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Costa Rica Hotels

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Arenas del Mar Beach and Nature Resort
Manuel Antonio National Park , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2777 2777
info@arenasdelmar.com
www.arenasdelmar.com

The idyllic jungle-meets-beach location of this Pacific Coast resort means guests can spot two-foot iguanas, white-faced monkeys, and birds of myriad species without even leaving their poolside loungers; and strong eco credentials should ensure the wildlife sticks around. (Few trees were felled to make way for the property, thousands more have been planted, solar panels heat the water, and electric buggies ferry guests to their rooms.) The upper-level thatched reception, pool, bar, and restaurant area overlooks Playa Espadilla, a wide beach with the occasional sculptural rock, and there's another pool and café serving tasty wraps and salads on Playitas Beach, a sheltered cove that once had a nudist colony. The seven three-story buildings that house the 38 rooms look somewhat out of place amid the leafy environs; their sand-brick-encased windows and concrete staircases could have come from Miami, while marble-and-mosaic-tile bathrooms, heavy curtains, and flat-screen TVs make the rooms feel more city hotel than ecolodge; still, they're spacious and comfortable, and many have spectacular ocean views. El Mirador offers superb modern Costa Rican cuisine with an emphasis on seafood, served by an enthusiastic staff.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Capitán Suizo
Playa Tamarindo , Guanacaste
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2653 0075
capsuizo@racsa.co.cr
www.hotelcapitansuizo.com

Hidden away in the tropical undergrowth on the edge of Playa Tamarindo, the Nicoya Peninsula's most popular beach, Capitán Suizo is a laid-back hotel for sand-and-surf lovers run by Swiss owners Ursula and Ruedi Schmid. Howler and white-faced monkeys hang out on the lush grounds, and iguanas often join guests to sunbathe around the pool. Most of the 22 guest rooms are split-level and huge, decorated simply in white or pastel shades with teak furnishings and walls of glass. If you're splurging, consider the eight bungalows and a four-bedroom apartment; request a bungalow with an ocean view, as some don't face the shore. At the open-air restaurant, German chef Roland Brodscholl uses local ingredients in fusion dishes, such as papaya soup with coriander and ginger, and marimba players perform nightly. There are a host of activities on hand, from kayaking and surfing to beach volleyball and even Ping-Pong, which means that guests have the best of both worlds here: either filling their days with as much fun in the sun as possible or idling away the hours on their private terrace in the jungle shade.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
El Silencio Lodge & Spa
Bajos del Toro , Alajuela
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2761 0301
info@elsilenciolodge.com
www.elsilenciolodge.com

In the country that practically invented ecotourism, El Silencio sets a new standard for responsible luxury. The 16 khaki-colored cottages are built of environmentally friendly materials such as bamboo tiles, with lamp bases and towel racks fashioned from logs and twigs. (There are also plans to begin education programs for the community.) The identical one-room cottages—each with a king-size bed, two plush sofas that can double as extra sleeping nooks, and a gas fireplace to cut the morning chill—are plenty roomy, but the biggest draw is beyond the sliding glass doors: As you watch the late-afternoon mist slide over the lushly forested mountains from your cottage's rail-less porch, you'll know why this is called the cloud forest. The largely local staff are ever present and eager to please, whether you're up for a guided walk through the adjacent 500-acre reserve to several waterfalls—some gushers and others trickles—or yoga practice on the open-air platform at the spa. Chef Marco González's Costa Rican–fusion food is among the best in the country, sourced from the resort's own organic garden and nearby purveyors of produce and naturally raised chicken and fish.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Finca Rosa Blanca
Santa Bárbara , Heredia
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2269 9392
info@fincarosablanca.com
www.fincarosablanca.com

Finca Rosa Blanca, a winsome inn and plantation located half an hour north of San José in the central highlands of Costa Rica, has been lauded for its eco-friendly practices, which include the use of solar energy, composting, and water recycling. Quirky details in the 13 guest rooms (all suites), such as hand-painted murals and unusually shaped windows, give the impression of staying at an artistic friend's house. But you still get all the trappings of an elegant hotel, including whirlpool baths and private verandas overlooking the verdant Central Valley. At El Tigre Vestido Restaurant, freshly brewed coffee comes from Finca Rosa Blanca's own organic plantation; mangoes, papayas, avocados, lemons, and guavas are handpicked from the eight acres of tropical gardens that surround the inn. There's also a spring-fed infinity pool with a 12-foot cascading waterfall and a hot tub. For more hands-on relaxation, book a volcanic mud wrap or a coffee body scrub at the intimate El Targua Spa.—Anja Mutić

