La Posada Bed and Breakfast (tel. 506/2445-7359, www.posadahotel.net , $35 s or $50 d standard, $40 s or $60 d with a/c and hot tub, $100 s/d suites), 50 meters east of the hospital, is a conversion of a home furnished with antique reproductions, albeit a bit gauche for some tastes. The 15 rooms in the original home have hardwood walls and ceilings, 37-inch cable TVs (eight also have stereo systems), and huge bathrooms; some have magnificent Louis XIV–style beds. Some downstairs rooms get little light; upstairs rooms are preferred and open to a balcony. Avoid the cramped and carpeted rooms in the annex. It has laundry, free Internet, and secure parking.
Run by a charming North American couple, Andrew and Beth Mastrandona, Angel Valley Farm Bed & Breakfast (tel. 506/2447-4084, www.angelvalleyfarmbandb.com , $35 s or $50 d low season, $40 s or $60 d high season), at Los Ángeles del Sur, has a picture-perfect setting with gorgeous views. Six individually styled rooms have delightful handmade components. Horseback riding is offered and Andrew runs tours for retirees (www.boomersincostarica.com ).
Some years ago I offered a ride from Paraíso  to Cartago  to Habitat for Humanity volunteers Christopher Panzer and his Peruvian wife Luisa. (“You also signed a copy of my dog-eared Moon Handbook,” he reminded me by email.) Well, now the couple has built a splendid B&B. Set on a hilltop with sensational views a few miles northeast of town, Casa Amanecer Bed & Breakfast (tel. 506/2445-2100, www.casa-amanecer-cr.com , $50 s, $65 d) opened in 2009. The visually delightful, family-friendly, and holistic place is constructed of teak with glazed concrete in its four colorful rooms, and adorned with Latin American ethnic art. All rooms have spacious walk-in showers and covered verandas with rockers for enjoying the spectacular views. Vegetarian meals are served, massages are offered, and the lounge doubles as an art gallery. The minimalist house was featured in the February/March 2009 issue of Costa Rica’s Su Casa architecture magazine; check it out on the hotel’s website.
A perfectly adequate alternative is the Israeli-run, animal-friendly Lands in Love (tel. 506/2447-9331, fax 506/2447-9334, www.landsinlove.com , $80 s, $94 d), on the northern slopes en route to La Tigra, 32 kilometers north of San Ramón . While the public arenas appeal, the accommodations are uninspired, although most of the 33 rooms have glossy hardwood floors and patios with amazing views. It also has its own adventure center, with zip line, horseback riding, and canyoning. And it operates a pet hotel—dogs abound! The spacious and airy restaurant is vegetarian only.
The superb Villablanca Cloud Forest Hotel & Nature Reserve (tel. 506/2461-3800, www.villablanca-costarica.com , $155 s/d superior, $175 s/d deluxe low season; $170 s/d superior, $192 s/d deluxe high season) sits atop the Continental Divide on the edge of the Los Ángeles reserve . The main lodge reflects its former life as a colonial farmhouse, albeit with a hip contemporary face-lift melding perfectly into the original structure. The 35 cozy chalets (sleeping 2–6 people; some are wheelchair-accessible) are appointed with handmade hardwood pieces and tasteful decor, plus WiFi. A small fireplace decorates one corner and the bathrooms are a testament to good taste: They include huge walk-in showers and (in suites) separate whirlpool tubs big enough for a Playboy party.
The full-service spa is welcome after a day of hiking or horseback riding, and the El Sendero restaurant serves gourmet Latin American fare in a classy ambience recalling the hotel’s farm heritage. The bar-lounge with two huge hearths, flat-screen TVs, and plump leather sofas is inviting, and there’s even a surround-sound movie theater (a nature documentary is shown at 6 p.m. nightly, followed by a top movie at 8 p.m.). While here, be sure to visit La Mariana Wedding Chapel, with a ceiling inlaid with painted ceramic tiles on the theme of Latin American religious virgins. This hotel, a member of the Greentique Hotels, is one of only eleven hotels in the country that have earned five “leaves” in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism program.
For eats in town, try Soda Típica La Paquereña (175 meters north of the ICE office, tel. 506/2447-1264, 7 a.m.–5 p.m. Mon.–Sat., 9 a.m.–2 p.m. Sun.), a soda run by a delightful Colombian couple. They serve Colombian fare such as arepas (corn-meal patties) and olla de carne (beef stew), plus seafood, fruit drinks, and shakes—all made using only natural ingredients.