Now Open: Mansion del Parque Bolivar
Newly opened Mansion del Parque Bolivar is a stylish, well-situated, well-priced find in the Costa Rican capital where hotels tend to be high-rise international chains, locally-owned hotels trying to emulate them, overly “quaint” bed and breakfasts or backpacker hostels. Located in a genteel neighborhood, Mansion del Parque Bolivar rubs shoulders with well-kept homes, restaurants, cafes, embassies, government ministries and parks.
The hotel is also within easy walking distance of museums. Don’t miss the very hip Museo de Arte y Diseño Contemporáneo which hosts rotating mixed media contemporary art and design exhibitions in a stunning former distillery building (free to all on Mondays). Downtown San José, with its pedestrian mall, sprawling market and gorgeous National Theater, is also a short stroll away through leafy parks and vibrant streets.
There are only five rooms at Mansion del Parque Bolivar (three more will likely be added in 2012). All have unique layouts featuring hard wood floors, original tile work and original carved wood doors. All rooms also have desks, mini fridges, flat screen TVs and Wi-Fi. You won’t find air conditioning, however, since the climate in San José is mild and temperate thanks to an elevation of 3,800 feet.
Italian owner Fabrizio Faelo came to Costa Rica 12 years ago on a surfing vacation to the Mal Pais region. Three weeks later he was buying property and moving to the beach. A few years ago he moved inland to the capital and bought a rundown but architecturally interesting family home. After a year of renovation the hotel opened its doors.
Mansion del Parque Bolivar does not have a restaurant, however, it’s near many eateries (ask Fabrizio for his favorites) including La Esquina Buenos Aires. Here you’ll find fantastic beef (and pasta and fish), the most affordable glass of wine in the city ($5 for a massive pour of the restaurant’s house red or house white) plus knowledgeable and accommodating waiters. No wonder La Esquina is buzzing with locals and visitors mingling at the bar and lingering over tables most nights.
Less than three blocks away from the hotel is one of the chicest shops in San Jose. It’s called eÑe (look for the red neon Ñ in the window at 7th Avenue and 13th Street) and everything they sell is locally designed and made. Cool tees, handmade leather bags, retro dresses, playful jewelry, stylish journals and notebooks and more make great gifts (for you).
Rates at Mansion del Parque Bolivar (from $90 double occupancy) include a very European breakfast of sliced meats and cheeses, coffee cake and fruit served on a petite patio overlooking the Casa Amarillo, Costa Rica’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Over coffee you’ll have an incredible view of a chunk of the Berlin Wall which has been installed as sculpture on the manicured grounds of the Ministry. In 1963 President John F. Kennedy planted a ceiba tree on the grounds of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well. Sadly, it had to be cut down.