Best Hotels Near SJO Airport

Last Updated: October 29, 2020

With crazy flight schedules and lengthy drive times between most destinations and the airport, sometimes an overnight near Costa Rica’s SJO (Juan Santamaria International) Airport is inevitable. But just because you are close to the San Jose Airport doesn’t mean these nights can’t be part of your vacation too. In fact, only a few minutes from the runway are a plethora of charming B&Bs and hotels that will give you a taste of Costa Rica’s welcoming culture and beautiful scenery.

Best Airport Hotels, San Jose, Costa Rica | Two Weeks in Costa Rica

Hotels Near SJO Airport

Below you will find our picks for the best hotels near SJO Airport. They are all within a 20 minute drive of SJO so make for a stress-free pit stop when arriving in or leaving Costa Rica. We’ve stayed in each of the hotels ourselves or toured them with an eye towards our reader’s needs (i.e., quiet neighborhood, comfy beds, good food, etc.). Each offers something a little different, and we hope we’ve included something that is right for you.

Hotel Buena Vista

Hotel Buena Vista may be only 7 km (4.3 miles) from Alajuela but couldn’t feel farther removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. Set in the mountains among lush forest, this hotel has gorgeous views of the surrounding valley. Rooms are spacious and tastefully decorated, many with private balconies to take advantage of the views. Deluxe rooms are good for couples, while the larger villas are an excellent choice for families. $125-250, includes free airport shuttle and breakfast. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Best Airport Hotels - San Jose, Costa Rica | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
View from Hotel Buena Vista

Hotel Terrazas de Golf

We love staying at Hotel Terrazas de Golf. Overlooking the golf course in Cariari, this boutique hotel offers spacious, comfortable rooms for a great price. Owner Cecilia and her son and daughter who help run it are super friendly and helpful if you need a recommendation during your stay. This hotel is also a great option for golf lovers, as a course is right next door. $90-150, includes free airport shuttle and a delicious breakfast. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Best Airport Hotels, San Jose, Costa Rica | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Terrazas de Golf

Hotel Alameda Cariari

Just down the street from Terrazas de Golf is another good value option. Hotel Alameda Cariari offers 10 unique rooms in an opulent, mansion-like building. We were skeptical of the gleaming photos online, but found that the rooms really are that nice in person. $50-100. Breakfast and airport shuttle available for an additional charge. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Best Airport Hotels, San Jose, Costa Rica | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Foyer of Hotel Alameda Cariari

Hotel La Rosa de America

Hotel La Rosa de America is a small family-owned hotel just north of the airport with a lot of local character. Though conveniently located right off a main road, the hotel is set back so quiet. Nicely landscaped grounds and a pool make it feel like you’re not in the city. La Rosa has a few different types of rooms available for all budgets. The quadruple rooms and family suites with bunk beds are perfect for larger groups. $60-150, includes breakfast. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Best Airport Hotels, San Jose, Costa Rica | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Grounds of Hotel La Rosa de America

Alajuela City Hotel and Guesthouse

For those wanting to check out the local culture, there’s Alajuela City Hotel and Guesthouse (formerly Hotel Los Volcanes). We’ve stayed here several times and even wrote about it in our travelogue, Two Weeks in Costa Rica. This B&B-style hotel in downtown Alajuela is under new ownership and has undergone a lot of renovations. The converted mansion still has a quaint, old-world feel but with nicer finishes. One of the best parts of the hotel is still its location. Within walking distance is the vibrant central park and cathedral, market, and many restaurants where you can see the comings and goings of the locals. $55-165, includes breakfast. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Hotels near SJO Airport - Alajuela City Hotel and Guesthouse
Photo Credit: Alajuela City Hotel and Guesthouse

Villa San Ignacio

Villa San Ignacio is a boutique hotel on the outskirts of Alajuela. Good for both couples and families, the rooms are simply decorated yet well appointed. The hotel has a spacious pool area and excellent on-site restaurant that serves gourmet Costa Rican and international offerings. Villa San Ignacio is also a good jumping off point for visiting the nearby Poas Volcano or going on a coffee tour. $80-225, includes breakfast. Check Rates and Availability Here.

Best Airport Hotels, San Jose, Costa Rica | Two Weeks in Costa Rica
Villa San Ignacio

Still Looking for a Hotel near San Jose?