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Florblanca
Santa Teresa , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2640 0232
info@florblanca.com
www.florblanca.com

Located in tiny Santa Teresa on the southern end of the Nicoya Peninsula, Florblanca attracts yoga buffs, spa addicts with an adventurous streak, surfers with money to burn, and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio and Gisele Bündchen. Inspired by Balinese architecture, the ten one- and two-bedroom villas—all with sunken tubs and garden showers in the outdoor bathrooms—are constructed of dark hardwoods and have fold-back panel windows on three sides. The beachfront yoga center hosts a year-round program of workshops and retreats and includes an eco-centric spa for natural skin treatments and massages; an on-site biologist leads exploratory hikes into the rainforest. If you still have energy to burn, there's horseback riding, mountain biking, and snorkeling. If not, refuel at the open-air Nectar restaurant, which has a sushi bar (try the creative rolls of fresh-caught tuna and red snapper) and talented young chef Spencer Graves preparing Asian-Pacific-Latino fusion dishes in the kitchen. With a five-leaf rating for green sustainability from the Costa Rican Tourism Board, Florblanca is for in-the-know luxury travelers who want an authentic eco-resort experience without giving up any creature comforts.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Four Seasons Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo
Peninsula Papagayo , Guanacaste
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2696 0000
reservations.cos@fourseasons.com
www.fourseasons.com/costarica

Costa Rican architect Ronald Zürcher, who cut his teeth on his brother Harold's famous and beloved Hotel Punta Islita, was responsible for the design of this flashy resort. If you prefer to experience nature with L'Occitane products in your outsize soaking tub, speedy 24-hour room service delivered to your broad balcony, and high-thread-count linens on your plush bed, this is the place for you. The resort straddles the northern extreme of the Nicoya Peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the calm Bahía de Culebra on the other. But don't expect smashing views: Most of the 173 rooms are shaded by the tropical canopy. In summer, the trees thin out at the top, so opt for rooms on the upper floors for an ocean outlook. Hit the Arnold Palmer golf course or treat yourself to a Selva de Osa mud mask in the Serenity spa after dumping the kids at their own (free) club; there's even a separate program for teens. Four Seasons has four dining options, the most popular of which is the formal restaurant Di Mare, serving Italian fare.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Gaia Hotel and Reserve
Carretera Quepos, Km. 2.7
Manuel Antonio National Park , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 800 226 2515 (toll-free)
Tel: 506 2777 9797
reservations@gaiahr.com
www.gaiahr.com

Clinging to the top of a mountain within a 13-acre private nature reserve, this contemporary playground on Costa Rica's western coast suggests a modernistic game of Chutes and Ladders, with stone, concrete, and steel staircases leading to the resort's different levels. Water cascades from those levels into the multi-tiered pool or into the channel along the edge of the spectacular open-air dining pavilion or down the spa's stone walls. Studios, the smallest accommodations, are spare and urbane in style, with wide views over green hillsides to the Pacific beyond; though oddly the narrow bathroom runs in a corridor along the room's length behind sliding panels. Among the exceptional dining options at La Luna is a filet mignon with béarnaise sauce over a yucca pancake. Breakfast, butler service, and yoga class are, happily, included in the rate.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Grano de Oro
Calle 30, between avenidas 2 and 4
San José
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2255 3322
info@hotelgranodeoro.com
www.hotelgranodeoro.com

Flights tend to arrive late and leave early from Costa Rica, so there's a good chance you'll be staying overnight in the capital of San José. That proposition becomes much more appealing if you're booked into the Hotel Grano de Oro, about 20 minutes from Juan Santamaría Airport. Two decades ago, Canadian owners Eldon and Lori Cooke bought a century-old mansion in a quiet residential area near La Sabana Park and converted it into this charming 21-room hotel. All rooms have gleaming hardwood floors, wood paneling, regal Edwardian furnishings, divinely comfortable mattresses, and flat-screen TVs; deluxe rooms open onto private patios. Although the hotel has no swimming pool, there are two whirlpool tubs in the rooftop solarium. The staff here is tack-sharp with a smile, most noticeably when you sit down for a prix-fixe dinner in the Restaurante Hotel Grano de Oro.—Christopher P. Baker

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Sí Como No
Manuel Antonio National Park , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2777 0777
reservations@sicomono.com
www.sicomono.com

