Calle 30 between Avenidas 2 and 4, San José, Costa Rica
Conveniently located just steps from the heart of downtown San José and the airport freeway, Hotel Grano de Oro (gold nugget) is a true reflection of its name. The former tropical Victorian mansion melds a stately interior with a nature–infused environment to create an elegant and lush respite from the bustling urban surroundings. Combined with its passion for sustainability, community outreach and a level of service that indicates a sense of ownership, Hotel Grano de Oro is hands down San José’s finest.
The entrance of Hotel Grano de Oro marks a bold transition from contemporary to historic. Stairs framed by glass-walled columns lead to sliding glass doors, which open to a cavernous lobby backed by floor-to-ceiling bamboo walls. The reception area sits framed within olive wood laminates along with pots of bromeliads and vases filled with birds of paradise, all of which invite images of the country’s natural beauty.
To the left, beveled glass doors lead to one of the capital’s most renowned fine dining establishments. Restaurante Grano de Oro serves international cuisine and offers a variety of seating options spread throughout an open courtyard setting encircled by an interior dining area: umbrella–clad tables dot the interior courtyard; high–backed booths seat large groups; romantic window–side tables offer intimacy; and the bar caters to patrons dining alone.
Guest quarters also accommodate a variety of desires. Given Hotel Grano de Oro’s origins as two separate upscale homes, rooms vary from spacious standards with desks to family suites with adjoining rooms. Luxury suites are available with one or two beds, the former opening to glass–ceilinged patios adorned with chairs, ferns and gurgling fountains. The Suite Vista de Oro is a spacious top floor suite commanding sweeping views of the Central Valley; adding a splash of decadence, the suite’s in–room Jacuzzi looks west toward Volcán Irazú. No matter what room you are in, you can enjoy an outdoor Jacuzzi, surrounded by lounge chairs, located on a small terrace.
Hallways dressed in old photographs of San José, wainscoting, and brand new carpet lead to guest quarters. All rooms are decorated in rich browns with touches of gold and emerald green. Local artwork graces the walls and dark wood and antique furnishings sit atop carpeted and gleaming wood floors. Ceiling fans and air conditioning keep rooms at a comfortable temperature. Guest bathrooms (some skylit) have recently been completely remodeled and include copious toiletries stored in eco–friendly dispensers within walk-in shower or tub-shower combos.
Hotel Grano de Oro’s efforts to contribute to the well–being of the local community don’t stop at green cleaning and recycling. In 2003, the Canadian owners, Eldon and Lori Cooke, started Casa Luz to rescue young women and their children from abuse and sexual exploitation. (The highly successful program is now managed by the non–profit Associación Reacción En Cadena Por Nuestra Niñez.) Some of the women have emerged from the program to find employment at the hotel. It’s no surprise that the Costa Rica Tourism Board has awarded the hotel four of the five leaves possible in its rigorous sustainability certification.
The pride staffers feel in their workplace is evident. In fact, many have been with Hotel Grano de Oro from the day it opened in 1989. Professional and friendly, they go above and beyond to provide guests a home-away-from-home experience.
Web Address: www.hotelgranodeoro.com
Total Number of Rooms: 40
Published rates: $153 to $436
Review by Beverly Gallagher, photos courtesy of the hotel.