Because many of these hotels are smaller, they tend to book up quickly during peak travel times. If you need some more ideas, there’s the larger Courtyard Marriott ($150-250) in Alajuela with clean, spacious rooms that you would expect from the Marriott chain. Another decent budget option is Hotel Aeropuerto ($75-120). Hotel Aeropuerto is about as close to the airport as you can get, perfect if you’re arriving late.

Last Updated: October 29, 2020

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Have a favorite hotel near SJO that we didn’t mention? Leave a comment below and share your experience.

Looking for more basics to plan your trip? Check out these posts:

Packing for Costa Rica: The Essentials – What to pack for Costa Rica’s many microclimates as well as some essential gear.

Money Matters: Tips on getting local currency, using your credit card, and tipping.

Costa Rica Rental Car Discount – Save 10-25% on a rental car and get free extras like a second driver and car seat with our discount.

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  1. Matt, Jenn, You really should check out Hotel Robledal, in Alajuela, near SJO. Rates are $90 US (including tax) for two, breakfast and airport p/up/drp off or rental car area shuttle included. We’ve stayed at La Rosa de America twice and liked it also but Hotel Robledal is a better deal and just as nice and not having to deal with a Taxi makes Robledal much more relaxing.

    You two have got to be close to due date… hope all is well.

    John & Kathy

  2. We stayed at Hotel Bougainvillea in Santo Domingo de Heredia. About 20min’s from the airport. (without traffic) Absolutely loved the views, the grounds (the property looks & feels like a botanical garden/ peaceful sanctuary) and the neighborhood-nice place to walk. For such I high end Hotel I thought the rates were very affordable.

    1. Hi Tammy, Hotel Bougainvillea is great suggestion to add to the list. We haven’t actually stayed there but have eaten at the restaurant (which was very good) and walked through those beautiful gardens. We’ve actually been meaning to get back there, they have a really cool chain carved out of wood in their bar area that we want to get a picture of.

  3. Any recommendations for hostels close to the airport? I’ve seen some good flights that don’t get into SJO until 10:30 or 11pm, so something relatively inexpensive and close would be great! We’re thinking June for our trip.

    1. Hi Kelsey, Something in Alajuela is probably your best bet because it’s closer to the airport than San Jose. Here are some ideas:
      Lajuela Hostel is one option- This is a nicer hostel with more of a B&B feel. They have dorm beds for around $25 and private double rooms for $55 (includes breakfast but not shuttle from the airport). If you’re just looking for a cheap place to crash, there’s Alajuela Backpackers. They have dorm beds for around $12-20 and this includes airport shuttle. There are some relatively cheap regular hotels too. Take a look at Hotel Old House a little outside of downtown Alajuela ($40 for a private room) and Hotel Santamaria right in the center of town ($45 for a private room).

  4. Hi Jenn, hi Matt!
    Since SJO Airport is where our journey will start, I’m leaving my comment below this post. We’re going to Costa Rica in about 3 weeks and will be staying for almost 3 weeks. A couple of days ago I googled for any information about Rio Celeste and fortunaley came across your blog. Since then I am sitting here every night and read every single post of your page even though I know we are not going to make it to every destination. However, I LOVE how you provide more and better information than my travel book does and how detailed you have described everything. I wish I had discovered your blog before booking because it just became clear to me that we definitely need more than 2 and half weeks for this amazing country. Anyway, thank you so so so much for helping me plan things on our trip. This is the best travel blog I have ever red about a country! Excellent job!!!!
    Muchas gracias y un saludo desde Berlin 🙂

  5. I stay at Vida Tropical B&B in Alajuela where private rooms with a shared bath start at $35. It is a short walking distance to restaurants and banks, and $8-10 for a taxi from the airport. The staff here is very friendly and helpful. I’ve seen many travelers come through here that have been here before.

  6. We have been planning a trip to Costa Rica. After a lot of looking around online, we decided to stay at the Holiday Inn Express San Jose Airprt on our last night in CR before we flight back to the US. Have you ever been to that hotel? I know it’s not particularly trendy and isn’t going to provide a nice cultural connection, but is it a good hotel?

