If you're heading off on vacation and you don't want to sleep in a hammock, a tent or on the next park bench, you usually need a hotel or a holiday apartment. But sometimes, the search for the right place to stay appears rather difficult and time-consuming. There are hotels and their reviews are all over the internet, but those review are not always trustworthy. Booking.com provides pretty good offers for selected hotels, for example, but I've already had bad experiences with their reviews.
The reviews on Tripadvisor, on the other hand, are more reliable but most of the time, you have to pay more for your chosen hotel room when booking via Tripadvisor. It can be really tricky and you need to invest some time, if you don't want to be disappointed by your bed for the night. I've spent many hours in front of my laptop, searching for a place to stay, while comparing reviews from several sites on the internet, in order to find the perfect accommodation. I want to make your travel-life a little easier, so I'm delivering a small hotel-guide about the places, I've already visited and maybe I'm spearing you some time and trouble.
hotel flying crocodile
We're starting with one of my favorite places, you've probably already guesses it, once again: Costa Rica and when talking about Costa Rica, I certainly have to start with some family self-promotion for the Hotel Flying Crocodile, yet again.
But the Flying Crocodile is not just a great hotel, because it belongs to my aunt, no, it really is a jewel, that will take you right into Costa Rica's heart.
You'll find the hotel at Playa Buena Vista, approximately 7 kilometers / 4,3 miles beeline from the colorful village Sámara. Right in the jungle, nestled in nature lies my little paradise, that I warmly recommend to you. You can watch the monkeys climbing up the trees here, share a hammock with an iguana or watch the geckos.
Only five minutes by foot until you're at the deserted Playa Buena Vista, almost reaching till Sámara.
The Flying Crocodile consists of nine lodges with space for thirty-two people when the hotels is booked solid. The rates for the lodges are between 50 dollars and 75 dollars per person during high season. There is a pool bar, free WIFI is also available and you can play ping-pong and billiards. For breakfast, a small buffet gets prepared every morning with fresh fruits, toast, jelly, sausage, cheese and vegetables, you can order eggs and of course, there's coffee, tea and an also freshly prepared smoothie every morning. In the evening, you can choose between three dishes, also cooked freshly and with lots of love. For lunch, the Flying Crocodile offers a menu, which contains burgers and salad among other things if you're granting yourself a day off at the hotel and you're not busy exploring the area, enjoying the beach or do some snorkeling.
A little further down the Guanacaste peninsula, the Escencia is located in Playa Santa Teresa, Mal Pais. When I've visited Santa Teresa, we've arrived at late afternoon, since getting there isn't the easiest part. We hadn't made a reservation for an accommodation, since it was July and therefore low season and it's almost always possible to get a room as a walk-in. After visiting two not so pretty accommodations, we've made the decision to check out the Escencia Hotel & Villas.
The hotel looked pretty fancy and expensive and we actually thought that we couldn't afford a night in there, but the hotel was surprisingly cheap. You can book a small holiday apartment or choose a room inside of the main building of the hotel, breakfast is included. It is served at the pool bar and can be taken up to your room. The nice lady at the front desk apologized for nearly a thousand times, that the only room that was left, was a double room with a king sized bed and not a double room with two queen sized beds.
It wasn't really a problem, since the bed was so huge, you didn't even realize, that there was somebody else also sleeping in. We payed 45 Dollars per person at the Escencia for one night. It's only a short way across the street – you can hardly call it a street – to the beach. The hotel facility itself is equipped with a pool and is built into the hillside of a mountain, which is covered all over in palm trees. A upcoming thunderstorm made the sight look particularly spectacular. Breakfast consists fruits, juice, toast and yoghurt. Simply continental breakfast. The Escencia is located in the center of Santa Teresa and is definitely worth the journey.
Playas del coco
From Mal Pais, back up the coast of the Guanacaste peninsula, we're off into the “plains” of Costa Rica. Namely, into the area around Libera – Playas del Coco.
Playas del Coco is a small town, designed for more tourism than Sámara and Santa Teresa. One big advantage is, that the ocean has nearly any waves and therefore almost no currents. Fishing boats are decorating the beach of Coco.
To find the right hotel around here isn't easy. A big part of the accommodations may be cheap but can't really live in them. If you only want to pay 30 dollars per night, you'll get untidy room without an AC and it's really hot in this area. I've been to Coco twice and stayed both times at the Toro Blanco. Actually, I can recommend this hotel. It's clean and good looking. The rooms are not too small and equipped with a good AC, a fridge and a small fitted kitchen. There is a big pool with a bar and the light design of the hotel is also very pretty. But there's a fly in the ointment. I've been there both times during low season. During our first visit, we've payed 60 dollars per person for two nights. 30 Dollars per night is perfect, even with no breakfast included, especially after seeing the other rooms for 30 bucks per night. But during my this year's second visit – also low season – the hotel owner fleeced us by 45 dollars. Unfortunately, we only recognized it, after we left and when it was too late to go back. So, if you're choosing to stay at this place, count your money and negotiate a fixed price, if you're coming as a walk-in.
Next, we're leaving Guanacaste, driving into the heart of the country and into the mountains of Monteverde. At Santa Elena, close to the cloud forest and the hanging bridges, the Rustic Lodge is located. A beautiful, small lodge, built with passion for details and managed by friendly owners. At first, we were kind of confused as we entered our room and there wasn't any AC, only fans. At night, we knew why. In Monteverde, the temperature cools down to 62° Fahrenheit / 17° Celsius during the night, so no AC required. You can't complain about anything in the rooms. They are pretty big, clean, the beds are comfortable and the bathroom is also modern. Our shower was so big that five people at once could've fitted in there. There is also free WIFI and breakfast included. Breakfast is freshly prepared and served. Fresh eggs, fruits and toast, along with jam and butter. You can choose between coffee and tea and you'll get served some juice. Thanks to my aunt, we got a special rate for our three-bedroom but usually you'll pay roughly 41 dollars per person, per night for a spacious three-bedroom. You'll get a warm welcome at the Rustic Lodge and also tips for the surrounding natural preserves.
Hermosa beach house
If you're surfing, you've probably heard about Playa Hermosa, near Jacó. Costa Ricas most famous beach for surfing. We've been there as a walk-in during low season, too. You can usually negotiate a cheaper rate for a room as a walk-in. But you have to be careful at Playa Hermosa / Jacó with your choice of hotel.
Lots of Americans are living in the city and the surrounding area, which isn't a bad thing, but there is also a high risk of getting ripped off or ending up in a flophouse, or, just like it happened to us, you'll run into a hotel owner who seems to have a very, very bad day.
We didn't want to stay at Jacó, so we drove up to Playa Hermosa. First, we took a look at the Las Brisas. We weren't sure if the man, who presented himself in nothing other than boardshorts and started bitching at us, really was the hotel owner. The facility itself looked nice and we tried to negotiate with the nice man, 'cause he wanted 80 bucks from us for a tiny room. He got even more angry pretty fast and started to insult and threaten us. If you check out the Tripadvisor reviews, you'll see that we weren't just one individual case.
We left and chose the Hermosa Beach House, 30 dollars per person, per night.
The room was okay. There was a TV, an AC, a fridge, free WIFI and of course a bathroom. But the bed was a catastrophe and I find it a bit disgusting to sleep inside of it, since it smell pretty rotten. There was no warm water and after that, a friendly encounter with a huge cockroach. