by Steve Jermanok
A 10-minute drive from San Jose’s International Airport, this is a quiet retreat where outdoor pools are surrounded by gardens filled with bromeliads and orchids, restaurants serve tasty Latin American fare, a souvenir shop sells last minute goodies to the kids, a spa offers massages and other treatments to weary travelers, and, this being Costa Rica, there’s a cafe that brews strong coffee. With its elegant retro-Colonial facade and red roof tiles, the San Jose Marriott is a favorite retreat for both business travelers who come to San Jose for work and leisure travelers who know that this resort, close to the international airport and the city, is the ideal place to spend the first and last night of any trip to the country. In fact, it’s so welcoming and relaxing that I prefer this Marriott to the one in the resort town of Los Suenos on the Pacific coast.
The 290 rooms and suites are spread throughout six floors, many with views of Costa Rica’s Central Valley mountains and volcanoes. The restaurants and bars surround the central courtyard with sunlight seeping in, so you feel like you’re dining outdoors. If you want to breathe in that tropical air, head outside to the pool and grab a mango mojito. That will do the trick after the long flight down to Costa Rica.
Our Editor Loves
- Ideal gateway to Costa Rica
- Variety of dining options
- Two pools and driving range
- Connecting Rooms
- Family Room 5+
- Kids' Pool
- Onsite Dining
Find the Best Price for Your Stay
All 299 guestrooms and suites are air-conditioned and equipped with coffee maker, mini bar, and flat screen television featuring international cable channels. Newspapers arrive every weekday morning, turndown service is offered every night, and room service is available around the clock.
The guestrooms feature one king or two double beds and pool or mountain views. There is a balcony or patio sitting area and the Pool View rooms allow for kids to run from the patio to the pool with ease.
The suites feature a king bed in the bedroom and a sleeper sofa in the separate living room. A mini-fridge can also be found in the suites.
We booked our vacation and planned our trip around spending a day at this Hotel and resort because our friends said they loved it. When we arrived, we were told that they overbooked the hotel and could not honor our reservations. They then sent us to a terrible, stinky, old hotel. No email, no phone call, no form of advance notice for us to be able to make different arrangements. They just gave our rooms away and shrugged it off. We spent the last day of our vacation in limbo between bad hotels because this hotel was GREEDY and UNPROFESSIONAL and booked a conference at the expense of guests it had already promised rooms to.
My husband and I stayed here on our last night in Costa Rica since it is close proximity to the airport and much nicer than other accommodations around. The overall hotel is nicely kept up, there are plenty of restaurant options, and the room was nice. However, we got zero sleep and had to leave at 6 am for our flight. The hotels neat design with a courtyard in the center really just makes for a giant echo chamber. There was a birthday party that went until midnight in the ballroom that we could hear multiple floors up. Also, a loud group of intoxicated men stumbling down the hallway at 3 am. The person above us entered there room and proceeded to pace about for a half hour while still in heeled shoes. I live in a busy city I’m used to sleeping with noise, but this was intolerable.
There are two pools, an upper and lower one, and they never seem to be too busy. After all, this is not a resort where one spends a week. There are far more spectacular parts of Costa Rica to explore like Manuel Antonio National Park, Monteverde Cloud Forest, and Arenal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the western hemisphere.
There are also three tennis courts on site and a driving range.
If mom or dad is on a business trip and you want to flee the city, the Marriott can arrange excursions to the coffee plantations outside Heredia (three-hour tour) or a drive through the Central Valley to the massive crater of Poas Volcano (five-hour tour). Most guests at the hotel, however, are simply content to hang out around the pool. If this is your first or last day in the country, that might be the best way to spend your time, unwind, and appreciate Costa Rica's Pura Vida, "the good life."
For eggs, omelettes, cereal, and a great selection of fresh fruit like ripe mangos, pineapples, papaya, and small bananas, sit outdoor on the hotel patio at Antigua. They also serve Latin American cuisine in a casual setting for lunch and dinner.
Housed in a narrow room with a short ceiling to give it a look of a wine cellar, the menu features a vast selection of tapas, but the highlight is an acoustic guitarist and three flamenco dancers. There's nothing like dinner with serious floor pounding, entertainment the children had never seen before and found fascinating. La Isabella is open for lunch and dinner.
Open for dinner, La Castilla offers a good selection of sandwiches, salads, and grilled fish, all served with the requisite gallo pinto (black beans and rice) and fried plantains. They also feature a decent children's menu with mac and cheese, pizza, grilled chicken, spaghetti, and hot dogs.
Casa del Cafe
More casual fare like pastries can be found at Casa del Cafe, the resident coffee house which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
This sports bar also serves food and is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Planning & Tips
All About the Extras
Service is excellent at the San Jose Marriott, from the bellhops waiting for you upon your arrival to the many people at registration checking you in to the servers at the restaurants. Indeed, the service is far more on par with American standards than the more laid-back "Tico Time" the country is known for.
The gift shop features T-shirts, chocolate, coffee, stuffed animals, and more. There might also be someone rolling fresh cigars, if dad or mom wants to light up a stogie.
Internet is available at the business center, next door to the gift shop, and complimentary Wi-Fi is available in the lobby and public spaces. Wi-Fi is available in guestrooms for a daily fee.
Cardio and weight machines are available.
Complimentary parking is available.
Guests staying in one of the 40 Executive Club Level rooms have access to the Executive Lounge. A complimentary continental breakfast is served from 6 until 10 a.m. every morning, there's an afternoon coffee and tea service with pastries and desserts, and evening sweets. You'll also receive a complimentary pressing of a suit or dress, shoeshine service, and a free bucket of golf balls at the driving range.
The Art of Smart Timing
December through April is Costa Rica's high season, when prices are at their peak. The summer months of July and August, when the kids are out of school, the prices dip. This is the rainy season (Costa Ricans like to call it the green season), so expect to see rain daily around 4 to 5 p.m.
The San Jose International Airport is about 10 minutes away from the hotel and San Jose is one of those international airports where you really need to be there at least two hours prior to departure. The Daniel Oduber QuirÃ³s International Airport in Liberia, Costa Rica is about three and half hours away.
The resort is easily walkable but a vehicle is needed to venture off the property.
For Mom And Dad
Babysitting is available, if you want to sneak away and get a deep tissue or signature Palmas massage at the spa.