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“Good safe and central location. I'd stay here again.”
Review of Hotel Presidente

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Hotel Presidente
Ranked #5 of 77 Hotels in San Jose
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 22 May 2009

Stayed at this hotel our first and last night in Costa Rica. It is as centrally located as you can get and there were no issues with feeling unsafe at any time. There is a small gated and well-guarded parking lot with the entrance at the side of the hotel. Parking is free. The hotel and rooms are very very clean and beds were comfortable, typical of a hotel geared mainly toward business travelers. Staff was helpful. Hotel restaurant - breakfast was great, soup was great, avoid the steak wrap bc the steak was cold and tasted like pickled beef jerky, unless that's something you would like.

My only warning is not about the hotel itself, but that San Jose's streets are arranged in an unusual manner. The streets are not labeled consecutively , but by even numbers, then odd numbers (10, 8, 6, 4, 2nd St. then 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11th St.). There are NO street signs, so I had to count streets while my boyfriend drove. The hotel is on Central Avenue and 7th street, and we spent half an hour zigzagging around before we were able to access it. I'm sure if we had taken a cab it would not have been an issue.

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank DrCrazyA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 21 May 2009

A clean and comfortable hotel with a friendly, helpful staff. Although the manager has stated on this site that soundproof windows were being installed, this did not seem to be the case in our street-front room and the noise was quite a bother, as in the case in many downtown hotels of course. Fortunately, we had earplugs and recommend their use to anyone who doesn't want to be bothered by noise especially during sleeping hours. The front-desk staff was particularly helpful to us in solving a couple of small problems, unrelated to the hotel itself, and that is the kind of service that guests remember and appreciate.

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank hopalongtime
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 May 2009

I have stayed at the presidente many times and each time it just gets better, the slightest problem gets fixed instantly and the Hotel management take serious note to travellers needs and exceed them.
A group of six of us visted for the weekend, Jonathan helped us with tours and taxis and reservations. The Front desk guys are superb.The news cafe would not be out of place on south beach or downtown new york.
For the sake of a couple of bucks upgrade to a suite, We did not but I have before and they have some great features.
This hotel is slap bang in the middle of one of the busiest pedestrian walkways in Central america, that is what makes it fun, sit back have an imperial and watch the world go by.
The management staff are superbly attenative to detail. Over the last five years I have witnessed constant improvements and changes. This is a great capital hotel.

Enjoy

  • Stayed: May 2009, travelled with friends
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Thank Ianriding
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2009

good hotel if you're looking for a clean and comfy but value for money hotel in san jose. situated in centre of town but convenient still for airport.

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank claireyl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 May 2009

After sleeping in the airport and almost missing half our perfectly planned trip we pulled up at Hotel Presidente. We pulled off a very busy street in a busy part in the middle of San Jose to a large gate. It looks beautiful once you get closer! The staff was less than excited to see us but they did us the favor of at least answering basic questions for us. Our huge room was great overlooking the busy foot traffic of the pedestrian only made street. The hot tub was closed for repairs (bummer). We ate in the hip Press Cafe later that night and loved the open air with salsa music. Staff here were very nice. Transportation arrangments were great and the beds were so comfortable!! Be prepared for what sounded like late night cat calls on the street below. It was easy to sleep through. We enjoyed the stay here and it's reasonably priced!

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled as a couple
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Thank BigAl-N-DaHouse
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 April 2009

Just returned from seven nights in San Jose and wanted to add my two-cents worth to the reviews by others. My wife and I travel extensively and I've written a number of other reviews on our travels. While we usually enjoy staying in the all-inclusive beach resorts, this time we wanted to stay in a central location and explore the country by car. I hope this review helps my fellow travelers.

