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Costa Rica Hotels

Costa Rica hotels and accommodations range from ultra luxurious to little beach side cabins. With new places being constructed all the time, and the 1,800 plus hotels to choose from it's not usually hard to find a room.

However, if you are traveling to a popular destination like Tamarindo, Monteverde, Quepos etc. during high season, it may be very difficult to find a room in your particular price bracket without reservations.

Anyway, there are many options to choose from including: luxury resorts, mid-range hotels, budget hotels, apartotels (hotel rooms outfitted like apartments), bed & breakfasts, eco-lodges, cabinas, and hostels.

NEW!! For accomodations by town, click this link: COSTA RICA HOTELS & RESORTS

I'll describe your options and give you a list of tips below.

So, to begin with you must select which type of accommodations you would like. While mega luxury resorts don't predominate like they do in Hawaii and certain parts of the Caribbean, there are certainly a few top-notch Costa Rica hotels and resorts to accommodate you like the Four Seasons and two Marriots.

This may be changing though as I knew of six new five-star luxury resorts under development along the Gulf of Papagayo when I was living there. Resort spas also fall into this category, with amenities galore and most are located just outside San Jose or on the Pacific coast.

If hotel chains aren't your thing, then there are also quite a few high-end Costa Rica hotels in the boutique category. These hotels often have a unique sense of style, charm, and flavor that make them popular among travelers. Also, these boutique Costa Rica hotels have much fewer rooms making them a more intimate choice.

The largest variety and best value among Costa Rica hotels are those in the mid-range price bracket, between $50 to $100 dollars. Many of the rooms that fall into this category are pretty decently accommodated and you can find rooms in this price range almost everywhere in the country. Still, every place differs, so it always pays to check out rooms or pictures ahead of time, as there is less uniformity in this price range than you might find in Europe or the States.

Budget minded people will find many Costa Rica hotels within their price range, however quality and amenities vary greatly. There may be cold water, probably there will be no air conditioning, and there may or may not be a fan.

It definitely pays to check your room before forking over any cash. When hotels in this price range say they have hot showers it often means there are electrical heat-coil units attached to the showerhead. Though these are jokingly referred to as 'suicide showers' I have never had a major problem. Just don't tinker with them while the water is running because they can zap you.

Cabinas also fall in the budget category of Costa Rica hotels and their market is generally vacationing locals. They are generally cheap and bare bones, often with cinder block construction and are usually connected, though sometimes they are actually separate cabins. Some cabinas are nicer though and don't fall into the same category as I've described, so it's best to check and note the prices.

Apartotels are just like they sound, hotel rooms that have apartment features like a full kitchen or kitchenette and sometimes furniture like sofas and additional rooms. Usually they also offer daily maid service. Rates are based on multi-day, week, or month long rentals making them an economical choice for family vacationers over other hotels in Costa Rica.

Bed and breakfasts are a somewhat more recent option, as their popularity has soared in the country. Though most are located around San Jose, they can be found in other parts of the country as well and are often owned by expats. Their prices vary from mid-range to quite high-end.

Another popular trend in Costa Rica hotels is that of the ecolodge, nature lodge, or wilderness resort which have been created in response to the growth in ecotourism. Usually nestled into the lush jungles and flora of this country, these ecolodges offer a great opportunity to observe and learn about the amazing animals of this country, from monkeys to toucans, in their natural habitat ' the beautiful, emerald rainforests. Regarding amenities, ecolodges vary from the very basic or ultra luxurious with prices to match. Even with moderately priced accommodations it's important to note that with guided tours, transportation to a lodge's remote location (sometimes by air or 4x4), and three meals a day, additional charges can add up quickly, so check with the lodge or travel agent booking your reservation beforehand. Lastly, be sure you know what you're getting into, because being located in the rainforest means constantly hot and humid weather, being located in the cloud forest means lots of precipitation and cool to chilly temperatures, lots of insects (mosquitoes and other biters), demanding treks to see flora and fauna, and transportation along rough, bumpy jungle roads. There are some luxurious, spa-like jungle resort options, just make sure to do sufficient research.

