket and bottle of wine. Rooms feature French drapes, handmade Italian furnishings (including gracious king-size wrought-iron beds), large walk-in showers, and luxurious fittings. The huge one-, two-, and three-bedroom suites have marble bathrooms, en-suite whirlpool tubs, and 24-carat-gold faucets! A free-form pool complex is fed by a water cascade from a whirlpool tub. The on-site Bat Cave bar is one of a kind. It also has a billiards room, massage, and an air-conditioned dining room.
Awarded five leaves in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program, Hotel and Beach Club El Parador (tel. 506/2777-1414, www.hotelparador.com, $135–300 s/d low season, $150–300 s/d high season) stands atop the tip of Punta Quepos, with fine beach views. This flashback to the romantic posadas of Spain is adorned with a suit of armor, hefty oak beams, antique wrought-iron chandeliers, tapestries, antiques, and historic artifacts, and thick-timbered wooden doors and shuttered windows from Spanish castles. The 25 motel-style standard rooms (which disappoint), 20 deluxe rooms, and 15 suites (complete with whirlpool tub), however, are furnished in contemporary vogue. Facilities include a huge terrace bar, stone-lined wine-tasting-room-cum-casino, miniature golf course, two swimming pools, hair salon, health spa, and business center.
Issimo Suites (tel. 506/2777-4410, in North America 888/400-1985, www.issimosuites.com, $169–475 s/d low season, $199–575 s/d high season) enjoys an enviable position with fantastic views. I love its contemporary style. Clad with coral-stone floors, the nine suites are gorgeous and have leopard-print spreads, wraparound sofas, and heaps of light pouring in through walls of glass opening to stone-paved balconies (the presidential suite even has its own patio pool). The restaurant has fabulous views, the lounge bar boasts a large-screen TV, and there’s a deluxe spa plus a plunge pool used for dive training. Watch for special packages.
Nearby, the deluxe, eco-friendly Arenas del Mar (tel. 506/2777-2777, www.arenasdelmar.com, $300–490 s/d low season, $360–610 s/d high season) is a sister to Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation & Inn, near Heredia, and is the sole hotel in the area with both a forested hillside perch and direct beach access. The sensational Asian-inspired lobby has a huge open-air bar and stylish restaurant (serving contemporary Costa Rican cuisine) opening to a free-form pool with a deck that has views over Playa Espadilla, silvered by sunlight through the trees. The 38 one- and two-bedroom, air-conditioned suites in seven three-story blocks have a stylish contemporary aesthetic, divinely comfortable beds, flat-screen TVs, WiFi, recessed ceilings studded with halogens, and whirlpools inset in balconies—many with beach views. Families might opt for huge two-bedroom apartments. Its position overlooking both Playa Espadilla and Playa Dulce Vida is unbeatable. Golf carts ferry you up and down from the parking lot and to the hotel’s beach club at Playitas, where some of the guest rooms are located. One thing I love here—you sleep to the sound of the waves crashing ashore below. Plus, it’s one of only a fistful of five-leaf hotels in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program. Call a lover and book now!
My favorite hotel remains Hotel Villas Si Como No (tel. 506/2777-0777, in North America tel. 888/742-6667, www.sicomono.com, $185–320 s/d suites low season, $210–340 s/d suites high season). It has 58 spacious and elegant suites with terra-cotta floors, tropical prints, queen- or king-size beds of rustic teak, mosquito nets, halogen reading lamps, bathrooms with bench seats and glass-brick walls, and french doors opening to balconies with views. It also has apartment units. The original units received a total face-lift in 2007, with high-thread-count sheets, travertine bathrooms, and poured-concrete sofas with rich red fabrics. Even better are the 18 deluxe wheelchair-accessible units, which have a classy contemporary aesthetic, with king-size beds, oversize sofas, flat-screen TVs, and fabulous bathrooms with huge walk-in showers. Three honeymoon suites have garden whirlpool tubs, and there’s a three-bedroom penthouse suite. The ecologically state-of-the-art hotel is only one of four hotels in the country that has earned five leaves in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism campaign. A pool and sundeck feature a water slide, cascades, whirlpool, and swim-up bar. A second pool is for adults only. The two restaurants are among Manuel Antonio’s finest. There’s also a state-of-the-art movie theater, conference center, and upscale spa. And it runs its own tours, including the highly recommended Santa Juana Mountain Tour.
Urban sophisticates might prefer Gaia Hotel and Reserve (tel. 506/2777-9797, www.gaiahr.com, $290–800 s/d low season, $360–960 s/d high season), three kilometers south of Quepos. This hip, angular, postmodern hotel makes good use of brushed steel and the classiest 21st-century decor, with not a hint of the tropics. Sumptuous suites boat flat-screen TVs, surround-sound music systems, portable phones, entertainment units, and clinically white decor against rattan and dark hardwood furnishings. Choose from six types of rooms, plus two-bedroom villas. The mattresses are divinely comfortable. Get the picture? Guests even get private butlers. The spa is top-class, and there’s a triple-tiered horizon pool, a 12-acre nature reserve with trails, and La Luna Restaurant, one of the best in town (not least for the panoramic views).
For better or worse, Manuel Antonio got its first high-rise complex with the opening in 2010 of Los Altos Beach Resort & Spa (tel. 506/2777-1197, www.losaltosresort.com). Regardless, the units are totally fabulous for sophisticates who appreciate a super-chic aesthetic that includes pewter slate floors, marble counters, and a stylish chocolate, slate, and white color scheme. All floors have two units, each with direct elevator access. All are huge three-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom apartment suites with balconies, custom-designed hand-crafted furniture, and full kitchens. Private chefs can be requested. The bi-level penthouse sleeps eight people and has a sensational master bathroom. A horizon pool and sundeck studs spacious lawns with wonderful views down toward the ocean. It has a top-class gym, plus a rooftop hot tub and a private beach club. The Karolas restaurant is here, and a second restaurant was to be added.
Suspended above Playa Biesanz, The Ocean Boutique Resort & Spa, the The SUU Hotel (tel. 506/2774-0221, www.thesuuhotels.com, $200–800 s/d low season, $275–900 s/d high season) competes for the luxury stakes with 28 deluxe rooms in five styles. Don’t be put off by the horrendous Spanish-colonial architecture, as the chic decor will delight young and young-at-heart city slickers. Other highlights include a deluxe spa, and a private chef on request.
“Jaw-dropping” is a good term to describe Punto de Vista (tel. 506/8841-8411, www.puntodevistacr.com, from $1,750 low season, $2,000 high season, for up to 12 people), an architectural mind-blower with a fine hillside venue. The inspired design is the work of the owner, architect David Konwiser, who etched this five-story, 10-bedroom structure with nautically inspired walls of glass on three sides, and a surfeit of marble, natural stone, and white cement. You’ll dine alfresco on the rooftop deck (which has a triangular hot tub), and swim in a horizon pool illuminated by colored lights at night. World-renowned architect I. M. Pei has even vacationed here!
Meanwhile, lovers of contemporary architecture may also thrill to rent out the absolutely stunning Casa Elsa (www.casaelsa.net, $4,500–14,000 weekly), a chic four-bedroom hillside villa.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition