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“All in all a great hotel.” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Balmoral Hotel

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Balmoral Hotel
3.5 of 5 Hotel   |   Central Avenue between 7th & 9th Street, San Jose 1000, Costa Rica   |  
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Ranked #20 of 86 Hotels in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Level Contributor
25 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
“All in all a great hotel.”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 24, 2013

My wife and I stayed at the Hotel Balmoral in San José, Costa Rica, for 12 days, checking out January 21, 2013. This was our third visit to that beautiful country and the second stay at the Balmoral.

For the most part, the Balmoral is an excellent choice, particularly if you intend to use the capital city as a base and to take one-day trips to the jungle safaris and other touristic locations. Balmoral is located in the dead center of the city, on the principal boulevard, Avenida Central.

Since Costa Rica is an inexpensive country, the rates at the hotel are fantastic. We shared a suite loaded with wood cabinets and closets, enough room to store just about all the stuff one accumulates at home. The wooden floors are gleaming, as though a coat of ice were placed above them, making them impervious to scratches. The maid service is phenomenal: not a speck of dust can be found in the suite. The room had a 32 inch TV with cable including HBO. Yet perhaps because we were there between high seasons—middle of January—we had this room for just $141 a night, and that included the 13% government tax.

The shower is terrific: strong current of water and thankfully not the European style “telephone” types. Hot water never gave out. Eight bath towels were provided for us.

The staff are great as well. Daniel, the concierge, fixed us up with trips to jungles and to a folklore show, aided by brochures a-plenty on the racks. This is a particular strength: we stayed during the past 9 months in Alicante, Spain, and Tirana, Albania, in five-star hotels including the Melia. There was no concierge at the announced desk at any time. The staff could not or would not speak much English and seemed hostile when compared to the friendly folks behind desks at the Balmoral.

The breakfast is filling but limited. Gallo Pinto (rice and beans wedded together), indifferent bread and pastries, eggs made to order albeit cooked to a rubber consistency, papaya, cantaloupe, watermelon, and coffee and tea. However, despite a renovation during the last year that put a few stores in the lobby (a candy emporium and a small pharmacy among them), the breakfast dining room featured more than half of its chairs as plain wood and just a few with upholstery. Your butt will thank you if you manage to sit in the latter. If you sit just behind the bar, you will not find upholstery on the seats: you would have to take a table. One wonders why the Balmoral could not have spent some more colones to match all the chairs with cushions.

There are two computers for guests’ use, but apparently unwilling to spend a few more colones, management still uses these machines manufactured in 2002 with Windows XP. One of the machines does not respond correctly to some keys including the @. (You have to ask the staff which key to depress for that important sign.) Behind the computers are two public restrooms. The men’s room automatic dryer had not worked all week. There are internet cafés a short walk away, charging under one dollar for an hour’s use.

The fitness center is a sad case. Five machines including a junior-size treadmill that did not function during the time we were there.

The hotel’s bar and restaurant, The Patio, is surprisingly expensive considering the reasonable rates of the rooms. A pizza comes to $20.

Weaknesses aside (all hotels have ‘em), Balmoral is a place to which we would enjoy returning.

Room Tip: Ask for a suite. The price difference is small enough.
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  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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654 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (103)
Date | Rating
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English first
Tambor, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2013

I generally go into SJ once a month, and after being disappointed with where I normally stay, decided to give the Balmoral a try again. Very impressed with renovations, great location and the staff is great. Secure parking garage is a huge plus! Good breakfast is included in price. Restaurant prices are high though.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled on business
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Syracuse, New York
Level Contributor
3 reviews
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 12, 2013

The Hotel was excellent. Staff was helpful, efficient and very courteous! Room was very nice. Shower was hot with very good pressure. The room was large, clean and well appointed. The room had a lot of closet space, nice amenities and spacious bathroom, including seperate large shower and bath tub. The restaurant was very nice. Excellent free Wifi & flat screen tv. The only downside is that the view is not very pretty, unless you stick your head out the balcony window to see the mountains. Location is PERFECT for seeing most of the key tourist sites!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Sallisaw, OK
Level Contributor
117 reviews
29 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 87 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2012

Stayed at Balmoral the 8th and 9th of December. Check in was easy and quick, and the desk staff were helpful and friendly. Stay in the family room, which was spacious and well equipped. The beds are very hard. The suite had 2 bedrooms with king sized beds, two bathrooms, a living area with TV and little bitty coffee maker. There is a small safe for valuables. Internet is available in the lobby area. They have a little balcony with a street view, but, beware. The view is very limited to the immediate location. No room for a sitting space, no chairs or table for a morning coffee. You are not likely to get a panoramic view of the city in this hotel. Still, this is a nice hotel for relaxing and regrouping while exploring downtown.

The hotel is located on the paseo, just a block from the cultural plaza. This is in the heart of the city. It is easy walking distance to El Mercado, National Theater, banks, embassies, museums. It's all right there. The street life is amazing. The paseo and cultural plaza fill up quickly every day. The action begins at sunrise, and continues until past midnight. Their restaurant provides very good food, but he service is exceptionally slow. Prices have risen appreciably since our last visit, and the food is good. The hotel as a whole has improved in appearance, and a lot of work has gone in to upkeep. The food quality may be somewhat inferior to that of just a couple of years ago. I will say that the breakfast buffet is excellent, and that they provide a very good morning meal for guests.