Driving: I have mixed feelings about renting a car. We did rent a car from Alamo but with the inexpensive buses and taxis you may be better off depending on them. We read many other reviews about driving in San Jose and were a little apprehensive but having driven all over the world we decided to take the chance. Yes, it's true -- Ticos are very aggressive drivers and the roads are not up to U.S. standards but it's not as bad as some of the reviews would have you think. Italian drivers are far more aggressive. If you driven in Italy -- you will find driving in Costa Rica a piece of cake. The city streets are narrow but no more so than streets in many other countries. True, there are potholes but nothing like those found in Jamaica. Bottom line -- if you have no experience driving in other countries you may want to forgo the rental car. If you do have some experience, you will find driving in Costa Rica doesn't present a real problem. The worst part about driving is that the roads are very poorly marked. You will get lost. It's almost inevitable. You will need a good road map and if your rental agency offers GPS -- take it. It will be well worth the added cost. Radar is everywhere so follow the posted speed limits. If stopped for speeding, don't try to bribe the officer. Just accept the ticket. It can be paid at your rental agency and tickets are usually inexpensive. Rental cars are not that expensive but your insurance probably won't cover you in Costa Rica so take the full-coverage insurance. It will run you an additional $25 to $35 per day but I wouldn't recommend renting a car without it. You won't find a large number of service stations so I would suggest filling up with "regular" when your tank gets below one-half full. Gasoline is a little higher than in the U.S. but the cars are small and don't use that much. My suggestion on renting a car would be to do so if you have some experience driving in other countries and your group is large enough to save you money on the tours. If it is just you and your significant other you will be better off depending on taxis and buses. You can get to just about anywhere in San Jose for under $5.

Hotel: We stayed all seven nights in the Presidente in downtown San Jose. I can't say enough about the hotel. It's not a resort so if you are looking for a resort, stay somewhere on the Pacific. The Presidente is clean, safe, and in a great location. When we arrived we asked how much additional it would cost to upgrade to a junior suite. We were told the additional cost would be $32 per day so we asked to see both the standard room and the junior suite. The clerk simply said, they had a junior suite available and that they were upgrading us at no cost. The suite was very nice and roomy but the standard rooms are very acceptable. Go for the suite if you need a little extra room. The food in the restaurant is reasonable and tasty. The bar/restaurant overlooks the "pedestrian only" street where most of the shops and vendors are located. It's a very busy area where you can sit and enjoy the atmosphere. You will meet many fellow U.S. citizens in the bar and the "people watching" is entertaining in itself. The hotel itself is rated four stars.

The hotel will exchange U.S. currency for "colones" and a reasonable rate and I would suggest using colones for your purchases. It's just much easier to keep track of your money and you never know what exchange rate you will get in the shops. You can also ask the hotel to make a copy of the pertinent pages of your passport so you can carry the copy and leave your passport in your room safe. It will prevent losing your passport or having it stolen. Another nice service the hotel offers is the ability to pay your departure tax at the hotel rather than standing in line at the airport. Reliable in-room Wi-Fi and breakfast are included in the cost. We will stay there again. I think it is probably one of the best hotel values in San Jose.

Casinos: Gambling is legal in Costa Rica and there is a nice casino in the Presidente hotel. Some of the games are a little different. Blackjack, for instance, is called Rummy but the rules are almost identical to Blackjack played everywhere else in the world. Roulette is more like Bingo where numbers are drawn from a cage rather than from a wheel. Poker machines are everywhere but slot machines (one-armed bandits) are illegal. Still, many casinos have slot machines -- they just pay the fine and get on with business. Can't tell you much more about the casinos because I really didn't spend any time in them.

Safety: I'm going to spend a little more time on safety than I normally do because it seems to be a major concern for most visitors. Violent crime in Costa Rica is almost non-existent but there is plenty of petty theft. The reason is not that police protection is inadequate but that Costa Rica doesn't have the facilities to jail violators. They won't even arrest a thief unless the value of goods stolen exceed $800. They will prosecute and punish him but they don't have the infrastructure to immediately incarcerate him. Freedom is very highly regarded and arrests are a last resort. The exception is any kind of violence. If blood is drawn, even in self-defense, expect to be arrested. Violence is simply not tolerated. Keeping that in mind, most thefts are snatch and run so don't wear necklaces etc. There are muggins but they are non-violent. If you are seen flashing large sums of money you risk the possibility of being mugged. The thieves accomplish this in small groups of 4 or 5 persons. They will surround and physically hold their prey captive while one thief goes through their prey's pockets. They won't injure you because they know the consequences for "drawing blood", however insignificant. Now - please don't feel like you will encounter such a problem. The simple safety precautions you would take in most foreign countries and many cities in the U.S. will suffice. Don't wear visible jewelery that can be snatched by a running thief and don't flash large sums of money. Men should keep their wallet in a front pocket and women should avoid carrying purses. Leave nothing visible in your rental car and don't leave it unattended for any length of time and you will be okay. Another thing to watch for if you have a rental car is for thieves who will puncture a tire knowing it will go flat when you get a few miles down the road. They will then pull in behind you as if they wanted to help and take anything of value

