Types of Lodging in Costa Rica

Costa Rica has a well-developed tourism infrastructure, and you’ll find great lodging at all kinds of price points throughout the country. But how to choose? Here is a summary of the different types of accommodations that you will find here.

• Resorts: These hotels tend to be large (over 100 rooms) and are often all-inclusive or sold on package tours. They are likely to have swimming pools, restaurants, rental equipment, golf courses or tennis courts, gyms, spas, room service, cable television, telephone, and a tour desk. This is a good option for beach-and-sun tourists who want to  leave the planning to someone else.

• Corporate hotels: Mostly found in and around the Central Valley, these large hotels cater the business traveler. You’ll find them near airports and main centers of business, like Escazú and downtown San José. Amenities are what you would expect to find back home. Some travelers who want to take tours to see Costa Rica by day but sleep in more familiar surroundings by night may prefer some of these larger, standardized hotels.

• Boutique Hotels: These small, family-run hotels are often fancier than traditional digs and boast a distinct style and feel, occasionally bordering on the whimsical and eccentric. This is the polar opposite of the corporate hotel.

• Bed & Breakfast: Most bed and breakfasts tend to be very small (less than 10 rooms), family-run, independent establishments.They are often located in large renovated houses, often times with the owners residingin the same building. Many offer meals in a communal setting. Seek out B&Bs if you would enjoy a mellow environment and are interested in meeting and speaking with likeminded travelers.

• Jungle/Nature/Eco Lodges: Costa Rica excels in the ecolodge. In fact, two of the best in the world are here. You will find digs ranging from the really rustic to the lap of luxury, all amid raw nature. Guests may have to travel by boat, foot, tractor, horse or four wheel drive over bumpy roads to reach these hidden jewels, but once there, they are rewarded with the sights, sounds and smells of nature in its purest sense. Some lodges have limited or even no electricity or hot water, as energy often comes from solar panels and other alternative sources. This experience is for birdwatchers and nature lovers of all kinds, who want that true rainforest immersion experience – and who don’t mind sharing space with a couple creepy crawlies from time to time.

• Cabinas: These are found all over Costa Rica, and vary greatly in quality, so always ask to check out rooms and bathrooms before forking over your cash. They tend to be locally owned, small, rectangular, one-floor establishments, often with the doors opening directly to the outside. They usually have a private bath, simple, clean beds, and may come with a mosquito net, a fan and complimentary bar of Pura Vida soap.

• Hostels: Because inexpensive cabinas are so ubiquitous, budget travelers aren’t limited to hostels for cheap sleep as they are in many other countries, so they aren’t as prevalent. Most choose hostels based more on their social atmosphere, as they attract young, foreign, backpacker types, who spend hours sharing travel stories and recommending must sees off the beaten track.

• Rural Community Tourism Lodging: Rural community tourism is a great option for people who really want to have extensive and meaningful interaction with local culture. RCT lodging is often in a residence or a small building run by a local community association. Meals are cooked by local people and tours and activities revolve around getting to know the activities of day to day life around town. Conditions are often very basic and rustic, but travelers are rewarded with an authentic look into how rural Ticos live their lives.

• Vacation Rentals: An increasingly popular option for lodging is vacation rentals. Here you reserve a private person’s place – either a room or the entire home – and you use it as if it were your hotel. With so many seasonal and investment properties in Costa Rica, sites like airbnb and homeaway are garnering greater market shares.