San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Heredia: An Easy Escape from San José

Heredia, Costa Rica’s own “City of Flowers,” is a delightful spot for a quick getaway from the roar of San José life.

Located 10 kilometers north of the capital and dotted with fun and funky boutique hotels, the “City of Flowers,” as the provincial capital is known due to its, er, abundance of flowers and gardens, is also one of the few cities in Costa Rica that still flaunts the edifices and architecture of the country’s Spanish-colonial past.

Whether you’re making a break from the streets of San José to escape to coffee-lined slopes of Barva Volcano or stopping off in Heredia from an international location, options for accommodations abound. If you’re like many city-dwellers from San José looking for a holiday escape this Holy Week, check out Heredia.

In Santo Domingo de Heredia, a 10-minute drive from downtown, Hotel Bougainvillea (, 2244-1414) offers of up luxury rooms at affordable rates in a lovely location. Outside, the hotel is lined by its namesake flowers, while inside guests can enjoy tennis, a swimming pool and fitness center, as well as Hotel Bougainvillea’s 10 acres of flower gardens.

The gardens are impressive, boasting more than 50 varieties of bromeliads, numerous orchids and a frog pond where amphibian enthusiasts can ogle the threatened “coffee frog.”

Hotel Valladolid (, 2260-2905), just 400m north and 100m west of the National University (UNA) in the heart of Heredia, has rooms ranging from $74-$110. With simply furnished rooms and a central location, Hotel Valladolid makes a great jumping off place for exploring the “City of Flowers.” One can mosey past the UNA as it’s bustling with students, or take a stroll toward downtown to sample cafés and bars that abound (see story, Page W1).

Another option for staying near the city is Hotel Boutique Cibeles (, 2260-3176), just a three-minute walk from Heredia’s shopping and nightlife epicenter – Paseo de Las Flores shopping center. Rates are $60-$70 per night.

Slightly north and west of town, Santa Bárbara de Heredia is also packed with colonial facades and makes for a nice escape inside the Central Valley. Here you can check out La Casa Que Canta (www.exploring, 2771-4582, a small place situated on two hectares of land with panoramic views of the Central Valley. Fruit trees, from which guests are welcome to pluck tasty avocadoes and bananas and more, abound. Rooms range from $43 per night for a single bedroom to $80 per night to lock down one of the two cottages nestled on the property.

Striking architecture, hectares of shade-rown coffee, luxurious accommodations and sustainable tourism development are the things that define the Finca Rosa Blanca Coffee Plantation and Inn (http://fincaro, 2269-9392). As the first hotel awarded a sustainable tourism permit by the Costa Rican Tourism Board, Finca Rosa Blanca earns its chops by prohibiting any internal-combustion engine-driven vehicles on the premises; only foot traffic and electric cars are there to disturb the tranquility of a working coffee plantation. Rates range from $295 per night for a junior suite to $520 for a villa. All prices include breakfast.

La Catalina Hotel and Suites (www.laca, 2269-7445) offers adults who want a romantic getaway in the Central Valley a lush space to unwind. Featuring two pools, one of which is clothing optional, and sweeping views of San José and the Central Valley, La Catalina Hotel and Suites also has gardens, a professionally equipped gym, tennis courts, a library, and a spa that doles out massages, manicures and plenty of other services to make you feel pampered.

Whether you want to dig on the contagious energy of downtown Heredia’s college scene and colonial style or slip away for a sleepy weekend in the mountains, the “City of Flowers” has a plenty to offer.

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