The look is chic boutique but the attitude is eco-lodge at this 58-room hilltop hotel, located near the entrance of Manuel Antonio National Park on the Central Pacific coast. Troops of squirrel monkeys swing through the trees near the outdoor bar, and iguanas sun themselves by the two pools (one for families with a waterslide built into the hillside, the other reserved for grown-ups). To meet more of the local residents, guests can pop over to the neighboring Fincas Naturales Butterfly Garden, which is home to butterflies, poison dart frogs, caimans, and crocodiles. The standard rooms here are surprisingly large and include separate living rooms, but it's worth spending a bit more for a deluxe room with a balcony overlooking the shore. The restaurant Claro Que Sí serves nouvelle Latin cuisine, and owner Jim Damalas, a former Hollywood producer, has made every effort to make sure guests are well entertained with amenities such as a state-of-the-art movie theater, a Serenity spa, and one of the best art galleries in the region. He's also outfitted the hotel with irrigation, waste disposal, and energy-efficient systems that have earned Hotel Si Como No a perfect five-leaf eco-friendliness score from the Costa Rican Tourism Board.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa
Playa Tamarindo , Guanacaste
Costa Rica
Tel: 888 236 2427 (toll-free)
Tel: 506 2681 2000
www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/sjojw-jw-marriott-guanacaste-resort-and-spa/

This 310-room oceanfront resort on the Nicoya Peninsula is on the edge of the 4,500-acre Hacienda Pinilla, a working ranch being developed into an exclusive residential community, and is surrounded by dry scrub forest, riding stables, an 18-hole golf course, and, happily, more howler monkeys than permanent residents. Its design evokes a comfortable Spanish hacienda, complete with friendly local staff. Basalt and off-white-stucco construction blends with the ranch surroundings, and sunny, hammock-lined courtyards bordered by breezy outdoor passageways divide this otherwise large hotel into intimate spaces. Guest rooms, which feature local artwork and earth-toned textiles, suffer from a somewhat indistinct—and slightly cramped—feel; private balconies afford extra space, however, with most views dominated by the sinuous pool (piped-in pop music can disrupt the otherwise serene atmosphere). The resort caters perfectly to those seeking active relaxation in a contained resort complex. Serving up delicately flavored seafood, the Azul poolside grill, one of the resort's four superb restaurants, is a welcome oasis, and tiny but pristine Mansita Beach lies just beyond the tables.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Lapa Rios
Matapalo , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2735 5130
info@laparios.com
www.laparios.com

Lapas Rios, the first deluxe eco-lodge to open on the Osa Peninsula, is one of the best wilderness resorts in Costa Rica, in part because of its prime perch on a ridge 350 feet above the Pacific Ocean. Reached by boardwalks above the forest floor, the 16 thatched-roof bungalows are suspended at the rainforest's edge like tree houses complete with canopy beds, spalike bathrooms, and expansive decks with amazing ocean views. Don't be surprised if you're joined by a few wild visitors while lounging outside, such as toucans, howler monkeys, three-toed sloths, and huge morpho butterflies. Animal lovers come here for rainforest hikes, bird watching, ocean kayaking, and horseback riding on deserted beaches, plus yoga classes, massages, and lazing in hammocks.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Los Altos Beach Resort & Spa
Manuel Antonio National Park , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2777 1197
info@losaltosresort.com
www.losaltosresort.com

Manuel Antonio doesn't lack for fine hotels, but Los Altos Beach Resort & Spa, which opened in 2010, offers something new. For better or worse, it's the first high-rise to go up at this popular destination. Its 28 three- and four-bedroom apartments, each with private elevator access, have an urban-boutique style that's unusual for hotels in the region. The minimalist interiors feature custom-designed hardwood furniture and wraparound rattan sofas on dark-gray slate floors; nature-themed paintings add a splash of tropical color. The apartments all have fully equipped kitchens (personal maids and chefs are available for an extra fee), though Karola fusion restaurant (long a staple of the Manuel Antonio fine-dining scene) has been relocated here, too. Los Altos also has a gym, plus a private beach club and bar where guests may spot passing whales offshore or crab-eating jungle critters looking for dinner on the shingle beach.—Christopher P. Baker

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Monte Azul Hotel & Center for Fine Art
Chimirol de Rivas
Chirripó National Park
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2742 5222
info@monteazulcr.com
www.monteazulcr.com

