The Hostel Toruma (Avenida Central, Calles 29/31, tel. 506/2234-8186, www.hosteltoruma.com , $13 pp dorm; $36 s/d shared bath; $35 s, $55 d private bath), a sister to Hostel Pangea, is a beautiful old colonial-style structure (formerly the home of a Costa Rican president) with segregated dormitories accommodating 95 beds in 17 well-kept rooms, plus seven private rooms with double beds, folding couch, flat-screen TVs, and private baths. It has laundry facilities, a restaurant, Internet access, a swimming pool, parking, and airport shuttles. Rates include breakfast.
Hostel Bekuo (Avenida 8, Calles 39/41, tel. 506/2234-1091, www.hostelbekuo.com , $13 pp dorm, $32 s/d shared bath, $38.50–45 s/d private bath) is a conversion of a beautiful 1950s modernist home with shiny hardwood floors, clean modern bathrooms, a breeze-swept Internet and TV lounge, plus pool table and communal kitchen. It serves free sangría and has a weekly barbecue. Walls of glass open to a garden. It has male, female, and mixed dorms, plus private rooms.
One block east, and also a winner, Hostal Casa Yoses (Avenida 8, Calles 41/43, tel. 506/2234-5486, www.casayoses.com , $13 pp dorm, $19 s or $32 d shared bath, $32 s/d private bath and TV) occupies a colonial mansion and has dorms and private rooms, plus heaps of services including games and WiFi.
Opened in 2010, Hostel El Museo (tel. 506/2221-7515, www.hostelelmuseo.com , $13 dorm, from $30 s/d private room) has the advantage of a great location next to the TrenUrbano track and directly opposite the National Museum. Opt for the upper dorm rooms, rather than the dingy basement dorm. One room is private. It has a kitchenette and a small TV lounge.
Bamboo and rattan abounds in the Ara Macao Inn (Calle 27, Avenidas Central/2, tel. 506/2233-2742, www.aramacaoinn.com , $45 s, $55 d), a restored early-20th-century house in Barrio La California. The four sun-filled standards and seven triples have polished hardwood floors, ceiling fans, cable TV, and radios. Some are compact, pleasantly furnished apartments; triples have coffeemakers, refrigerators, and microwaves. Rates include tax and breakfast, served in a breeze-swept patio corridor.
Kap’s Place (Calle 19, Avenidas 11/13, tel. 506/2221-1169, www.kapsplace.com , $25–85 s, $35–95 d) is a clean, charming guesthouse with 23 rooms (including six hostel-type rooms; three with shared bathrooms; and 12 with full kitchens) in various adjoining buildings, on a tranquil street in Barrio Aranjuez, a 20-minute walk from downtown. Although rooms vary widely, all are decorated in lively colors and have cable TV and telephones, and there’s free Internet and WiFi access. Two small rooms are for one person only. A lovely covered patio garners sunlight and has hammocks. No meals are served, but guests have kitchen privileges, and there’s a kids’ playroom. Karla Arias, the erudite Tica owner, speaks fluent English and French. No unregistered guests are permitted.
Across the street, the rambling Hotel Aranjuez (Calle 19, Avenidas 11/13, tel. 506/2256-1825, www.hotelaranjuez.com , $22 s or $27 d shared bath, $30 s or $44 d standard, $32 s or $48 d superior) has 23 eclectically decorated rooms rich with hardwoods and all with cable TV, phones, and hair dryers. It’s formed of four contiguous houses, each with its own personality. Together, they operate like a hostel. It has Internet, and an airy garden lounge.
Boutique Hotel Casa Las Orquideas (tel. 506/2283-0095, www.lasorquideashotel.com , $60 s, $70 d), on Avenida Central in Los Yoses, is an attractive option done up in pea-green and tropical murals. The 18 rooms have tile floors and New Mexico–style bedspreads. Upstairs rooms have more light plus king-size beds. There’s a small yet elegant restaurant, plus secure parking.
