San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Elegant Victoriano Hotel Offers Taste of History

SAN JUAN DEL SUR – For those who admire the history and architecture of colonial Granada, yet long for Pacific Ocean sunsets of San Juan del Sur, the stately Hotel Victoriano facing the bay of San Juandel Sur offers the best of both worlds.

The ocean-front hotel is in an elegantly restored Victorian-era house built over a century ago by British immigrant William Herbert George Cross, who managed the original submarine cable company in San Juan del Sur at the beginning of the 1900s. The family’s descendants still live in Managua, where they own and run Casa Cross distributors.

The hotel’s new management is currently in the process of recovering and collecting old historical photos and documents from the Cross family and the early years of San Juan del Sur, as part of an effort to turn this regal old home into a bit of a living museum of the town’s early history.

The first-floor bedroom off the main lobby facing the back courtyard is named after Mark Twain, who visited San Juan del Sur in 1886 and is thought to have stayed in the same room that now bears his name (the bedding has since been changed).

In 1936, the home was bought by the ruling Somoza family and became the weekend home of Hope Somoza, the wife of former dictator Anastasio Somoza Debayle. The home was then confiscated in the 1980s by the Sandinista government and is now owned by the Nicaraguan Army’s Instituto de Previsión Social Militar (IPSM).

In 2007, the house was fully restored, equipped with modern amenities such as wireless internet, air-conditioning and cable TV in the rooms, and opened to the public as the Hotel Victoriano.

In a town that has undergone a dramatic tourism development boom over the past decade, the Hotel Victoriano is an historic gem built during a bygone era and for a leisurely lifestyle of lounging and contemplation that’s afforded only to the wealthy class.

But with rooms now renting for $100 to $140, you don’t have to be part of the oligarchy to experience how they once lived.

The hotel’s multi-leveled wooden porch, with various landings and balconies, offers unique perspectives on the daytime beach life below. The ocean-front pool and umbrella-covered deck is another great spot to enjoy a day at the beach without getting sand in your bathing suit.

And the small, fenced-in front yard is a great place to take your shoes off and sip a glass of wine at sunset.

Inside, a nicely restored bar and restaurant overlooking the beach offers a cozy setting for breakfast in an atmosphere that’s decidedly singular in San Juan del Sur. But even the air-conditioned bar can become unbearably bright and hot in the late afternoon, as the setting sun pierces through the giant bay windows.

In addition to being a charming beach retreat, the Hotel Victoriano is conveniently located near the center of town, a short walk to El Pozo Restaurant, one of the best dinner spots in town. But the hotel is also far enough removed from the downtown bars that breaking waves, not reggaeton, provide the background music to the evening.

For more information, visit, or email, or Phone: (505) 2568-2005.

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