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Apartotel La Sabana 3.0

San Jose, San Jose Metro, Province of San Jose

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • A quieter setting compared to hotels downtown
  • Most units have kitchens (and all have fridges)
  • Weekly and monthly rates are available
  • Outdoor pool and indoor sauna are well-maintained
  • Breakfast, coffee, and cookies offered daily are all free
  • Self-serve and wash-and-fold laundry available
  • Close to neighborhood restaurants and a big park
  • Cozy business center and free Wi-Fi
  • Secure parking and airport transfers provided for free

Cons

  • Some layouts feel tight on space and some lack views
  • Not all rooms have kitchens
  • Eco-friendly lightbulbs take away from the evening ambiance
  • Bathroom tiles look dated
  • No fitness center and the pool can be cold

Bottom Line

This comfortable, family-owned hotel in San José has 32 units with lowish rates; most rooms are apartment-style with basic equipped kitchens. Pretty grounds and open-air hallways lead to an outdoor pool, and the hotel attracts families in transit, as well as those in town for longer stays (think medical and dental tourism). All layouts have granite working desks, wine glasses, and walk-in showers; larger units include separate sitting areas. Though not in the thick of downtown, guests are walking distance to a large park and a few great restaurants -- but don't miss the breakfast; it's included. Free airport transportation also adds to the value.

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Scene

A restful, home-like atmosphere from a family who runs one of the best Asian restaurants in town

La Sabana's low-rise structure is partially made of wood and brick, and topped with a Spanish-style roof. It is easy to spot along the quiet residential street with potted plants and a hummingbird statue that accentuate a wide entrance, giving the beige exterior charm and personality. Once buzzed through the door, guests are greeted by the front desk staff (another hummingbird adorns the wall). The cheerful lobby space is full of natural light, and guests are offered coffee, water, or juice during check-in. If arriving by rental car, guests are greeted by a staff member who will offer to bring in luggage and park the car. This valet service is necessary throughout the stay, as the parking lot is locked for security; staff will hang on to car keys so they can control the parking situation in the compact space.

Adjacent to the lobby is the breakfast room with hand-painted murals (guests can help themselves to coffee and cookies in the afternoon). From here, doorways leads to the courtyard with tables and chairs, sun loungers, and a colorful mosaic fountain trickling into the outdoor pool. The property is infused with thoughtful touches from a married couple who moved here from China with their kids. They first opened an Asian restaurant in another part of town (highly recommended by staff), and then opened La Sabana in 1992.  They divide their time between businesses and may not always be on the property, but staff members -- in their absence -- exude a friendly, often chatty, approach.

Many who stay here are typically in transit -- staying one or two nights before or at the end of a trip -- or here for longer term stays due to an extended work stint or medical procedure. Americans, especially, are common for the latter given that many cosmetic surgeries cost less here than they do back home (this is a growing area of Costa Rican tourism). With kitchens, free breakfast, an outdoor pool, and a quiet location, it is an ideal home base for travelers who prefer to stay out of busy downtown San Jose, where there is more nightlife and action.

Location

Those who do not have a rental car can use taxis or buses to get around the city.

This small hotel is located on the western side of San José -- Costa Rica’s capital and largest city -- in a residential neighborhood within walking distance of a large public park called Parquet Metropolitano. The area of La Sabana (the hotel's namesake) is experiencing steady growth, and is home to a few restaurants (Argentinian and Italian, to name a few) and a grocery store for stocking the fridges. Though it will require transportation, guests can access downtown in about 10 minutes for shops, markets, and cultural landmarks such as the National Theatre, National Cathedral, Gold Museum and Plaza de La Cultura, as well as nightlife and live music. Some guests rent cars -- there is free parking -- while others get around the city by using the bus system or taking taxis. The front desk can help with bus routes and arranging taxi fares.

Perhaps the best part of the location is that it only takes about 20 minutes to arrive from Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). Free airport transportation, to and from, is provided to guests and requires 48 hours advance notice. 

Rooms

Compact units -- most with kitchens -- have nice bedding, though blue bathrooms can be eyesores.

There are 32 units located in two sections (both two-stories each), either attached to the lobby or on the other side across from the pool. Decor is simple with a touch of personality via white bedding, beige and green accent walls, and colorful artwork. Most of them (24, in fact) are equipped with kitchens, while the rest just have mini-fridges and glassware. All units have drinking water, A/C units, 32” flat-screen TVs, and granite working desks. Bathrooms have walk-in showers and eco-friendly toiletries, but blue tiles can feel make them feel cramped and outdated. Some units (not all) have small balconies, and windows may look out onto lackluster views. Eco-friendly LED lightbulbs could take away from evening ambiance.

Each kitchen includes a refrigerator, microwave, stove, coffeemaker, cutlery, dishes, and basic cooking utensils. Layouts attempt to make the best use of limited space, but they may feel snug. For instance, the Medium Apartment's dining table sits rather close to the sink. The hotel's largest unit is a two-bedroom called the Family Apartment with one Queen-sized bedroom and a second one with two single beds. It also has a bigger living room with a sofa bed.

There is daily maid service, and weekly and monthly rates are available. Cribs are available upon request. 

Features

Free breakfast and an outdoor pool, though water will be chilly

The 24-hour front desk staff can help make reservations for restaurants and day trips, as well as arrange taxis and airport shuttle transportation.

An attractive courtyard area has a rectangular outdoor pool, but like many pools in the city, the temperature may be a little chilly due to San José's mountainous surroundings with several micro-climates, which consistently have lower temperatures than area's along the coast. The pool has a neat mosaic fountain, and there are cushioned lounge chairs for sun bathing. Tables and chairs are arranged next to the breakfast room, which can be used for working on laptops, or simply for enjoying afternoon coffee and sweets. Snacks and beverages are sold from a stand as well.

All rates include a hot-and-cold buffet breakfast. The expansive spread includes eggs made-to-order (scrambled or omelette), a local gallo pinto dish, pancakes, yogurt, cheeses, fruits and cereals, and breads and pastries, as well as coffee, tea, and fresh juice. There is indoor and outdoor seating. For lunch and dinner, the hotel owners operate an excellent Asian restaurant called Tin Jo -- a 10-minute drive away -- or guests can walk to neighborhood gems for Argentinian, Lebanese, and Italian food. There is a nearby grocery store for stocking the fridges.

Free Wi-Fi is available throughout (this may be spotty in areas), and there is a small office with fresh flowers and a guest computer. For more space, a comfortable meeting room that can seat 10 people comes with natural light and high-tech capabilities.  

Other amenities include an indoor sauna and laundry facilities. 

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Address

Sabana Norte, From Rostipollos Restaurant 150 Meters North, San Jose, Province of San Jose 658-1200, Costa Rica

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