Hostels are some of the cheapest and most social options among Costa Rica hotels, and are especially appealing. I've definitely spent a good deal of time in hostels during my travels and have met fun, interesting people from around the world ' especially nice when you're traveling alone and looking for some company to go out to a bar or disco. Hostels can't be found in every part of the country, but most popular tourist spots will have one. You'll find most in San Jose, Puerto Viejo de Talamanca, Tamarindo, Manuel Antonio, Monteverde, and La Fortuna. Unfortunately, hostels in Costa Rica aren't as cheap as other Central American locales, with almost all charging over ten dollars and up to forty with the main draw being the backpacker atmosphere. If budget is a real issue, check out the smaller hotels and cabinas that may be able to offer better prices for similar accommodations.

Reservations for Costa Rica Hotels

Reservations are highly recommended if you're planning on traveling to Costa Rica during the dry-season, which is from December to April. This goes double for Christmas, Easter (Semana Santa), and on weekends. So this means get online, call your travel agent, or call the hotel direct to make your reservation. This may mean sending a deposit (you may have to ask), so be prepared to do so otherwise your room may be given to someone else. Call a few days before your arrival to confirm your reservation and be sure to bring your reservation papers with you to the hotel.

Rates for Costa Rica Hotels

Following the basic principles of supply and demand, lots of hotels have different rates for low or 'green' season, from May to October, versus high season or 'dry' season, from November to April. Rates can go up even more for Christmas, New Year, and Easter. In general, low season prices are around 20% less than those during high season. High-end Costa Rica hotels sometimes have shoulder season rates too, during the time between high and low season. If you find that no single rooms are available, try asking for a double at the same rate and you'll probably get it. Also, note that there is often a 16.39% room tax added to your bill in most hotels, though I didn't notice this as much in really cheap cabinas. Also, see if you are traveling with your significant other, see if you can get a single room rate instead of a double if you agree to a room with one bed, a 'matrimonial'.

Helpful tips for when you're staying in Costa Rica hotels:

  • A high price doesn't mean a room has air conditioning. Be sure to ask.
  • Make sure to look at several rooms in a hotel before making a decision. This is considered normal and is accepted as quality of rooms in Costa Rica hotels are known to differ, sometimes by a lot.
  • Some Costa Rican hotel staffs are not kind to guests, especially when notified of problems, which they often fail to fix.
  • You may encounter a hotel that fails to honor your reservation, though this problem is less common in higher end hotels.
  • Discounts and refunds are almost never offered, without regard for the situation or problem at hand.
  • The majority of hotels offer basic toiletries like soap and towels, but the lower the price the less likely they are to have everything, so it pays to bring your own.
  • Cold showers are the norm, especially in lowland areas. If you want a hot shower be sure to ask.
  • With electric coil showerhead water heaters (common in cheaper Costa Rica hotels), don't touch metal objects while showering or you could get a shock. Also, they can't heat large volumes of water, so the lower you keep the water pressure the warmer the water will be.
  • In moderate to low priced accommodations you may be provided a wastebasket for used toilet paper. Unless you want a backed up toilet, put the paper in the basket even though it's not exactly hygienic. It takes some getting used to, I know it did for me, but in the end a working toilet is much better than a plugged up one. Especially when you don't know the word for plunger in Spanish ;-) (it's 'bomba' or 'saca-mierda' as our neighbor told us, but DON'T use that last term ' it's not very polite haha. If you learn Spanish you can find out for yourself what it means literally.
  • Make sure your door will shut and lock securely, and that no one can gain access through a window.
  • Always keep your door locked.
  • Avoid leaving valuables in your room, and lock your possessions in your luggage when you leave the room if you have a padlock.
  • Check to see if there is a curfew. Not all hotels are open 24 hours a day and this can be an unpleasant surprise when you come back from partying at 4am to find yourself locked out.

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