Hotels & Resorts
Costa Rica offers accommodations for all budgets and tastes, from inexpensive hostels to posh all-inclusive resorts. Modern amenities such as air conditioning, telephones, cable TV and Internet are often provided in the most basic of hotels. Upscale resorts offer a number of additional features including onsite restaurants, swimming pools, child care and full-service spas.
Costa Rican aparthotels live up to their name, offering a combination of hotel amenities in apartment-style units. Aparthotels are located in and around San Jose and in some popular tourist destinations, and are a great deal for large families. Rent one, two or three-bedroom units for less than the price of individual hotel rooms. Budget-conscious families will also appreciate the kitchen facilities, allowing you to whip up inexpensive meals. Some aparthotels can be rented by the day, but you’ll snag a better deal renting by the week.
Bed & Breakfast
Bed and breakfast accommodations range from basic rooms with shared bathrooms to chic, boutique inns. Bed and breakfasts generally offer good value for the money, so if you want an affordable room by the ocean or a luxurious suite in the mountains, a bed and breakfast may be for you. Additionally, many upscale B&B’s and inns cater to romantic getaways and honeymoons, and special touches may include champagne upon arrival and breakfast in bed. Bed and breakfast facilities are generally very basic – be prepared to go off-site for meals, tours and entertainment.
Designed with eco-tourism in mind, most ecolodges are built in harmony with nature, using local and sustainable materials. They often feature native vegetation in their gardens and are usually good spots for wildlife watching. From charmingly rustic to downright deluxe, Costa Rica’s ecolodges strive to conserve resources and reduce waste – electronic keys control your room’s lights and air conditioning, staff use biodegradable cleaning products, and linens are washed once every three days to conserve water. Watch out for hotels and lodges that only pay lip service to the environment: when booking your trip, ask about a hotel’s eco-friendly policies; if they can’t give you specific examples, you may want to check them off your list. Ecolodge facilities range from basic to full-service – some lodges offer only rooms with breakfast while others have onsite restaurants, spas, swimming pools and more.
Hotels are the most prevalent lodging option in Costa Rica, and you’ll find everything from economical, one-star accommodations to breathtaking, five-star hotels. Whether you’re planning a family beach vacation or a romantic mountain getaway, you’re bound to find a hotel that suits your needs and budget. Most three star hotels have amenities such as air conditioning, an in-room safe and cable TV. Additionally, many mid-range options have swimming pools, private hiking trails and free Internet. Some of Costa Rica’s upscale hotels are actually a series of private villas, perfectly designed so you can enjoy beautiful views and cultivated seclusion. Before booking, ask about amenities or features that are important to you – hotel star ratings in Costa Rica may differ from what you’re used to back home, so it’s important to clarify your needs.
Hostels are great options for budget travelers in Costa Rica. Most have communal rooms with bunk beds and cheap singles, doubles and triples. While there are some Hostelling International (HI) hostels in the country, independently-owned hostels tend to be less expensive. The majority of Costa Rica’s hostels are very accessible to public transportation, and popular destinations like Puerto Viejo, Tamarindo and Manuel Antonio are brimming with a variety to choose from. Some national parks have rustic lodges with shared rooms available for the same price as a hostel bed – these are great options for catching a good night’s sleep and enjoying a side of Costa Rica that few people have the chance to see. Hostel facilities vary, but most offer a communal kitchen, lounge room and a place to hang your hand-washed laundry out to dry.
Costa Rica’s all-inclusive resorts promise stunning locations, panoramic views and plenty of extras to complement your stay. Luxurious amenities may include gourmet restaurants, private hot springs, modern fitness facilities and even a championship golf course. You’ll find well-appointed rooms, with special touches like en suite hot tubs, fine linens and nightly turndown service. While many of Costa Rica’s resorts offer familiar luxuries, note that the Osa Peninsula’s all-inclusive resorts provide a more laid-back experience, similar to an ecolodge. Food is cooked with fresh, organic ingredients, daily activities revolve around the great outdoors, and air conditioning is replaced by cool ocean breezes. If certain comforts – like high thread-count sheets or 24-hour room service – are important, be sure to confirm availability in advance.
Tip: Reservations are a must, especially in the high season (December through April). If booking a trip during Christmas or Easter week, travelers should reserve rooms at least one to two months in advance. Many hotel websites have online reservation forms and provide fast booking confirmation. Visitors who prefer spontaneous travel should plan their trips during the green season (late May through November) when walk-in accommodations are easier to come by.