“A welcoming hotel with colourful villas amid 40 acres of tropical gardens, with a spoiling spa, delectable Costa Rican cuisine and breath-taking views over San José”
Xandari's warm and welcoming accommodation is the antithesis of bland, soulless hotel rooms. Here, each of the 24 villas is individually designed by architect Sherrill Broudy. His signature swooping walls and undulating wooden roofs reflect the garden's organic shapes and "the gentleness of the Costa Rican people". These dynamic spaces are naturally cooled (heat drifts upwards to the ceiling) by the floor-to-ceiling windows that also bring in tremendous views of the valley below. Furniture is carved from local woods, and there are lovely details like stained glass windows and plants.
The villas come in 5 categories, but even the basic Prima rooms are very spacious. Prima Plus rooms are larger and have sitting areas. We were in an Ultra room, which was enormous! Only Ultra Plus rooms have bathtubs, which are beautifully set with views onto their private courtyard garden. There's also a 2-bedroom villa, The Star (sleeps up to 6 adults and 2 kids in 1 kingsize bed, 2 queensize beds and 2 single sofabeds), with a sitting/dining area and a walled garden. Prima #20 is a circular, thatched wooden hut, and is the only room to lack a valley view; it is, however, incredibly popular amongst birdwatchers as it looks directly into the thick undergrowth (please request on enquiry).
The all-white villas are decorated with a wall of bold colour, as well as vivid paintings and wall hangings by Sherrill’s wife Charlene - all inspired by her delight in Costa Rican culture. Each villa is entirely individual, but all have comfortable kingsize (or twin) beds, wicker armchairs for relaxing, a desk for writing, and a wide balcony with a view over the valley below. You also get loungers for sprawling and gazing at the birds flitting from tree to tree. Costa Rican textiles are used everywhere, though the bed linen is simple white cotton, and your bed will be adorned with tropical flowers when you arrive.
Bathrooms have showers. Some of them imaginatively designed as organic pods; others have a curved turquoise wall which continues outside into the private courtyard garden, making it seem like an outdoor shower. All are decorated with miniscule bright tiles.
You'll also find a minibar with complimentary soft drinks, and a kitchenette with basic amenities (a coffee maker, a small refrigerator, cutlery, crockery, coffee, sugar, tea and bottled water). The Star has a full kitchen.
Dinner is served from 6pm to 9pm (later in high season). The darkened dining room is spread over 3 tiers, all are open along one wall to the valley; once darkness falls, it’s a pleasure to look out over the twinkling lights of San José. You'll need to wrap up from May to September, and do ask staff for a blanket if necessary.
The menu offers a good choice of Costa Rican specialities as well as simple European-style dishes - most containing organic produce grown on Xandari’s grounds, and all fresh and delicious. The chef has been with Xandari since the beginning, and his standards are high. We loved the Casados - the ubiquitous Costa Rican dish of chicken or beef (or here, deliciously grilled fish) with rice, refried beans, salad and tacos, all served on a banana leaf and wooden platter. Our chocolate macadamia cake was delicious, too.
During high season (December-March) you can’t reserve for dinner, so you might have to wait for 30 minutes for a table. However this gives you the opportunity to enjoy a cocktail in the lounge, or you can consider room service as an alternative. Make sure you try the caipirinhas and mojitos - both superb; the fresh fruit juices are also sublime. Order a plate of guacamole and salsa with homemade corn chips to stave off hunger pangs.
Lunch is uplifting: you can properly appreciate the view during the day and the Pura Vida salad is superb. The menu is much lighter than the evening one, and features a range of sandwiches and tacos, as well as some snacks; we really enjoyed our chicken enchiladas and fresh, crispy salad straight from the gardens.
Breakfast (included), served 7-10am, is great. You get a plate of fresh fruit (papaya, pineapple, strawberry, banana, watermelon and mango on our visit), fresh orange juice, tea or coffee, homemade muffins and bread (thick with crunchy macadamia nuts), a plate of cold ham or chicken, hard boiled eggs, and homemade granola. For a small extra price, you can order a standard cooked breakfast, eggs any way, or pancakes.
Those in The Star have a full kitchen (oven, microwave, fridge/freezer), so you could opt to self-cater if you wanted.
Children are welcome at Xandari, and will like the bright interiors and fun sculptures around the property. Lots of families stay over Christmas, and during July and August. And you're just a 20-minute taxi ride from the international terminal.
Nearly all rooms can accommodate 2 children but we recommend the Ultra and Ultra Plus rooms for families, as they are the most spacious. The 2-bedroom villa, The Star, can sleep up to 6 adults and 2 kids in 1 kingsize bed, 2 queensize beds and 2 single sofabeds; it also has a full kitchen with a microwave.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
There's a kids' menu of sandwiches, chicken, fish & chips, pasta and smoothies.
The pools are unfenced