The street life has suffered in the past few years. More beggars, more persistant. I appreciate the presence of La Policia on every corner. In several visits to downtown, I have never felt unsafe or uncomfortable. But the general feel on the street is going down hill. But, I concede, this is not the fault of Balmoral nor their responsibility. Just be careful when venturing very far away from the Hotel. Stick to the paseo from Balmoral to El Mercado.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Orleans, LA, Los Angeles, CA
Level Contributor
16 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2012

This was my second stay at the Balmoral - originally picked for its location and value. This trip I stayed 10 days while recovering from cosmetic surgery by the brilliant Dr. Arnoldo Fournier, San Jose's preeminent plastic surgeon. My superior room, was all that and then some - spacious, flat-screen TV, free WiFi, endless towels and buckets of ice - the chambermaids and front desk staff were wonderfully attentive and courteous. The complimentary breakfast buffet, served in the vast, new El Patio atrium is an amazing experience - eggs to order - heaps of fresh fruit - et al. Room rates start at $79. per night - which would easily be triple that in New Orleans and five times that in NYC. Unlike reviewer Liztiz1, I find the Balmoral location extremely congenial - two blocks from the Teatro Nacional, Grand Hotel Costa Rica's dining pavillion, and the teeming square, full of lively Ticos - and walking distance to all the museums. Overall, I'd say the upgrade to the Balmoral is very impressive to this experienced traveler, and I plan to return to it in the not so distant...

Room Tip: Rooms at the back are quietest - except for the burbling pigeons, which sound I found reassuring.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled solo
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
68 reviews
62 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 63 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed October 20, 2012

I stayed in this hotel for a week for work in San Jose - it is a nice hotel in a not-so-nice location. I didn't know anything about San Jose before this trip, but if I came again I wouldn't stay in downtown San Jose. If you want to shop though then this would be the place to stay - it is close to bars and restaurants and San Jose sites - but go out of San Jose as much as you can - the rest of the country is incredible! That being said - the hotel is nice enough, the rooms are very spacious and clean, and there is free wifi, the staff are helpful and can speak enough English to help you get by, and as previous reviews had suggested, excellent water power in the shower! The coffee in the hotel restaurant is excellent, as is the food - the breakfast buffet is good as well. Friday nights they have live music which is amazing so I recommend going down to the bar. My suggestion to people arriving at the international airport though is not to use the hotel for transfers from the airport if you are arriving late - I arrived very late and the transport never showed up and I was left waiting - just get a taxi from the airport - it should cost you around US$35.

Room Tip: The superior rooms are better as you have an enclosed balcony to make things less noisy.
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  • Stayed October 2012, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vail, Arizona
Level Contributor
24 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed October 3, 2012

Although touting itself as the "new" Balmoral, this hotel still needs work:

Rooms:
We understand that the "new" Balmoral is consciously "greening" its services and infrastructure, but when bedroom and bathroom fluorescents are so dim as to require turning them ALL on at once simply to read or shave, it defeats the purpose...
Also, the useless little table and chairs in the "sitting area" would be better dispensed with and the entire room redesigned to expand the bathroom...

Bathroom:
Whomever decided that A) bath towels should be hung INSIDE the shower area and B) the hand-towel bar should be directly beside the toilet (yes, the towel fell...Guess where?) should not be in the hotel design business...

Restaurant:
The Patio Restaurant while attractive, needs to work on both service and food preparation; their Arroz con Pollo arrived lukewarm and one was hard-pressed to find any pollo amongst all the arroz. The Tiramisu was was lacking the usual cake, was served in a champagne glass and was overpowered by the completely unnecessary addition of cinnamon...Breakfast service was adequate, but weak coffee and a dearth of pastry selections detracted from the overall appeal.

Special mention:
Francisco at the front desk was exemplary in his attention to his guests' needs and gave excellent advice and service in arranging tours...Unfortunately, his choice of rental car agencies, Hola, turned out to be questionable since we are having a dispute on a promised refund from Xavier when we were forced to cut our vacation short.

  • Stayed September 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Balmoral Hotel

Address: Central Avenue between 7th & 9th Street, San Jose 1000, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of San Jose > San Jose Metro > San Jose
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#7 Family Hotel in San Jose
#13 Business Hotel in San Jose
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Balmoral Hotel 3.5*
Number of rooms: 113
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Hotel Full of Life, Where Everything is Within Reach! The Balmoral is a lively, full service, landmark hotel located on the famous Central Avenue in the historical and vibrant heart of downtown San Jose, Costa Rica and only 10 miles away from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). The Balmoral is ideal for both leisure and business travelers. Within walking distance of the hotel, you will find San Jose's main art, cultural, financial, government and historical landmarks, as well as some of city's best entertainment, shopping, and healthcare facilities. From the hotel, you can also take a wide variety of one-day tours to discover Costa Rica's natural beauties. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Balmoral Hotel San Jose
Balmoral Hotel Costa Rica/San Jose

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