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Where to Stay in San Jose
Most of San Jose’s hotels are located in and around the fairly compact downtown area, situated in the center of the city. Several of the most prominent attractions, restaurants and shops are spread throughout downtown, and with few exceptions, each hotel in this area is within easy walking distance of at least a few points of interest. Hotels in the downtown area cater to a mix of business travelers and tourists, and despite the optimal location, you can find some surprisingly cheap hotel deals in San Jose by checking there.
Beyond downtown, the next largest hotel district is in Alajuela, just north of the airport and about 20 minutes northwest of downtown by car. While there are fewer attractions in the immediate area, some of the more luxurious hotels in Alajuela qualify as destinations by themselves. Closer suburbs with a variety of lodging choices include San Antonio, Escazu, Santa Ana and San Pedro. Staying in these less centrally located neighborhoods allows you to avoid dense traffic when traveling to outlying areas, and provides more peaceful surroundings late at night.
San Jose Hotel Tips
If you’re willing to consider accommodations in any part of the San Jose metro area, your options range from exclusive luxury resorts to budget motels and simple hostels. Lavish properties with impressive amenities are often available for less per night than they would command in the U.S., but if you don’t necessarily want all the frills, look into San Jose’s smaller, independently operated hotels. What they may lack in full-scale amenities, they often make up for in character, serenity and overall value. Many operate as traditional hotels, but the smallest of these establishments have the personal touch of bed and breakfast inns.
Because so many of San Jose’s finer hotels are intimate properties, you might find your selection limited to more basic accommodations if you book late. Make room reservations far in advance if you want something special.
San Jose Hotel Recommendations
If you desire the pedestrian-friendly convenience of the downtown area, the Clarion Amon Plaza is ideally located in the scenic Barrio Amon neighborhood. In addition to its full range of modern amenities, it boasts an upscale on-site casino and a lovely outdoor café. A nearby alternative, Hotel Presidente, offers a few expanded Jacuzzi suites and another large Jacuzzi tub on the roof.
The Hotel Grano de Oro, in the Paseo Colon area of San Jose, is an excellent choice for a small, independent hotel. Each of its 40 rooms and suites is individually appointed, the on-site restaurant serves some of the city’s most sought-after cuisine and the views of the distant volcanoes are spectacular.
The city’s most extravagant hotels, however, are situated near the airport. The Marriot Costa Rica Hotel is a prime example; its impeccably designed rooms, resort-style recreation amenities, first-rate concierge service and trio of fine dining restaurants make it a contender for San Jose’s best hotel. Its toughest competition may come from the Finca Rosa Blanca Country Inn, an exclusive boutique property with a full-service day spa, a Jacuzzi in every room and an adjacent coffee plantation with special tours for guests.
San Jose Transportation
Consider carefully whether to rent a car after your flight to San Jose, as there are several key factors to consider. If you plan on making numerous excursions away from the city center to explore the forests, volcanoes and beaches in the more remote parts of the country, you’ll have much greater independence with your own car than you will traveling with a guided tour company. On the other hand, if you expect to spend most of your time in the city, you can more affordably explore San Jose on foot and via taxi without sacrificing any convenience. In fact, avoiding a rental car is generally more convenient when staying downtown, where traffic is dense and parking is at a premium. In the busiest districts, walking is often the fastest way to get anywhere.
Taxis are much cheaper than they are in the U.S., and most drivers accept U.S. dollars. It is common for taxis in San Jose to have meters, but some drivers may want to negotiate a flat rate with you depending on your destination. If you can’t find an available taxi on the street, most hotels, restaurants and night clubs will be happy to call one for you.
An even cheaper but less direct way to get around is by bus. Multiple private bus companies currently provide transportation throughout the area; ask your hotel’s front desk for information on nearby routes and fares.
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