Costa Rica Hotels – Where to Stay

Written by Luisa Pannozzi

Recently I travelled to Costa Rica to visit some of the best hotels and resorts in the country. The joke in the group was how I kept calling this country an island. An island it is not. I think I just got that “island-vibe” because it had all the makings of one: friendly locals, fresh food, hot weather and a geography unlike the concrete towers I see when I’m home.

Costa Rica, however, is in a class of its own. Not only does it have a unique location in the Pacific Ring of fire, with borders on the Caribbean and Pacific (and active volcanoes in between), but it has immense biodiversity. You don’t visit Costa Rica to stay on a resort, you visit to play amongst the trees in tropical rainforests, rappel down or zip line above waterfalls, and hop from one beach town to another. So when you’re looking for a place to stay, a great resort should make it easy for you to connect with nature and yourself.

These are few resorts we love and why!


In San Jose:

Real Intercontinental

The Real Intercontinental is centrally located in one of the most exclusive and trendy areas of San José, the city of Escazu. The hotel sits in front of Multiplaza, the city’s largest shopping complex, and located only 15 minutes from downtown and 20 minutes from Juan Santamaría International Airport. The hotel makes a perfect starting point to your trip to Costa Rica. Restaurants on site range from steak houses to Italian to offer you a variety of both international and local cuisine.

Interesting facts:

  • Barack Obama stayed in the Presidential Suite in this hotel
  • It has the largest spa in Central America

In Arenal:

Arenal Nayara Hotel & Gardens

This resort is nestled in the rainforest, with impeccable grounds and exciting future growth planned. Currently, guests can enjoy a wine bar and tapas with room-key operated wine pouring, so you can taste multiple wines before selecting one with your dinner. It also has a beautiful floating pavilion, essentially a treehouse, to practice yoga. Once back in your room, you can enjoy a private, but open-air, shower, so you never have to miss a minute of the lush outdoors. In the next year, an additional 2,000 sq. ft of space is being built to cater to families. The space will be occupied by luxury tented lodges (think “glamping”), complete with a family club. What’s the difference between a kids club and family club? In their Family Club, the activities offered are aimed for everyone, of all ages, to enjoy together.

The Springs Resort

With a large terrace as the focal point of this resort’s dining area, views of the Arenal volcano are unrivaled. No matter which restaurant you choose to rest at, you can also order from any menu on site. If you’re planning a large family vacation, this resort is the only one in Costa Rica right now with 3-bedroom suites. They also boast an outdoor activity centre and wildlife refuge, in fact howler monkeys and toucans can often be spotted around the property or dining with guests.

Interesting fact:

  • Will Smith, Sharon Stone and Jay Z have stayed here

Tabacon Grand Spa Thermal Resort

This resort may arguably be the most well-known in Costa Rica. What makes it so different? To start, it sits at the base of the Arenal volcano, and the naturally-occurring hot springs are a unique combination of volume, temperature and mineral content, found nowhere else in the world. The bathroom showers in all the rooms are thermal water as well. Secondly, you’ll find the number one rated spa in Central America. Make your appointments in advance if you plan to visit in high season. If you’re a guest here, you can access the thermal springs two hours earlier than visitors and guests over the age of 18 have exclusive access to the Shangri-La Gardens, a beautiful garden oasis with private thermal pools, bar and complimentary cabanas.


In Rio Perdido:

Rio Perdido Resort

This resort is literally located on “the lost river”, in other words in the middle of nowhere. In Costa Rica, however, the middle of nowhere is the middle of dry forest on the Pacific side, where forest, waterfalls and white-faced monkeys abound. There are only 20 bungalows located at this resort, and each one is nestled in the forest so it feels as though you’re staying in a treehouse. This is “off the beaten path” at its best. They are also focused on wellness and adventure, and because you’re quite far from towns and tourist adventure centres, they bring the activities to you, including: zip lining, mountain biking, river tubing, or you can simply enjoy time at their spa or thermal river at the base of the resort. If you choose to spend your time at one of their three pools instead, they each have thermal mineral waters as well.


In Tamarindo:

Capitan Suizo

Capitan Suizo is a beachfront boutique hotel with two room styles: standard room or bungalow. There are 35 units in this environmentally-conscious resort, all located just steps to Tamarindo Beach. The garden is the true treasure here. The lush grounds of this property are home to native trees, howler monkeys, iguanas, collared anteaters, armadillos and geckos. Nature lovers will adore this place, and its open-air restaurant and beachfront pool, but adventure-seekers will feel at home here too. When the waves come in mid-day, it’s the perfect place to mingle with the surfers or perhaps try it for yourself.

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