To escape from New York City’s winter in January 2013, we returned to Costa Rica after two visits in 2011.
Our base city, San José, was conveniently located for day excursions to: the Tortuguero Canals, Manuel Antonio National Park, La Paz Waterfalls, Monteverde Cloud Forest and the Ram Luna Folklore Show.
After enjoying Hotel Balmoral in 2011, our choice of hotel was a “no-brainer”. We returned and were not disappointed.
Though located in a shabby downtown area on Avenida Central, this hotel represents an excellent choice, having gone through massive renovations in 2011. Our suite on the fifth floor was furnished with hardwood floors and earth-toned walls.The bedroom was spacious with a king-size bed, widescreen TV and a safe deposit box. Air-conditioning was accessible from remote control panel. The living room was large and beautifully furnished with a sofa, coffee table, work desk and chair, recliner for reading, a small table and a mini-bar. The bathroom was large with shower and a tab that converted into a mini Jacuzzi. It could use a rear-view mirror not susceptible to clouding up. Bathroom amenities included a hair-dryer, soap, shampoo, conditioners and ample shelf space.
Services are great at the Balmoral. Housekeeping provided cleaning and a fresh supply of extra towels daily, though a guilt-provoking sign on the wall encourages guests to re-use towels for environmental control. Foreign exchange and departure tax collection are no longer provided at the front desk. Still, the staff is friendly and informative and will get you a taxi on a short notice. Daniel, at the tour desk, provides good help with day excursions, restaurant reservations and travel advice.
A complimentary breakfast buffet was served daily between 6 and 9am at the El Patio Restaurant at street level. Food choices included Costa Rican foods such as: rice with black beans (Gallo Pinto), fried plantains, cheese, tropical fruits, and American/European foods such as: eggs made to order, bread, carrot cake and cinnamon buns. Drinks included water and orange juice that were left on the counter without cover or ice (=very bad) and hot coffee. The staff accepted requests for tea that took 10 minutes to fulfill. This menu needs change with more offerings, catering to the finicky American and European guests. Breakfast hours should be extended till 10 am to accommodate late-risers. El Patio Restaurant is open to outside diners and offers a good choice of cakes, hot and cold drinks, European and Costa Rican dishes. Prices, though, are high in comparison with other establishments in the area. Live music is provided on weekends.
The new business center at the Balmoral includes two computers, available complimentary for hotel guests. A new lavatory is conveniently located next to the business center. The ground floor has been renovated and has new shops with mini pharmacy, self-service candy shop and a gift shop. You may want to skip the fifth floor poorly-equipped Fitness Center altogether.
All-in-all our experience at the Hotel Balmoral was excellent and despite some credit card issues we shall return again.
- Also Known As:
- Balmoral Hotel San Jose
- Balmoral Hotel Costa Rica/San Jose
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Galeria Comercial. ... more less
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