    1. Hi Brandi, we haven’t been inside the Holiday Inn Express personally, but have driven by many times. Yes it’s a good hotel. It’s very convenient to the airport and from what we understand, has the same feel as a Holiday Inn Express in the US. Furniture, setup, etc, will all be very similar. They also offer a 24 hour shuttle so it is a good option if you are flying in/out at off hours.

  7. We are flying to la fortuna and staying at Hotel El Silencio del Campo (02feb-04feb). We will use your discount offer for renting a car and wonder if we need 4wd. Probably only going to/from hotel, tabacon springs, la fortuna and maybe a falls or suspension bridge. We’ll be taking shuttle or van back to SJO- do they pick up at rental office when we drop off car?
    We’ve so enjoyed your blog and all the information you provide- thanks.

    1. Hi Laurie, No, you shouldn’t need a 4×4 to go to those places. The roads you’ll drive on are all paved or flat dirt roads.

      Not sure if you’re planning to take a shared or private shuttle, but the shared ones usually only do pickups from hotels. What you can do though is find the closest hotel to the Adobe office and select that as your pickup location. Adobe can also pick up the car for you right from your hotel for free if that is easier. Private shuttles will pick you up wherever. If you need a recommendation for a private transfer, just let us know.

  8. hey, love your blog! it’s been so helpful in planning my trip to costa rica next week. So we’re planning on using your discount for the adobe rental car and staying at a hotel near the airport the night before our very early flight back home. When we bring the car back would they bring us to the airport? or should we try and drop it off the night before and take the shuttle from the hotel? also, when we arrive in costa rica, will there be someone from adobe to pick us up? we have “reserved” a car but have made no payments. Thanks SO much for making us travelers at ease 🙂

    1. Hi Stefanie, Thanks for renting through our website! I think our Rental Car page should answer all your questions (we updated it recently so it may be different than when you first looked at it). But basically, yes, if you want to drop off the car the day of your flight, Adobe will shuttle you to the airport after. If it is more convenient since you have an early morning flight, you could also drop it off the night before and Adobe will bring you to your hotel for free since it is close to their office/the airport. Just be sure to arrange this in advance with them. And when you arrive, someone will be waiting for you at the airport to pick you up and bring you to the office, as long as you give them your flight details. There is more info on where they will be waiting and how that works on our rental car page. If you still need to give them any of this info, you can do it through email or when you confirm your reservation (see instructions in small print at bottom of email you got from Adobe after making your reservation. You have to call or email with your credit card info). Hope that answers all your questions and you have a great trip!

  9. Hi Guys, love your site – very helpful. Are any of the airport hotels you list pet-friendly? We are flying in with our dogs.

  10. We are staying in a rental house in dominical costa rica. They recommended we rent a car. Flying into SJO and then house is about 3 1/2 hours from airport. How is driving and any loopholes I need to know with car rental.

    1. Hi Janeen, They gave you good advice. It is best to have a rental car for most vacation rentals in Dominical. You will find lots of information in our post about driving in Costa Rica and can look up your route in our Road Conditions post (be sure to go Highway 27 to 34 and NOT Highway 2 over the mountains).

      As for rental cars, be sure to go with a reputable company that has reliable cars and has all of its fees upfront. Costa Rica has a mandatory insurance that cannot be declined and some companies do not include this in quotes, then surprise you when you get here. We like Adobe Rent a Car but there are other good ones too. Here’s the link to our Rental Car Discount page. We get 10% off and free extra

  11. We stayed at the Country Inns & Suites which is right next door to the Adventure Inn on one side & the Doubletree by Hilton on the other side. Free parking & free American breakfast buffet. Nice & clean!

  12. Jenn & Matt,
    We (My wife & I – Baby Boomers ) are heading CR last week of Feb to 1st week of March (13 nights). we arrive at SJO 1 night and then we’re heading to Manuel Antonio for 2 nights.. That leaves us with 10 nights to tour CR and relax a bit ! We then want to head to either Arenal or Tamarindo ? We need to be back at SJO on March 8th.
    We want to see sloths, wildlife birds Tucans. Macaws etc…. . We want to go on a zip line.
    From Parrita MA are we better off taking Ferry to Montezuma area and spending a night or 2 in that area ? or do we drive the entire way to Tamarindo & beyond?

