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“Beautiful hotel with exceptionally helpful staff.”
Review of Hotel Santo Tomas

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Hotel Santo Tomas
Ranked #7 of 78 Hotels in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
1 review
“Beautiful hotel with exceptionally helpful staff.”
Reviewed 18 January 2014

Tomas and his staff were very polite and helpful. The rooms were well equipped and clean enough you could eat off the floor (I, of course, did not). The price at $85 was more than reasonable considering the lovely pool and gracious, warm breakfast. If you find yourself in San Jose, STAY HERE. You won't be disappointed

  • Stayed January 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Allthescreennamesare
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AdvisorHST, Owner at Hotel Santo Tomas, responded to this review, 19 January 2014
A Big shout out from Thomas, here in Sunny Costa Rica. Love your title and I will make sure my staff sees it. It's outstanding when , we have guests that really appreciate and value , what we are trying to deliver here at the hotel. I am so happy you did not have an unpleasant experience here and if you did, I would suggested that song for solving any situation, ( A spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down). Costa Ricans are very sensitive people and are just really warm and outgoing, so when they fell animosity towards them , they shut down. This is great travel advice for new travelers to the country so that they may have an exceptional experience , such as you did! Wonderful having such nice experienced international travelers stay with us. Again Thank You for the classy review and I look forward to seeing you both again! Warmest Regards Thomas
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English first
Edinburgh, United Kingdom
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 17 January 2014

Stayed at Hotel Santo Tomas for 3 nights in December 2013. Fantastic service, very comfortable rooms and great value for money. The hotel is an interesting building and the staff make it feel personal. Very well organised throughout; front desk, kitchen, cleaning, tours, onward travel. Staff are friendly, polite, helpful and want you to enjoy your stay. I enjoyed talking with Eliomar who organised my day tour to Arenol and also with Miguel, Mauricio, Jose and Thomas. Thomas offered to store my winter clothing until I was leaving CR and was very helpful and knowledgeable about onward travel. Great after service.

  • Stayed December 2013, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Martin H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AdvisorHST, Owner at Hotel Santo Tomas, responded to this review, 19 January 2014
Hi Martin, WOW what a great review ! Thank you so much. It's wonderful when we have travelers, that understand how currency exchanges function and if there is any hitch in their travel plans, make the most of it, especially if the staff are really trying hard to make things work. It shows they are international travelers with a high level of emotional maturity , my staff and I really appreciate that. Everyone has a great time , just as you mentioned. We have our free baggage storage along , with the fast, reliable FREE Wi-Fi and Free Hot cooked breakfast . Jeez your review is so well written and covers it all. Again Thank You so much ! Warmest Regards Thomas
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San Diego, California
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 January 2014

MAKE SURE YOU ARE WILLING TO PAY MORE THAN THE LISTED PRICES IF YOU STAY HERE or you might get hosed the way my husband and I did.

The hotel requires that you pay the cost of your entire stay in two installments; half when you make the reservation and half when you check in - and here's where we got our first surprise.

Our stay started out badly when we arrived at the hotel after a flight from San Diego to find that the room for which we thought we had arranged had been given to someone else. We spent two nights in a different room (which created problems for us, as we are light sensitive and the window faced East) before getting the originally promised room (which let in much less light). Both rooms were clean, but the entire situation cast a pall over the start of our vacation. Because of the problem, we did not pay the second half of the bill until further into the trip.

Thus our surprise about the money occurred as a result of our paying for two tours we arranged through the hotel and paid with our credit card. All hotel rates and tour costs are quoted by the hotel in dollars, so the receipt we got for the two tours said that we paid $478. A couple of days later, we checked our account to make sure everything got posted correctly and were surprised to find a charge for $498. We assumed it was simply a typo and went to the desk to have it corrected. Everywhere we went, the standard "average" exchange rate was 500 colones to the US dollar. Imagine our surprise when we found out that the hotel had billed the credit card in colones (not on the receipt we got) at the rate of 515.75 colones to the dollar - thus, the $20 difference. When my husband (a very even-tempered person; I'm the one with the temper) asked Tom, the hotel's owner, about this, he got extremely defensive and hostile. Needless to say, it did not go well. This same situation applied to the payments of both parts of our bill, which were also billed to our credit card in colones (the hotel’s policy, which is on their website, is to take only credit cards, NO CASH, even if you have enough dollars or colones to pay in cash). Of course, we had no choice but to pay the rest of our hotel bill on the card (and got hosed again). We had been told by the hotel that they were unable to put through a credit card charge in dollars. We later found out that most, if not all, credit card systems allow a choice between dollars and colones. It would appear that the Santo Tomas had made a conscious decision to bill only in colones.