The lovely and unpretentious Hôtel Le Bergerac (Calle 35, Avenida Central, tel. 506/2234-7850, www.bergerachotel.com , $80 s or $90 d standard, $105 s or $115 d superior, $125 s or $135 d deluxe) is a pretty mansion-turned-hotel in Los Yoses, with views south toward the Cordillera Talamanca. The English-owned hotel plays up a French theme, and has the feel of an intimate bed-and-breakfast. The 19 rooms in three buildings (five in the original home, reached via a sweeping spiral staircase), some with tiny patio gardens, include cable TV, direct-dial phones, WiFi, and safes. Rooms vary in size and feature hardwood floors and classical furniture. It boasts the Cyrano Restaurant, secure parking, a travel agency, Internet room, and a conference room. Rates include full breakfast. A garden is a delight for relaxing, but light sleepers might find noise from a nearby disco a problem on weekend nights.
In a similar vein, the Italian-run La Giaconda House Hotel (Avenida Central, Calle 27, tel. 506/2248-9422, www.costaricahousehotel.com ) offers a viable alternative at similar rates.
A stone’s throw away, the Casa 69 (Avenida Central, Calles 25/27, tel. 506/2256-8879, www.casa69.com , $40–70 s/d) is a graceful conversion of a centenary mansion and now offers tasteful furnishings and king-size beds in some rooms. It has a rooftop terrace. Traffic noise is an issue here.
In San Pedro, the modestly appealing Hotel Arte Milvia (tel. 506/2225-4543, www.hotelmilvia.com , $59 s, $69 d) has three spacious, individually styled rooms in the restored turn-of-the-20th-century wooden home, plus six downstairs rooms in a contemporary add-on built around a tiny garden courtyard (noise from adjoining rooms can be a problem). All have king-size beds and tiny TVs; bathrooms feature hand-painted decorative tiles. There’s a dining room, lounge with TV and VCR, and boutique. Lively pop-art works by owner Florencia Urbia, a well-known artist, adorn the walls. Rates include taxes and continental breakfast.
A more appealing option, the Hotel 1492 Jade y Oro (Avenida 1 #2985, Calles 31/33, tel. 506/2225-3752, www.hotel1492.com , $60 s or $70 d standard, $80 s/d deluxe, $90 s/d junior suite), in the quiet residential neighborhood of Barrio Escalante, is a beautiful colonial-style residence boasting 10 handsomely appointed rooms (three are junior suites) with hardwood floors, private bath, hot water, ceiling fan, telephone, and cable TV. Most rooms have windows that open to small gardens, and there’s a patio garden done up in Tico fashion where a happy hour of wine and cheese is hosted nightly. The handsome lounge has a soaring ceiling and fireplace. Rates include Tico breakfast.
A standout hotel is the members-only (yet walk-ins allowed) Hotel M (tel. 506/2253-8345 or U.S. tel. 800/304-1625, www.hotelmcostarica.com , $150–250 s/d), 100 meters north and 200 meters west of Mall San Pedro, in Barrio Dent. A tasteful restoration of a huge modernist 1950s home has produced a luxury hotel with 10 individually styled rooms. It has a “Sports Viewing Room,” bar, gym, 12-person whirlpool tub, and solarium. However, it aims for an uninhibited adult crowd and can get very risqué!
Around the corner, and also offering a classy contemporary theme, the low-rise Boutique Hotel Jade (tel. 506/2224-2445, www.hotelboutiquejade.com , $110 s or $120 d standard, $145 s or $155 d suite) has 30 spacious, air-conditioned, carpeted, executive-style rooms with rich and lively decor, handsome fittings, cable TVs, desks, phones, modems, minibars, vanity chairs and sofa, and spacious showers. Six are wheelchair-accessible, and there are some nonsmoking rooms. Junior suites are truly classy. Murals adorn the corridor walls. There’s a small lounge, a rear garden with a beautiful swimming pool and fountain, and a café. The highlight, however, is the sophisticated Jürgen’s Restaurant, and there’s a cafeteria and a gift store.