The police force is divided in to "policia municipal" and "policia furerza". The municipal police are unarmed and have limited powers of arrest. They are the police you will find walking the beat. The "fuerza" (or police with force) are armed and have unlimited powers of arrest. There is a good deal of corruption, especially with the municipal police but it shouldn't be a concern to you. The corruption is usually directed at street vendors, etc. where the police will want a piece of the action. The policia municpal will be found constantly walking the pedestrian shopping area and keep an eye out for any problems. In the city of San Jose you will encounter beggars as you do in Mexico but they are non-existent outside the city. Just say "no", ignore them, and keep walking. Bottom line on safety -- you will be safe if you exercise good safety practices. Here are my ten (well, nine) commandments for safety:

1. Don't wear easily removable jewelery.
2. Don't make it easy for pick-pockets.
3. Don't leave anything visible in your rental car or leave it unattended unless absolutely necessary.
4. Don't pull over on the highway for anyone other than police.
5. Avoid driving at night -- not because of crime but because of wild animals crossing the highway and potholes.
6. Don't get into conversations with people who approach you on the street.
7. Don't carry your passport (see info on the hotel above).
8. Petty thieves are "predators" who look for an easy "prey". Don't look like a prey! Walk with confidence & purpose and be attentive to your surroundings.
9. Keep your valuables in the hotel safe and carry only as much money as you will need for the day.

I know this section will make it appear that Costa Rica is filled with thieves on every corner, and that isn't the case. Most Ticos are honest, friendly, and helpful but there are always a few that you will have to watch out for. Simply exercise the precautions you would exercise in any big city and you will be fine. I personally never felt threatened in any way and encountered no problems whatsoever.

Food & Drink: You will find plenty of good restaurants in San Jose but Costa Rica is not know for its food. Costa Rican cuisine is pretty bland by North American standards but North American style cuisine is served everywhere and the city is filled with McDonalds, Burger Kings, Pizza Huts, KFCs, etc. The fresh fruits and vegetables are excellent! You won't go hungry. Try the "Fago Brasil" if you like Brazilian style steak houses. It's a little pricey but very nice. You will also find all the North American liquors and even a few North American beers. "Imperial" is the most popular Costa Rican beer and is actually pretty good. "Pilsner" is the other brand you will find most like North American beer. Food and drink prices are about what you would pay in the states. The coffee is excellent and you will certainly want to bring back all you can carry. "Britt" is the most popular brand. You will get the best prices not from the gift shops but the super markets which you will find everywhere.

Tipping: Gratuities of about 10% are included in all restaurant checks. Still, we left an additional tip if the service was good. Tipping taxi drivers is not expected but once again, we did tip the few taxi drivers we used. Bellhops usually get about $1 per bag.

Shopping: There isn't a great deal of shopping in Costa Rica. Most goods are imported and with the import tax will be more expensive than goods found in the U.S. Clothing and such found on the pedestrian street are less expensive than similar items found in the U.S. but the quality is much lower. You will find some of the handicrafts offered by the street vendors unique. My wife purchase some beautiful hand-painted feathers for gifts. They are peacock feathers, elaborately painted in acrylic that are absolutely beautiful. They sell for the equivalent of under $10. (This particular vendor is a nice lady that will pass by the Presidente and other hotels on the pedestrian street displaying her goods.) If you are a smoker -- you will be in heaven. The cost of cigarettes, such as Marlboro, are $1.20 per pack and you will find Cuban cigars everywhere. If you bring back cigarettes from the duty-free stores at the airport for $12 per carton, expect to pay the duty when you return to the U.S. You are allowed to bring back one carton per person. The duty is $4 per carton for any additional cartons. Still, $16 per carton is a big savings over U.S. prices. There are also a number of malls within the city. The "Multiplex" is the newest mall and is still undergoing construction. The "San Pedro" mall is another major mall where you will find many of the stores you will find in the U.S.