The hotel's good points: It has a good location in terms of being only four blocks from the Avenida Central pedestrian shopping area, a number of parks, the Teatro Nacional, and the Pre-Colombian Gold Museum, as well as other sights. The staff are helpful and friendly and the desk staff speak good English. As I stated earlier, the rooms are clean, well-maintained, and comfortable. If you want to keep some of your own food (e.g., if you have special food needs), they will let you store any perishables in their refrigerator. They also provide microwaves on each of the two floors. There are also several markets within easy walking distance. I'm an ice cream fan and there was an ice cream store a block and a half around the corner. The free WiFi works very well, both in your room and the public areas. The friends we were traveling with discovered that someone had stolen some of their money from their room. The owner not only found and fired the offender, he made good on the amount stolen.

The bad points: As I said, they charge you a premium to use your credit card and their payment policy forces you to do so. The neighborhood has been described as sketchy and I have to agree. However, my husband and I walked around at night and had no problems. That said, I would not walk in the neighborhood alone at night. The included breakfast had a small menu: the typical Costa Rican breakfast of fruit juice, coffee, eggs and "Gallo Pinto;" fried or scrambled eggs; or cereal. You could also get fruit and toast, coffee, and tea. However, when I asked for a glass of milk, I was told that milk was only available for the cereal (my husband had to settle for non-dairy creamer for his coffee, which he didn't like). We were told that the reason for this is so that the staff can easily account for the milk used for each bowl of cereal (a set amount), which they wouldn't be able to do if they served varying amounts of for coffee or drinking. That may be all well and good for the staff and their inventory, but it isn't very guest service oriented. The hotel's website claims "our chef (worked at the Marriott and the Intercontinental to name a few) prepares wonderful, healthy foods and all served in a nice size for a reasonable price." We ate in the restaurant that first night and it was nothing to write home about. We found other places with better food at better prices. There's a sports bar called Chubb's that is within easy walking distance and has great chicken wings and the Poas bar and restaurant across the street serves a barbequed pork sandwich that I really enjoyed. The shower did not keep an even temperature or spray; one shower that I took varied from tepid to warm, never hot, while my husband took one that varied from cold to scorching. There are also no blackout drapes, which my husband suggested to the owner be added (he reacted positively to the suggestion). The pool isn't really large enough to swim in (though they have a nice spa attached to it) and the fitness room does not have a treadmill (probably to save on electricity, as there were no electrically run machines in the room).

I also must do a mea culpa. We were in such a hurry to get to the airport for our flight home (had to get up at 4:15am) that we neglected to leave the tip for the gentleman who did a very good job of cleaning our room. I feel terrible but don't know how to fix it.

My husband and I have traveled a lot over the years. Would we stay here again? Because of the payment policy, NOT ON YOUR LIFE!

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank Valerie O
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AdvisorHST, Owner at Hotel Santo Tomas, responded to this review, 19 January 2014
valo, This is from Tomas the owner, Thank you for your review, even-though I have never had someone write such a long review or be as demanding as you and your husband were, I'll do my best to respond. First, Your title is incorrect, Below you say, (standard "average" exchange rate was 500 colones ) In all countries there is a buy and sell rate. I tried to explain it to the both of you, but as you had not followed nay any of the hotels policies and I quote (Because of the problem, we did not pay the second half of the bill until further into the trip.) You received an upgraded room at no extra cost when you arrived on the Dec.28 and departed on Jan, the 10th. Christmas , busiest time of the year. The following morning , in the breakfast area you came over and not a good morning , nothing nice, just angry. What did you say in your review and I quote ( entire situation cast a pall over the start of our vacation) this is what happened to my staff and myself that you were not nice to. You even YELLED at one of my front desk staff and told him you were going to shred us in Trip Advisor, I have it on video tape. If everything was so bad, why didn't you leave. You had not paid the second half of the bill?
Anyway to finish this up, it was just so pleasant to see you every morning and to hear your critic of how things were. I STRONGLY URGE all readers to check reviewers profiles to get a feel for the re viewer's personality. This will help to determine if it is applicable to your needs. Thomas
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sydney
1 review
Reviewed 16 January 2014

