San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Hotel 1915 Combines Old Elegance with Modern Comforts in Alajuela

The Alhambra. El Escorial. Romantic old Spain. Baroque tile floors, adobe walls, arched doorways and curving, open stairways. Spacious rooms and comfy, soft beds. Hotel 1915 is reminiscent of a gracious past but offers travelers convenience and comfort right in the heart of Alajuela, northwest of the capital.

The house was built in 1915 by Luis Hidalgo Alvarez and his wife Elisa Hidalgo, whose coffee and cattle farms provided well for them. The present owner, Adela Vargas, is their granddaughter, and she is sometimes assisted by her granddaughter, Ana Isabel Soto.

Keeping up the old family home is a work of love, and guests will appreciate all the extra touches as well as the historical elegance and artful combination of old style and modern needs: a computer nook tucked behind a fountain room divider; a dining room adjacent to an outdoor patio, so that you feel you are in the midst of a garden even on a rainy afternoon; and Diego Rivera prints on the walls that blend right in.

The large living room is furnished with “almost” antiques, says doña Adela, who remembers playing in this room when the house belonged to her grandparents. The tile floor is 1915 original. The furniture goes back to the 1940s, she guesses, but today’s guests like it for relaxing while planning tomorrow’s trip or holding meetings. The solarium with skylights was added recently but blends in with the original style, copying the Moorish influence of Spain while providing natural light for indoor plants and guests.

What makes this hotel stand out is space –no crowding or squeezing here. Two good-size living rooms accommodate meetings, gab groups or places to spread out. The hotel is popular with groups that need room for planning work or itineraries. Insulated from the busy city streets by the reception hallway and thick walls, the hotel’s main areas are blissfully quiet.

The bedrooms look and feel comfortable. Each room is open to the air and boasts enough space for packing, dressing, watching cable TV or resting up after a day of sightseeing or work projects. Waking in the morning is a treat when a choice of breakfasts, American, Continental or Tico, is just a few feet away.

Because of its spacious rooms and convenience to transportation, Hotel 1915 is popular with both groups and individual travelers.

A group of Methodists from Arkansas who came here to help build a church in nearby Tuetal made the hotel its home for two weeks and found it “delightful.” They could meet in the living room, have refreshments in the dining area or retire to their rooms for a nap without that hotel-room feeling.

“We loved it; it’s the neatest place,” said one member of the group. “Sometimes we ate out and sometimes we ate in.”

As part of the old, established neighborhood, the historic Tacareña restaurant and bar on the corner serves everything from pizza to sandwiches and dinners, but doña Adela will arrange meals at a reasonable price if planned in advance. Hotel 1915 has hosted student and professional groups as well. A price advantage for groups is offered when three or more share a room.

For longer stays, family groups or people traveling with pets, five apartments in a nearby building share the same artistry. The building was converted and designed by architect Carlos Soto Pla, doña Adela’s husband.

The apartments have two bedrooms and fully equipped kitchens, and are situated inside a courtyard, away from street noise. Alajuela is only one kilometer from JuanSantamaríaInternationalAirport, which reduces the rush time when arriving in or departing from the country. With express bus service to San José and convenient bus connections to the Pacific beaches, car rentals in the area and many points of local interest, Alajuela is an ideal place to stay while in Costa Rica. And this hotel makes it a pleasant stay.

Rates and Information

Hotel 1915’s room rates run $55 to $85 a night, with some leeway on the prices according to the season and if paid in cash. Apartments, which can accommodate four guests each, are $100 a night. Breakfast is included. Hotel 1915 is 275 meters north of the Central Park in Alajuela. For information or reservations, call 440-7163, fax 441-0495 or e-mail


Comments are closed.