    We like to do things last minute and want to know if you think its necessary to book all hotels before we arrive or can we book as we go from town to town ? Love your site & books. Cheers ! John & Dora, former Bay Staters (now Rhode Islanders)

    1. Hi John and Dora, Not sure our reply is in time for your planning (sorry, we have about 50 comments in our queue right now!), but here are some thoughts. For sloths, birds, and other wildlife, Arenal is the better choice over Tamarindo. You will get to see wildlife in the MA area, though, so maybe that will be enough for you? Tamarindo doesn’t have as much for wildlife but it does have really nice beaches and lots going on (good restaurants, shops, etc.). Zip lining can be done in either location but we prefer the experience/views near Arenal.

      If you go to Tamarindo, it’s faster to just drive and skip the ferry. But Montezuma is a fun town and the ferry ride is great and very scenic. So since you have 10 nights, that would be a good way to break up the travel day and see a different area of the country.

      As for booking in advance or not, many of the best hotels will fill up since March is the high season, but you will always be able to find something. When we backpacked before having kids, we never booked in advance. Sometimes it made for an adventure arriving to a town without having anything set in stone, but we don’t regret it at all! If you’re planning on doing the 10 nights consecutive in one spot, you might want to book that ahead of time since it will be harder to find that many nights in one place.

  13. FYI, the Cariari charges extra for parking, for breakfast, and for the airport shuttle. We didn’t learn this until after we booked, as their website is not forthcoming. Plus, the booking function on the site doesn’t work and says all the rooms are booked when they’re actually available on expedia or booking.

  14. Jenn/Matt – thank you for all of the information! Very helpful for first time visitors. Bringing my family of 6 down next month for a 9 day trip. Staying at the Costa Rica Marriott Hotel San Jose for 2 nights. Planning on heading up to Guanacaste the morning of the 3rd day in a rental car…expecting 4 hours of drive time. Is that reasonable? We’d like to make a day of it and make stops on the way up if possible…any recommendations? Staying up there for 4 nights (JW) and then headed to Herradura (Los Suenos) for a couple more. Our flight out of San Jose is at 2:30 PM…I believe we have plenty of time to stay in Herradura the evening before as long as we leave to the airport by 8-9 AM ish to be safe. Can you see any issues with that plan? We’re a well traveled family with a couple of young adult children and teenagers that love the beach and outdoor adventure. Really excited to see CR. Thanks in advance for any advice you can provide.

    1. Hi Hank, Yes, it’s about 4-5 hours from SJO to the JW Marriott, depending on traffic. Be careful with making stops on the way. We don’t usually recommend that if you have all your bags, as vehicle break-ins/theft is a common crime here. But there are some places that are more secure. You would probably be fine stopping at Las Pumas Rescue Center. Llanos de Cortez Waterfall has parking attendants to watch your car but we would still take your most valuable possessions with you and then take turns swimming. For your departure, you should be at SJO by 12:30 so can definitely leave Herradura same day. Hope your family has a great time. We stayed at Los Suenos recently and really enjoyed it. Also be sure to check out our Rental Car Discount. We work with a reputable company and our readers get 10% off.

  15. Hello. Thank you for taking time to give people this good information. I am visiting Costa Rica with a group of friends at the end of October. I am flying into SJO a few days early to do some adventuring by myself. Hotel Los Volcanes sounded like the perfect place for me but it is booked up for the dates I need. What other hotels or areas would you recommend staying that would allow me to check out the local culture?

  16. Hi, I enjoyed reading the posts; there is some great info here. I am also from the Boston area (Methuen). I have been to CR five times and returning next month for photography.


  17. i am loving your site and your 2 week itinerary book. ( bedtime travel porn) we are planning on coming second half of july next year, yes we are braving the rainy season. My thoughts are 1 night san jose, 2 nights tortuguero, pick up hire car in Guilapes, then 3 nights arenal area, 2 nights bijagua, 2 nights monteverde , 4 nights manuel antonio. i am slightly concerned we are doing a bit too much travelling, and wonder whether we should drop either the bijagua or monteverde parts and do extra day san jose at end and extra day just chilling manuel antonia. we have long 12 hour international flights at each end of trip. 2 adults 2 kids 15 and 11.

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