We loved our stay here. The room was super comfortable and the owner personally greeted us in the morning at breakfast. He was extremely friendly and had excellent advice for travelling in Costa Rica in general.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank hfra3045
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AdvisorHST, Owner at Hotel Santo Tomas, responded to this review, 19 January 2014
Hi Hfra3045, I thoroughly enjoy meeting our guests in the morning over breakfast and assisting in any manner I can. Sometimes just a small tip from a local can make a big difference in your travel experience! Great Review Thank You , Safe travels Thomas
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Ripon, Wisconsin
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
Reviewed 16 January 2014

Hotel Santo Tomas is charming, comfortable, and affordable. Located in the Center of San Jose, it's an easy walk from the Avenida Centrale shopping district, and several museums. Host Tomas is an American ex-pat who has spent years in Costa Rica. Ask him about the history of the building.

The hotel's restaurant is excellent. Try the Sea Bass Maitre. We would definitely stay here again.

  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Sakrison
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AdvisorHST, Owner at Hotel Santo Tomas, responded to this review, 19 January 2014
Hi Sakrison, Short, well written and a very nice review. Thank You so much ! Thomas
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Rome
Level 1 Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 12 January 2014

Great service and place. Perfect location. Helpful staff and owner. Really worth it for a good price... I would not spend much time looking for hotels since this one offers all that is needed for your stay in San Jose! Pura Vida!!!

  • Stayed August 2013
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
Thank Brunne
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AdvisorHST, Owner at Hotel Santo Tomas, responded to this review, 13 January 2014
Buongiorno Brunne ! Love your title , it shows you genuinely appreciate what we have been doing here at the Santo Tomas for the past 24 years. All the Freebies we throw in really help to make a travelers vacation a nice experience. This is very rewarding for myself and staff, I will be sure that they see your review . Thank you so much ! Warmest Regards Thomas
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Sacramento, California
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 11 January 2014

We had been told at the beginning of our trip not to stay in downtown San Jose as it was dirty, unattractive, and dangerous. My husband and I are pretty well-traveled on the budget travel circuit; however, this being our first international trip with our 5-year-old daughter, we stayed in a suburb near the university at a nice hotel our first night which I found incredibly dull, but safe and quiet. At the end of our ~2 week trip, we were feeling confident in ourselves and our daughter (who is a great traveler, it turns out. whew!), and decided to stay at Santo Tomas to save some money, be closer to the airport, and have to see a different part of San Jose. We unfortunately ended up arriving quite late as our bus from Quepos was delayed, so didn't get to see much. It didn't seem that bad downtown, really. A lot of people had just gotten off work and were walking around and waiting for buses or grabbing some dinner. The central park/plaza looked pretty nice and there were a couple of historic-looking buildings although it wasn't like the lovely colonial-type cities you see elsewhere in Latin America. In any case, we arrived at Santo Tomas at about 7, and were well-prepared for the "dodgy" area from the reviews here. It was a pretty run-down area, which both prostitutes and a guy digging in the trash next door, but the street itself was pretty quiet and close to busier streets with lots of people walking around. I don't know, maybe I have lived in some fairly dodgy places in past years...but I didn't feel any more unsafe than in any other urban area. Obviously, you have to be aware and have your game face on, but we walked @ 4 blocks to and from a restaurant and felt fine about it.

The hotel itself is secure. The front gate is locked and we were immediately buzzed in on arrival. Inside, we were impressed with the beautifully restored historic building (we live in a 100-year-old house, so we can appreciate a building like Santo Tomas). The concierge, Ricardo, at first could not find our reservation for a room with 2 beds and suggested we take a single with a crib for our 5-year-old (who was quite insulted). We said we'd go elsewhere if that were the case, and although it seemed like it took some effort, Ricardo was able to upgrade us to a lovely, spacious room with 2 large beds upstairs. Walking through the hotel, we were very impressed with the decor and details, the nice communal sitting areas and pool area, and the restaurant and bar looked nice too (although they were closed. Boo!). Bathroom was nice, everything was quiet and comfortable, no complaints there. Ricardo was very friendly and helpful.