Sights & Tours: There isn't a great deal to do in the city of San Jose but the hotel offers all the popular tours at reasonable prices. If you have a rental car you will find a trip to the rain forest and a couple of the volcanoes within easy driving distance. The rain forest is located to the east of San Jose and the road is newly paved and excellent. You will take a 45 minute guided walking tour through the rain forest. The guides are English speaking and very knowledgeable. We spotted sloths, anteaters, toucans, and even a bushmaster. After the walking tour you will take a guided cable-tram through the forest canopy. We enjoyed our trip to the rain forest. We also took a trip to Poas Volcano. The trip is over some pretty washed-out roads but the route is well marked but the entry fee is inexpensive and worth the trip. In San Jose you will be within a couple of hours of both coasts. If you want to go to the beach, my recommendation would be on the Pacific side in the city of "Jaco" (pronounced "Haco"). It's about a two hour drive on narrow roads but with some very nice scenery. The Caribbean side of the country also has beaches but the culture is entirely different. The Carribean side is mostly populated by Dominicans and Jamaicans with ragae music and that type lifestyle. The Caribbean side is much more "third world" than the Pacific side and most North Americans prefer the Pacific. I think what we enjoyed most was just taking it easy at the hotel, having a long "free" breakfast, meeting other travelers, and "people-watching" in the hotel bar and restaurant.

Prostitution: Okay, guess I have to include this topic in my review. I was traveling with my wife so this certainly wasn't something of which I partook but I feel obligated to cover it. Prostitution is legal in Costa Rica. "Pimping" is illegal. The ladies are issued an identity card and provided with regular health inspections. Contrary to what you may have read, you and your family will not be accosted by hookers on the street. The ladies are found in the single clubs, hotel bars (not the Presidente) and men's clubs around the city. Most are Colombian but there are a few Ticos and Nicos (Nicaraguans). Just about all are in their 20s and very attractive. Most of the hotels will allow them to visit you but they are very cautious. They take the lady's identity card, run a computer check for any problems, and issue her a "visitante" badge that she must wear. She is only allowed in the hotel when accompanied by you and you are responsible for her. Okay -- got that out of the way. Just wanted visitors to be aware of the situation. It won't even be noticeable to children so don't think that it will present a major problem.

Language: English is widely spoken at the hotels around San Jose and at many of the restaurants and attractions. Outside San Jose knowing at least some Spanish would be very helpful. Still, I was able to make myself clear enough at restaurants and service stations so that it really wasn't a problem. There are more U.S. expatriates living in Costa Rica than any other country on earth so most Ticos have at least learned to understand dealing with North Americans.

The Country: Will we go again? Absolutely! If you are looking for a lot of activity and the beach scene -- go to the Pacific side. If you are looking to socialize and relax -- San Jose will provide you with plenty of that. It's a big, congested city with a different way of life. If you are looking for it to be the same as the U.S. -- stay in the U.S. We enjoyed it because it is different. The country (outside the city) is beautiful and there is plenty to do and see. If you have the opportunity to visit Costa Rica -- do it! Exercise safety precautions but don't be afraid to enjoy the country and the culture. We had a great time!

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled on business
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17  Thank cdickerson
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 13 April 2009

