The Best Hotels in Costa Rica

The variety of hotel options in Costa Rica rivals the country’s famous biological diversity. Whether you go high or low, breezy hammock or bazillion thread-count sheets, these one-of-a-kind accommodations help nature lovers embrace the pura vida lifestyle.

Peninsula Papagayo, Guanacaste Province, Papagayo Peninsula, 50104, Costa Rica
Occupying 28 ocean-front acres on the northwest coast of the Bay of Culebra, Andaz Peninsual Papagayo evokes its natural surroundings at every turn. Costa Rican architect Ronald Zürcher took an organic approach to the design of the buildings, modeling rooflines on shapes found in the shells and cocoons that appear on local shores and in the jungle canopy. Even standard rooms—which are sprinkled over a hillside that’s bookended with beaches—elicit a strong sense of place with hand-carved artifacts, forest views, and walk-in rain showers that open to large balconies, blurring the line between indoors and outside. (Luxury seekers can upgrade to a suite to take advantage of soaking tubs and private plunge pools.) For the actively inclined, there’s a golf course, tennis course, and access to nearby zip-lining, though no one would blame you for kicking your feet up by a pool overlooking the bay; there’s an adults-only infinity pool as well. Ostra serves fresh seafood caught in local waters, while Chao Pescao offers the ultimate expression of pura vida with tapas and small plates, a first-rate mixologist, and live music and dancing on Saturday nights.
Noreste de Centro de la Fortuna de San Carlos 13 Km, Provincia de Alajuela, Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica
On the west side of Arenal Volcano, this 900-acre tropical reserve was a labor of love for owner and architect Jaime Mikowski, who spent years planting acres of native plants and coaxing the land’s natural mineral springs into a river that now flows throughout the property, spilling over into dozens of waterfalls and pools that range from 72 to 105 degrees. Spacious rooms have marble floors and streamlined furnishings; splurge on a suite, which features a private terrace and a Jacuzzi tub—a little superfluous considering all the other options for soaking in warm water here, but who’s complaining? There are also five swimming pools, one with a swim-up bar and waterslide, and a spa comprising 12 bungalows with treatments that all include, you guessed it, a dip in a thermal spring-fed tub. While the property is also open to day trippers, guests of the resort have exclusive access to Shangri-La Gardens, an adults-only lounge area with pools, cabanas, and a folliage-filled bar.
9 Km Oeste y km 4 Norte del centro de la Fortuna, Alajuela Province, La Fortuna, 21007, Costa Rica
The 165-acre Springs Resort & Spa sits 1,000 feet above the Arenal Valley, higher than any other resort in the area and affording each one of its 47 polished-wood guest rooms commanding views of the Arenal Volcano and surrounding countryside. Impressive as those vistas are, the luxury resort’s biggest draw is its 28 mineral thermal pools, which wind through four lush acres. The setting is undeniably romantic—the resort was featured in an episode of The Bachelor—but families are welcome, with activities for kids of all ages. Club Rio, on the resort’s half-mile of river frontage, offers tubing, kayaking, mountain biking, and horseback riding; there’s also a wildlife preserve for rescued native animals, including monkeys, ocelots, jaguarundis, sloths, and a puma. Five restaurants (and five bars) mean there are plenty of options, from casual poolside dining to tasting-menu elegance.
Puntarenas Province, Jaco, Costa Rica
Interior designer and owner Denis Roy eschewed the palapa-inspired elegance employed by so many Costa Rican resorts in favor of a tropical take on European influences—Victorian architecture, French colonial touches, and Grecian columns among them—creating a resort like no other on the country’s west coast. Owing to its vantage point 1,100 feet above the entrance to the Gulf of Nicoya, the views of the rain forest, ocean, and sunsets are stunning, especially from the infinity pool. Rooms in the main building are fairly basic, but suites and villas offer more luxurious touches, such as Jacuzzis, private ocean-facing terraces, and plunge pools. The property has its own beach (with sun beds, showers, and a snack bar), but since it’s at the bottom of a steep hill, the resort provides hourly transfers. Retreat to the open-air yoga studio, then head to the bar atop the Greek amphitheater to linger over a martini at the nightly sunset happy hour.