A couple of things that irked me: -- the restaurant being closed even though the hotel seemed mostly booked. I don't get it. -- signs in the lobby requesting that we tip the concierge for carrying our bags seemed tacky in my opinion. I know tipping it not totally customary in CR; however, I would recommend to either charge for the service in a straight-forward way, or don't offer it. If the service seems exceptional, people will tip. That is the whole point of tipping! -- we had arranged for the taxi driver that dropped us off to take us in the airport in the morning for $20. When we arrived downstairs to meet him that morning, we surprised to there were 2 taxis there. Turned out Ricardo had called us one as well, even though we hadn't requested him to. He must have overheard us talking about it or something (very conscientious of him). Anyway, when we told the morning guy (didn't catch his name) that we were going to honor our arrangement with the other taxi, he was very annoyed with us and insisted we had had Ricardo call us a cab. When we said we didn't, he seemed like he didn't believe us and fairly rude about it, like we were trying to pull a fast one or something. I should also mention that their cab would have cost us $30 instead of $20. The incident was pretty insulting.

That said, I would certainly give this place another chance, and would stay here again in a nice room. It's close to things and is very nice and well-kept. It seems like even if you wanted to hang around the hotel all day it would be a nice place to do it. All in all I would recommend for any traveler or family with realistic expectations of the inherent grittiness of most urban areas. It was a very nice hotel.

Room Tip: We were on the 2nd floor in a large double not too near the street, I think. It was nice.
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  • Stayed January 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Jessie2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
AdvisorHST, Owner at Hotel Santo Tomas, responded to this review, 13 January 2014
Hi Jessie 2014 and Family ! Gosh, I gotta write a Quirky reply for a quirky review for a Quirky Hotel HA ! To keep it short and to the point, when you arrived Ricardo had to move around 3 or 4 different reservations to place you in a room he thought that would be quiet and meet your requirements, you also received a very nice FREE upgrade from Ricardo - YEAH Ricardo ! Sorry it took him a few minutes. Restaurant is closed on Mondays, it shows this on the web sites where bookings are made , sorry it was missed. The restaurant is a great place to have a nice meal by the pool and soak in the hot tub during Happy Hours with Adrian the Bartender from 3 to 7 pm. In reference to the taxi incident , had to be just a communication mistake, or that taxi was for someone else, Jose the night guy just maybe mixed it up. We don't call taxis without a client asking ,. I don't like problems and noise in the morning early and angry taxi drivers either. Just a mix up no problem. I apologize for that.Yes, you most likely had a pirate taxi, they can be 20 or 60 dollars, you have to be careful. Costa Rica official taxis are 30 dollars, you can pay with a credit card and we know who takes you to the airport. This is really important if you leave a bag, camera or other important items ( Passports ) in the taxi. This happens more times than you can image and when we receive the frantic call, we radio the driver and he goes back and returns the items. Happy ending to the trip instead of a disaster! All in all by the end of the review , I think we came out smelling pretty good. I hope to you meet you and your family next time. Thank You, Safe Travels: Thomas
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Additional Information about Hotel Santo Tomas

Property: Hotel Santo Tomas
Address: Avenue 7 Between Streets 3 and 5 | Barrio Amon, 250 meters west of INS Building, San Jose 10101, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of San Jose > San Jose Metro > San Jose
Amenities:
Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #7 of 78 Hotels in San Jose
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Hotel Santo Tomas 3*
Number of rooms: 30
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A great downtown location in San Jose, Costa Rica. Hotel Santo Tomas provides free hot cooked to order breakfast, FREE Wi-Fi 20 Mbps, security box, swimming pool, hot Jacuzzi, gym, secure on site parking. Only four blocks from San Jose, Central Avenue and an easy stroll to most local attractions. Offering 30 non smoking rooms and has been newly renovated and expanded. Also available 24/7 : tour, travel & car rental services, currency exchange and laundry for our guests. Come and enjoy our wonderful open air gardens, flowers and covered terraces all to enjoy the volcano views here at Hotel Santo Tomas in San Jose, Costa Rica. ... more   less 
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