Costa Rica Hotels
Costa Rica hotels and accommodations range from ultra luxuriousto little beach side cabins. With new places being constructed allthe time, and the 1,800 plus hotels to choose from it's not usuallyhard to find a room.
However, if you are traveling to a popular destinationlike Tamarindo,Monteverde, Quepos etc. during high season, it may be verydifficult to find a room in your particular price bracketwithout 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.
I'll describe your options and give you a list of tips below.
So, to begin with you must select which type of accommodations youwould like. While mega luxury resorts don't predominate likethey do in Hawaii and certain parts of the Caribbean, there arecertainly a few top-notch Costa Rica hotels and resorts toaccommodate you like the Four Seasons and two Marriots.
This may be changing though as I knew of six new five-starluxury resorts under development along the Gulf of Papagayo when Iwas living there. Resort spas also fall into this category, withamenities galore and most are located just outside San Jose or onthe Pacific coast.
If hotel chains aren't your thing, then there are also quite a fewhigh-end Costa Rica hotels in the boutique category. Thesehotels often have a unique sense of style, charm, and flavor thatmake them popular among travelers. Also, these boutique Costa Ricahotels have much fewer rooms making them a more intimatechoice.
The largest variety and best value among Costa Rica hotels arethose in the mid-range price bracket, between $50 to $100dollars. Many of the rooms that fall into this category are prettydecently accommodated and you can find rooms in this price rangealmost everywhere in the country. Still, every place differs, so italways pays to check out rooms or pictures ahead of time, as thereis less uniformity in this price range than you might find inEurope or the States.
Budget minded people will find many Costa Rica hotels withintheir price range, however quality and amenities vary greatly.There may be cold water, probably there will be no airconditioning, and there may or may not be a fan.
It definitely pays to check your room before forking over anycash. When hotels in this price range say they have hot showers itoften means there are electrical heat-coil units attached to theshowerhead. Though these are jokingly referred to as 'suicideshowers' I have never had a major problem. Just don't tinker withthem while the water is running because they can zap you.
Cabinas also fall in the budget category of Costa Ricahotels and their market is generally vacationing locals. They aregenerally cheap and bare bones, often with cinder blockconstruction and are usually connected, though sometimes they areactually separate cabins. Some cabinas are nicer though and don'tfall into the same category as I've described, so it's best tocheck and note the prices.
Apartotels are just like they sound, hotel rooms that haveapartment features like a full kitchen or kitchenette and sometimesfurniture like sofas and additional rooms. Usually they also offerdaily maid service. Rates are based on multi-day, week, or monthlong rentals making them an economical choice for familyvacationers over other hotels in Costa Rica.
Bed and breakfasts are a somewhat more recent option, astheir popularity has soared in the country. Though most are locatedaround San Jose, they can be found in other parts of the country aswell and are often owned by expats. Their prices vary frommid-range to quite high-end.
Another popular trend in Costa Rica hotels is that of theecolodge, nature lodge, or wilderness resortwhich 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 learnabout 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 ultraluxurious with prices to match. Even with moderately pricedaccommodations it's important to note that with guided tours,transportation to a lodge's remote location (sometimes by air or4x4), and three meals a day, additional charges can add up quickly,so check with the lodge or travel agent booking your reservationbeforehand. Lastly, be sure you know what you're getting into,because being located in the rainforest means constantly hot andhumid weather, being located in the cloud forest means lots ofprecipitation and cool to chilly temperatures, lots of insects(mosquitoes and other biters), demanding treks to see flora andfauna, and transportation along rough, bumpy jungle roads. Thereare some luxurious, spa-like jungle resort options, just make sureto do sufficient research.
Hostels are some of the cheapest and most social optionsamong Costa Rica hotels, and are especially appealing. I'vedefinitely spent a good deal of time in hostels during my travelsand have met fun, interesting people from around the world 'especially nice when you're traveling alone and looking for somecompany to go out to a bar or disco. Hostels can't be found inevery part of the country, but most popular tourist spots will haveone. 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 otherCentral American locales, with almost all charging over ten dollarsand up to forty with the main draw being the backpacker atmosphere.If budget is a real issue, check out the smaller hotels and cabinasthat may be able to offer better prices for similaraccommodations.
Reservations for Costa Rica Hotels
Reservations are highly recommended if you're planning ontraveling to Costa Rica during the dry-season, which is fromDecember to April. This goes double for Christmas, Easter (SemanaSanta), and on weekends. So this means get online, call your travelagent, or call the hotel direct to make your reservation. This maymean sending a deposit (you may have to ask), so be prepared to doso otherwise your room may be given to someone else. Call a fewdays before your arrival to confirm your reservation and be sure tobring your reservation papers with you to the hotel.
Rates for Costa Rica HotelsFollowing the basic principles of supply and demand, lots of hotelshave different rates for low or 'green' season, from May toOctober, versus high season or 'dry' season, from November toApril. Rates can go up even more for Christmas, New Year, andEaster. In general, low season prices are around 20% less thanthose during high season. High-end Costa Rica hotels sometimes haveshoulder season rates too, during the time between high and lowseason. If you find that no single rooms are available, try askingfor 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 inmost hotels, though I didn't notice this as much in really cheapcabinas. Also, see if you are traveling with your significantother, see if you can get a single room rate instead of a double ifyou agree to a room with one bed, a 'matrimonial'.
Helpful tips for when you'restaying in Costa Rica hotels:
- A high price doesn't mean a room has air conditioning. Be sureto ask.
- Make sure to look at several rooms in a hotel before making adecision. This is considered normal and is accepted as quality ofrooms in Costa Rica hotels are known to differ, sometimes by alot.
- Some Costa Rican hotel staffs are not kind to guests,especially when notified of problems, which they often fail tofix.
- 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 regardfor the situation or problem at hand.
- The majority of hotels offer basic toiletries like soap andtowels, but the lower the price the less likely they are to haveeverything, so it pays to bring your own.
- Cold showers are the norm, especially in lowland areas. If youwant a hot shower be sure to ask.
- With electric coil showerhead water heaters (common in cheaperCosta Rica hotels), don't touch metal objects while showering oryou could get a shock. Also, they can't heat large volumes ofwater, so the lower you keep the water pressure the warmer thewater will be.
- In moderate to low priced accommodations you may be provided awastebasket for used toilet paper. Unless you want a backed uptoilet, put the paper in the basket even though it's not exactlyhygienic. It takes some getting used to, I know it did for me, butin 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'Tuse that last term ' it's not very polite haha. If you learn Spanish you can find out for yourself what it meansliterally.
- Make sure your door will shut and lock securely, and that noone can gain access through a window.
- Always keep your door locked.
- Avoid leaving valuables in your room, and lock your possessionsin 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 24hours a day and this can be an unpleasant surprise when you comeback from partying at 4am to find yourself locked out.
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