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San Jose Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Buena Vista; Our Best Recommendation For An Alajuela (SJO Airport) Hotel For Your First Or Last Night In Costa Rica

San Jose Hotel Recommendation: Hotel Buena Vista; Our Best Recommendation For An Alajuela (SJO Airport) Hotel For Your First Or Last Night In Costa Rica

NOTE: The content on this page was last updated on October 2nd, 2017.

Looking for Hotel Buena Vista discounts? As a thank you for visiting us, WE OFFER TRAVELLERS FREE ACCESS TO A 25% DISCOUNT OFF HOTEL BUENA VISTA’S RATES when booking with the hotel directly using our “Pura Vida! eh? Exclusive Promotion” code. Click here for more information and/or to obtain the hotel promo code. Con mucho gusto (you’re welcome) and pura vida! 🙂

Hotel Buena Vista
Nikki; taking in the beautiful view at Hotel Buena Vista!


So you’re coming to Costa Rica. You’ve selected your destinations, your tours are lined up, and your transportation services are ready to go. The only trip item left to decide on is where you will spend the first and/or last night upon entry into or exit from the country, but there’s no need to put much effort into this decision–a simple “airport hotel” will do, right?

Well, that depends. If you plan for your trip experience to begin the day after you arrive, once you have de-boarded the plane, made it through customs, picked up your checked luggage, caught up on sleep, and are en route to your first exotic destination, then yes, a typical “airport hotel” will certainly do. For those travellers who aim to soak up as much of this beautiful country as it has to offer, your tico journey begins the moment your airline pilot welcomes you to Costa Rica over the on-board flight intercom. Bienvenido a Costa Rica! Your trip of a lifetime awaits you.

In order to make use of every minute you have in the country (who doesn’t want to maximize their precious vacation time, anyway?) we recommend that travellers choose to spend their first and/or last night in the country at a valuable accommodation option that embodies much of what Costa Rica is all about (why leave this experience to Day #2 when it can be had on Day #1?). And, no, a “valuable” accommodation does not need to mean an “expensive” accommodation (cost does not automatically equal value these days), rather one that offers that extra something (beyond proximity to the airport) to either welcome travellers to the country with a smile or else send them back home with a longing to return.


So what’s our best recommendation? Hotel Buena Vista, located just outside of the town of Alajuela and not far from Costa Rica’s popular SJO (Juan Santamaria) International Airport. The following is the property owners’ statement about their hotel:

Hotel Buena Vista is a beautiful spanish colonial style resort. It is the only hotel in the area atop a mountain with a 360º panoramic view of 3 volcanoes, Poas, Barva and Irazú. The spectacular view also includes lush tropical forest, coffee plantations, and the capital city in the central valley below. At 4200 Ft. (1280 meters) above sea level, we have a very pleasant temperature year round of 65º (18ºC) at night to 80º (26ºC) during the day. The hotel has an excellent restaurant, bar, pool, nature trail, gift shop and amazing gardens, etc. Our services include free airport transportation, private tours, free tropical breakfast, room service, wifi, masseuse, laundry service and indoor or pool side dining. [Source: Hotel Buena Vista]

Beyond the hotel’s statement quoted above, here’s why we love to recommend Hotel Buena Vista to travellers:

The hotel’s location is a great one

Located an approximate fifteen minute drive from the SJO Airport, this hotel is removed from the hustle and bustle of both downtown San Jose and the town of Alajuela. Set in the mountains overlooking the central valley, the hotel’s views (both during the day and at night) are hard to beat. The hotel is also incredibly quiet–no insanely loud planes flying overhead (which can be an issue for those staying at hotels located directly across from the airport), leaving visitors to enjoy the country’s natural soundtrack.

The hotel includes numerous freebies with their room rates

In addition to a great night’s stay (the bed in the king bed junior suite room we stayed in was one of the most comfortable we have ever slept in throughout our travels around the country), visitors receive a complimentary breakfast, free SJO airport transportation, and access to the hotel’s on-site trails. Sure, these amenities may be standard offerings at many hotels these days, however here’s where Hotel Buena Vista goes above and beyond. The hotel’s airport shuttle service does not run on a particular schedule, instead they allow travellers to choose their own preferred departure time ensuring that visitors arrive at the airport according to their own travel plans. The on-site trail system is more than simply a flattened path crossing the hotel’s property–it is a nicely designed trail of plants (coffee, anyone?), trees (can you spot the chewing gum tree?), and flowers, supplemented by informational signs that educate trail visitors along the way. As for breakfast, although a typical continental breakfast is served, the hotel is kind enough to offer snacks to go for those travellers who leave during the early morning hours (such as those travellers who have tour reservations requiring early morning pick-ups)–a nice and much appreciated touch.

Hotel Buena Vista
View of the onsite restaurant from above

The hotel is veggie-friendly

Given that Ricky and I are both vegetarian, we are always pleasantly surprised when a hotel makes an effort to offer vegetarian-friendly menu options beyond the typical casado vegetariano (vegetarian casado–a plate consisting of rice, beans, avocado, mixed vegetables, plantain, and often a fried egg). Although Hotel Buena Vista does offer casado vegetariano, it is one of only a few hotels we have visited that opts to include a protein-rich soy mixture to the plate, adding to the quality and value of the dish. Vegetarian guests can also try the hotel’s vegetarian Buena Vista burger, feast on a vegetarian sandwich, or choose from a number of other dishes included on the full menu.

The hotel operates from a green state of mind

For one, we love that visitors are required to use their room key to power lights in their hotel room (by hanging the room key on a switch that operates the room lights). Doing so prevents the overuse of electricity–just one of the ways the hotel aims to encourage its guests to conserve energy during their stay. We also love that Hotel Buena Vista practices the following:

  • The recycling of paper, glass, aluminum and cardboard in all areas of the hotel and the use of recyclable and refillable bottles when possible
  • The use of biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning products throughout hotel
  • Employment of local people – 90% of the hotel’s staff is from the village of Pilas & San Isidro (where Hotel Buena Vista is located)
  • Energy conservation via the use of CFL bulbs (that consume 75 percent less energy and produce 75 percent less heat than standard bulbs) and solar panels to provide hot water in the pool and the hotel’s villas
  • Organic composting of food and garden waste to be used on-site


QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you been to Hotel Buena Vista before? Send us your thoughts!

Pura vida!

If you’re more of a visual learner, take a moment to view our gallery photos below from our most recent visit to Hotel Buena Vista.

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