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“Great hotel to take in the sites of San Jose!” 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 #16 of 86 Hotels in San Jose
Costa Rica
Senior Contributor
23 reviews 23 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
12 helpful votes 12 helpful votes
“Great hotel to take in the sites of San Jose!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 19, 2013

We really enjoyed our stay at the hotel Balmoral. Located in the city center on the Main street it is convenient for seeing all the city sites. Our room was large and the bed with the yummy comforter was heaven. Breakfast was great with so many choices and fresh fruit. The staff was friendly and helpful, secure parking for our car, and the bar and restaurant right on the main street so you can enjoy your meal and people watch at the same time. I will be back to San Jose and this is where I will stay, again I cant say enough about the location. Thank you Balmoral!

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled on business
    • 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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573 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 (87)
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English first
Cleveland, Ohio
Top Contributor
328 reviews 328 reviews
70 hotel reviews
Reviews in 113 cities Reviews in 113 cities
148 helpful votes 148 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 9, 2013

There may be nice rooms in this hotel, but we didn't see them. We stayed two nights, one night at the beginning of our trip and one night at the end. Both times we had a very small, inadequate room at the farthest end of the hall. There was a utility shaft outside both rooms that jutted into the corner of the room, taking up probably 1/3 of the room space. In the photos it is surrounded by curtains. There were two double beds, a huge closet with small shelves (with a light bulb but we could find no way to turn it on) a small flat screen TV and a small fridge.The fridge was loaded with bottles of liquor, water, etc. - I am sure at premium prices. The rooms were clean and the beds comfortable.
Our second night was even worse than the first night. Our room was on the 6th floor - where they have the banquets, etc. and we could hear dishes and silverware clanging and the kitchen help yelling to each other - it was noisy.
Also on the second night we had no place to put our luggage - no bench, chair or table in the room. So the second bed had to be used for luggage. If you don't mind sharing a double bed this will work. Otherwise you will have to put your luggage on the floor. And floor space is at a premium in this room.
The bathroom had a dispenser for shower gel and soap, but both were empty. There was a sample size bottle of shampoo and a half full bottle of conditioner.
The breakfast in the morning was very good, and the restaurant spacious and nicely appointed. There are lots of green plants surrounding the dining areas and the usual CR open to the air bar. Monday and Wednesday is two for one cocktails and beer - a nice option.
The hotel is in a good location - right on Central Avenue - the pedestrian walkway lined with shops, markets and places to eat. It is easy to walk to the main park and the museums. This is the best part of this hotel. However, driving to it can be a nightmare.
There is free valet parking for your car. And the hotel staff was friendly and accommodating. The wifi was the worst we encountered in our entire stay in Cost Rica - which is peculiar since this hotel is in the city. But it was a strange place to stay all the way around. Not the best of our lodging by a long shot. Gate 1 - our travel company - booked us into fabulous hotels for the other locations, but seem to have dropped the ball in San Jose. There may be better rooms in this hotel, but we did not experience them.

Room Tip: Try not to get a room at the end of the hall where there is a utility shaft. And ask for a room on a...
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  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 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.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed February 1, 2013 via mobile

I chose the Balmoral Hotel primarily for its price and its location in the center of downtown San Jose. I had only one day to spend in San Jose before moving on to the Puerto Viejo area, so I wanted a hotel close to all the sites. The location did not disappoint, but I would not recommend the Balmoral for longer stays. My room was pretty depressing with one little window. The bed was uncomfortable, and the room's location at the end of the hall meant a lot of noise from the street filtered in. Otherwise, the continental breakfast was decent. I appreciated the wifi in the lobby and the presence of an ATM downstairs.

Stayed May 2012, traveled solo
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Orosi, Costa Rica
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 31, 2013

We live in Costa Rica about an hour and a half away from San Jose, but we didn't want to drive in and park overnight. We enjoyed our breakfast which had everything - Continental, American style and "Tico" style. Our room which had the economical rates was clean and comfortable. There is wifi, another computer to use, a gymnasium which we did not investigate, attractive surroundings and the hotel is close to everything in downtown. We had a great stay and a productive shopping trip.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with family
    • 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.
New York City
Top Contributor
67 reviews 67 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
42 helpful votes 42 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2013

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.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Brooklyn, New York, United States
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tambor, Costa Rica
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
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
#11 Romantic Hotel in San Jose
#11 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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