Rio Perdido, Provincia de Guanacaste, Bagaces, Costa Rica
The first thing guests notice as they approach the 600-acre Rio Perdido ecolodge is a large wood-and-steel rotunda that, from a distance, resembles a flying saucer, an award-winning design that houses the resort’s open-air restaurant, bar, and spa. The bungalows are just as stylish: 30 prefabricated cubes are suspended on seven pylons (no trees were cleared during the building process) and feature an airy, modern aesthetic, with twin rolling beds, brass fixtures, and terraces with hammocks sited for gentle breezes. Larger suites are moodier and more romantic, with walls of singed wood and volcanic-stone floor tiles. Soak in the property’s natural springs, which are heated by the activity of nearby Miravalles Volcano, then choose your own adventure. If you’ve worked up an appetite hiking, tubing, or canyoneering, the restaurant serves satisfying Costa Rican casados (rice dishes) and ceviches, which guests can arrange to enjoy from a platform that sits 160 feet above the river that gives the property its name.
Playa Conchal G Cabo Velas, Provincia de Guanacaste, 50308, Costa Rica
Hugging the golden crescent of Playa Conchal on Costa Rica’s northern Pacific Coast, the 2,400-acre Westin Playa Conchal is an all-inclusive (Westin’s only one) that has put great care into navigating the needs of both families and guests who prefer a more peaceful experience. A kid-friendly club features designated suites, all-day assistance of a “family concierge,” and exclusive activities, while the adults-only Royal Beach Club is almost a resort-within-a-resort, with its own lounge and private pool. Both have access to the greater resort, including the huge lagoon-style pool with swim-up bar, Jacuzzi, 10 restaurants and five bars, and the fitness club. All of the rooms and suites have balconies or terraces, and the Royal Beach Club suites also have a large outdoor tub. Guests also have access to the par-71 golf course designed by Robert Trent Jones, Jr.
700 meters west from Bridgestone/Firestone La Ribera de Belen Heredia, Heredia, Belén, 40703, Costa Rica
Renowned Costa Rican architect Ronald Zürcher looked to his country’s colonial past when designing this hacienda-style property—witness its central courtyard, arched doorways, and terra-cotta roofs. Set amid a 30-acre coffee plantation just outside the capital city of San Jose, the hotel’s 308 traditional accommodations follow suit with dark wood furnishings, but a modern aesthetic pervades renovated guest rooms with streamlined furniture, intricately patterned bathroom tiles, and expansive views that extend from green lawns to forested mountains and urban skyline; some include small balconies that overlook the hotel’s two pools. On-site dining options include gourmet takes on Costa Rican fare at Hacienda Kitchen, Peruvian specialties at La Isabela, and fresh-made sushi at La Castilla, as well as a sports bar and café. The open-air great room invites reading and quiet conversations, but if you’re up for something a little more energetic, there are tennis courts, a driving range, a fitness center, and invigorating coffee scrubs at the spa.
Junction 4.6km Route 618 turn right onto, Road to Arenas del Mar, Puntarenas Province, Manuel Antonio, 60601, Costa Rica
With its pristine beaches, emerald lagoons, and wildlife-filled jungles, Manuel Antonio National Park is considered one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders. There’s no better place from which to explore it than the five-star Arenas del Mar, an 11-acre hotel and reserve that’s set atop rain-forested cliffs overlooking the Pacific and delivers just the right amount of luxury within walking distance of the park. (Just don’t be surprised to cross paths with the occasional monkey, sloth, crab, or iguana.) The rooms on the upper level have ocean views and feature hot tubs on large terraces; beachfront rooms are a particularly good choice for families with children thanks to easy access to the lower pool and the casual Playitas Restaurant. But the resort is also an unexpected culinary beacon, serving sustainable dock-to-dish seafood caught by local fisherman that morning and certified gluten-free options alongside traditional Costa Rican specialties.