If Costa Rica was a pioneer in ecotourism, Monte Azul may just redefine it: On-site owners Randy Langendorfer and Carlos Rojas have set new standards for sustainability and style in this remote jungle community. Friends and neighbors supply most of the hotel's needs: Perfectly aged steak, organic vegetables, fresh milk, eggs—even the hotel's uniforms—are produced just down the road. As for the rest, they make or grow it themselves: the artisanal bread, the furniture, the soaps, the shade-grown coffee, the welcome platter of chèvre that comes from their own goats. Not surprisingly, meals at Café Blue are fresh and inventive. Although Monte Azul's considerable charms will most appeal to those who prefer a gentler pace, the hotel has an elegantly bohemian side as well. Originally conceived as an artist's retreat, the hotel hosts its own artist-in-residence program, and buildings double as galleries for their works. Funky and charming, the four earth-toned casitas on the banks of the tumbled Chirripó River resemble 1950s Palm Springs–style artists' abodes cocooned in deep jungle. For long, quiet views of forest-laced mountains, wander up the hill past the resident troop of capuchin monkeys to the hotel's crown jewel, Casa Palo Alto. This graceful two-suite structure, built of local woods and dark stone and with endless windows, presides queenlike over the 125-acre private preserve and the thundering river below.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Monteverde Lodge and Gardens
Monteverde , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2257 0766
ecotur@expeditions.co.cr
www.costaricaexpeditions.com/Lodging/monteverde/

This secluded 27-room eco-lodge, a ten-minute uphill drive from the Monteverde Cloud Forest Preserve, is one of the finest hotels in the Monteverde region. A 2010 remodel retained the rustic charm of the hotel's public spaces (rough-hewn ceiling beams, a circular fireplace in the cozy lounge bar); the bright, airy guest rooms are more refined, featuring comfy beds with plump green duvets, blond wicker chairs, and slate bathrooms with solar-heated bathtubs. Book the renovated garden cabin for extra privacy. In keeping with the eco ethos, aspects of the architecture help bring the outside in: A 14-person hot tub off the lobby is situated within a glass atrium, and there are triangular bay windows in the 24 standard rooms for viewing tropical birds and wildlife. The lodge is run by Costa Rica Expeditions, a specialist in nature and birding tours, but you can simply stroll through the exceptional garden to spot many species of hummingbirds as well as agoutis, coatis, and other furry critters. If you tire of the tranquility, it's only a ten-minute walk to Santa Elena, the nearest town, for dinner. Although, there's really no need: If you're in the mood for international fusion cuisine (roasted leek quiche; beef tenderloin in red-wine reduction; almond chicken curry with coconut rice), the on-site Garden Restaurant is a fine choice.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Oxygen Jungle Villas
Camino de Sueños
Uvita de Osa , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 8322 4773
info@oxygenjunglevillas.com
www.oxygenjunglevillas.com

The final part of your journey to Oxygen Jungle Villas—on two miles of bone-jarring gravel marked "4x4 only"—resembles a rite of passage, but initiation brings profound rewards: 12 teak-and-glass villas overlooking the Pacific from a private mountaintop jungle preserve. The glass-walled accommodations use a clever interplay of jungle, bamboo screens, and curtains to allow guests to withdraw from the world in airy privacy. In fact, although nothing at this couples-only resort enforces retreat—there are no silence gardens or scheduled meditations—stepping out of the everyday world is the clear goal here. The hotel's lack of telephones, room service, and many classic amenities enhances its secluded setting—although the five-course work of art served as dinner may well define a new type of amenity. You will likely see only the same two staffers during your stay, but their deft and relaxed expertise need no improving on. Balinese design elements—a finely carved couch by the pool, elegant bangles on the sun umbrellas—are wrapped in a sleek shell almost spartan in its refinement, with few fussy details to divert from the pursuit of inner peace. A dip in the green stone-lined infinity pool, bordered by statues of the Buddha, is an act of meditation in itself.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Pacuare Jungle Lodge
Río Pacuare near Turrialba, Cartago
Costa Rica
Tel: 800 963 1195 (toll-free)
Tel: 506 2225 3939
www.pacuarelodge.com

The notion of a jungle lodge reachable solely by a full-day raft trip evokes images of buggy rusticity. Not so when you're traveling with Aventuras Naturales to the rafting company's deluxe Pacuare Jungle Lodge, perched high above the Pacuare River and surrounded by otherwise impenetrable tropical rainforest. Sure, you need to negotiate a narrow suspension footbridge to reach your room. And did we mention that there's no electricity? Instead, candles and lanterns add firelight romance to the 19 thatched-roof bungalows. All have net-draped four-poster beds, private decks with sliding glass walls to help keep bugs at bay, and two bathrooms (one inside with copper fixtures, plus an outdoor shower). The Costa Rican fusion fare served at the restaurant is best enjoyed with a fine wine from the lodge's cellar. And when you retire, there's no need to set an alarm clock: You'll be awakened in the morning—guaranteed—by the stentorian roar of howler monkeys in nearby treetops.—Christopher P. Baker