We stayed at the President Hotel for a couple of nights this week. The hotel decor is not bad overall, it's very modern, trying to be minimalistic, however they took the concept a bit too far, as the rooms lacked a mirror (except the bathroom mirror), toiletries, and personality overall. There was no restaurant in the hotel (apart from a small café downstairs), nowhere to buy a cup of coffee or something to drink after 8.30pm, the gym is in desperate need of an update (and one of the machines was broken as well), the staff is TERRIBLE, not helpful at all and on the verge of being rude. One of the worst features of the hotel was the buffet breakfast, which was very poor in terms of selection, but also the food was horrible in terms of quality (the cheese tortillas on the first day had probably been there for a couple of days), I was told that for a cappuccino I would have to pay, but what I got was exactly the same as a "café con leche", which is free with breakfast. We tried to book a day tour to the Poas vulcano, and we were left waiting for more than one and a half hour for the driver who kept saying that he was "almost there". And when he arrived at almost 2pm we were asked for the same price as the full-day tour. What is worst is that when I complained about it, and the driver tried to help me getting a better deal, the hotel staff told him (in front of me) that it was OK, I could pay less, but he would have to cover the difference (which I wasn't going to let happen...). Anyway, when I looked at Expedia today I found out that the hotel is undergoing some renovation works and that's why it some of the installations didn't work, however nobody at the hotel told me about that when I made the booking (I booked directly from them) or when I arrived (and as well it didn't say anything on the website). I think that for a hotel that pretends to be one of the best and most elegant hotels in town and with the rate that they charge, the overall experience was horrible and completely unacceptable. Do not stay there!!!

  • Stayed: April 2009, travelled with family
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3  Thank De_paseo_CostaRica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
danielmh, Director at Hotel Presidente, responded to this reviewResponded 23 April 2009

After reading this review all the Hotel managers met so her recommendations and suggestions were immediately taken into consideration. Our Chef was very grateful for the feedback regarding the breakfast buffet, which will allow him to redesign it in order to improve the quality and expand the selection.
Regarding room décor, new mirrors for all the rooms have been ordered, and we are evaluating other improvements to be made in the near future to complement the new 32” LCD screens, premium mattresses and linen, and granite countertops and contemporary bathroom fixtures that were recently added to our guestrooms.

In regards to on the hours of operation of the News Café Restaurant, this visit took place during Easter (Called Semana Santa or Holly Week in Costa Rica), at a time when liquor (alcohol, beer, wine, etc) is prohibited (i.e. the bottles in all restaurants and supermarkets are sealed by personnel from City Hall), and client patronage is down overall. A bad judgment call was made on my part of closing the restaurant early (8:30 pm) in order to schedule maintenance and training, leaving our estimated guests with little option for late dinning since most restaurants in the area do not open at all these days. We (I) have learned from this feedback and will never again reduce the hours of service to our guests. Again, I am thankful for the suggestion that has helped us learn and improve.

Our gym equipment has been completely serviced, as it is done on a monthly basis. Mechanical/Electrical equipment tends to break down and thanks to the heads-up we have tended to the malfunctioning machine and updated all the rest.

Finally, we wish to clarify the incident regarding the tour. The tour was contracted directly to one of the drivers that operate from the Hotel without the Hotel’s mediation and against Hotel Policy. The Hotel never issued a voucher, nor did it charge or receive any payment for the service. Had the Hotel been hired, when the drivers tardiness first became apparent, the tour would have been assigned to another driver (two are stationed in the Hotel’s parking lot at all time, 24 hrs, as they also make runs to the airport and other destinations), but since the party contracted directly with this individual, it was out of the Hotel’s control and guarantee. Since then, the driver has been banned from working for and from the Hotel due to his breach of contract and policy with the Hotel.

Once again we appreciate our guests comments and suggestions.

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Additional Information about Hotel Presidente

Address: Central Avenue Blvd | 7th Street, San Jose 2922-1000, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of San Jose > San Jose Metro > San Jose
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Casino and Gambling Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#1 Casino Hotel in San Jose
#6 Romantic Hotel in San Jose
#8 Family Hotel in San Jose
Price Range: £64 - £126 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — Hotel Presidente 3.5*
Number of rooms: 82
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
An iconic landmark in San Jose, Costa Rica, Hotel Presidente is a contemporary urban retreat in the heart of downtown San Jose. With its vibrant ambiance, modern decor and great service, our 4-star upscale hotel is the symbol of hospitality and the cultural soul Costa Rica's capital city. Celebrated for our eco-friendly tourism practices, Hotel Presidente is a window into Costa Rica's land, people and heritage. Experience an unforgettable vacation adventure, romantic getaway or business trip at Hotel Presidente... the place to relax, connect, inspire, dine, and explore Costa Rica! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Presidente San Jose

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