708 Alajuela Province alajuela, Provincia de Alajuela, Bajos del Toro, 20101, Costa Rica
The scenic drive to Poás National Park alone makes a stay at El Silencio Lodge worth it, but you don’t need to leave the grounds to see the country’s largest active volcano. The 16 Zen cottages enjoy serene views of the steaming mass from private decks and also have gas fireplaces, outdoor whirlpool tubs, king beds, and an earth-hued color scheme that evokes the tropical setting in streamlined luxury. Fruits and vegetables from a 5,000-square-foot organic greenhouse on site are used to make continental fare (osso buco risotto, parmesan-crusted chicken) and Costa Rican favorites (cassava croquettes, tamarind pork), which are served in two elegant glass-walled restaurants. An open-air yoga studio invites you to reflect on the beauty of your surroundings, while locally sourced treatments at the spa incorporate healing ingredients like Costa Rican clay and chocolate. Those who prefer more active leisure can join the designated eco-concierge for guided hikes along the property’s private cloud forest trails, spotting waterfalls, hummingbirds, and seasonal quetzals along the way.
La Paz Waterfall, Alajuela Province, Costa Rica
La Paz Waterfall Gardens is Costa Rica’s most-visited private nature reserve and animal sanctuary. While walking the park’s two miles of perfectly designed trails, you’ll happen on exhibits that showcase jungle cats, butterflies, monkeys, snakes, and frogs. The hummingbird park, home to every color of the diminutive birds, is particularly enchanting. La Paz’s five waterfalls are the main event. Suspended observation bridges were designed to offer breathtaking experiences, and allow you to snap pictures under the waterfalls themselves. Notably, all materials used in building the platforms and trails were carried in by foot to reduce negative environmental impact.
Private Rd, Provincia de Puntarenas, Uvita de Osa, Costa Rica
Tucked away in a small village in southern Costa Rica, Kurà Design Villas is an eight-suite eco-friendly resort where the hummingbirds outnumber the people and a large row of solar panels in the pool area heat shower water and light lamps throughout the resort. In true design hotel style, everything is tastefully done. The eight suites feature minimalist open-floor plans with glass walls, stone showers, and sleek wood platform beds, plus spacious private terraces with oversize hammocks overlooking the land and sea. Though the resort doesn’t cater to the budget crowd, your money goes a long way. A daily shuttle takes guests to and from the beach and off-site tours arranged through the hotel’s concierge; breakfast is complimentary; and when the weather is less than ideal, the resort organizes rainy-day activities that include cooking demonstrations and excursions to the local food market. When the sun re-emerges, don’t miss sightings of colorful birds as well as the occasional whale’s tail from the infinity pool.
On a quiet white-sand beach within the gates of the historic Hacienda Pinilla ranch, just a few miles from the bustling surf town of Tamarindo, the JW Marriott is an ideal choice for families, offering a wide range of on-site activities for every fitness level—think surfing, volleyball, golf, hiking, kayaking, horseback riding, and the list goes on. The kids’ club provides organized daily adventures for children ages four to 12 while parents steal a few relaxing hours at the oceanfront infinity pool or indulging in beachside massages at the spa. Five restaurants and two bars serve everything from casual burgers for picky eaters to sushi, Asian fusion, and contemporary Costa Rican for those with more refined palates. And all of the 310 guest rooms have balconies or terraces with ocean, garden, or pool views, as well as marble bathrooms with oversize tubs for maximum comfort. Spring for a spacious one-bedroom suite, which has a separate living-room area—a great plus if your little ones are early risers.
More from AFAR
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
AFAR Journeys
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: Europe
Journeys: United States
Journeys: Sports + Adventure