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Springs Resort & Spa
La Fortuna , Alajuela
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2401 3313
reservations@thespringscostarica.com
www.thespringscostarica.com

The six-story Springs Resort & Spa in the Northern Lowlands has a grandstand view of the Arenal Volcano from each of its 42 hardwood-clad guest rooms and villas. There are hammocks on the broad balconies, whirlpool tubs in the marble bathrooms, raised king-size beds, and flat-screen TVs angled above picture windows with volcano views. Look familiar? Episodes of The Bachelor were filmed here in 2011. But the real prime-time attraction is the resort's Arenal Waterfall Gardens, a series of landscaped thermal hot-spring pools connected by waterslides. Considering that there's also a large game room, a sushi bar, a formal restaurant, a full-service spa, and several swim-up bars, it may be a struggle to motivate oneself to venture off-campus and explore nearby Lake Arenal and its neighboring volcanoes. Thankfully, there's a wildcat refuge close to home, where the hotel runs a riverside outdoor activity center.—Christopher P. Baker

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort
La Fortuna
Costa Rica
Tel: 877 277 8291 (toll-free)
Tel: 506 519 1900
sales@tabacon.com
www.tabacon.com

If you're seeking some serious R&R rather than an eco-lodge, this 114-room resort near Volcán Arenal in the Northern Lowlands is perfect for a spa vacation au naturel, thanks to its natural hot spring–fed pools. There are waterfalls where you can get an outdoor massage; if that's too exposed, the Grand Spa can arrange an alfresco rubdown hidden among tropical flowers. There's the requisite swim-up bar at the main pool, but El Palenque, down the hill in a secluded corner of the hot springs gardens, is a less-crowded watering hole, and all the better for it. The Los Tucanes restaurant serves international fare (roasted salmon with truffle-oil mashed potatoes) and opens onto the pool landscaped with boulders and tropical foliage. The rooms are luxurious, with Georgian-style dark-wood furnishings made by local craftspeople and modern touches such as 40-inch flat-screen TVs. Junior suites have private gardens with whirlpool tubs, but superior rooms have the best views of the volcano.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Villa Caletas
La Costanera Sur
Playa Herradura , Puntarenas
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2637 0505
reservations@villacaletas.com
www.villacaletas.com

At this cluster of gingerbread-trimmed villas perched on a hillside north of Jacó, you'll be hard-pressed to find somewhere that doesn't have a breathtaking view of the Pacific. French owner Denis Roy, a former interior designer for Saudi nobility, was liberal in his use of urns, fountains, and columns on the property; antiques paired with terra-cotta tile floors, rich fabrics, and wrought-iron furniture create a distinctly French colonial feel in the 54 guest rooms. The formal Mirador restaurant serves French–Costa Rican cuisine and is a popular hangout for well-heeled weekenders from San José. Its sister establishment, the open-air Anfiteatro restaurant, overlooks a small Greek-style amphitheater that hosts New Age, jazz, and classical concerts. A mile below is your very own private beach (alas, mostly rocks and pebbles) and club with sun beds and a snack bar; beach shuttles leave the hotel on the hour. An infinity pool and Serenity Spa round out the facilities. Even if you're not staying here, consider stopping for lunch on your way to or from Manuel Antonio National Park.—Updated by Christopher P. Baker

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Villa Decary
Nuevo Arenal , Alajuela
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2694 4330
info@villadecary.com
www.villadecary.com

Bird watching doesn't get any easier than this. Early each morning, owners Jeff Crandall and Bill Hemmer put out pieces of fresh fruit in the garden, prompting a flurry of activity as rainbow-billed toucans and all manner of other tropical birds arrive for the feast. Your breakfast arrives after theirs—a different offering every day, ranging from crepes filled with fresh herbs to pancakes topped with homemade papaya-ginger compote. The five simply furnished yet colorful rooms in this former coffee farm have huge picture windows to maximize the view out over silvery Lake Arenal. Three villas on the hillside are a good choice if you want more privacy. They don't serve dinner here, but there are several places to eat within walking distance.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Xandari Resort & Spa
Alajuela
Costa Rica
Tel: 506 2443 2020
info@xandari.com
www.xandari.com/ResortSpa

The 40-acre resort with views of the Central Valley also has a greenhouse, an orchard, a small farm, and a waterfall. "Spotless villas" have high-curved wood ceilings, private enclosed gardens, and terraces. Guests enjoy an international menu of fresh fruits and vegetables in the restaurant or on its terrace overlooking the hillside. Staff "are so polite."

(23 villas)

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.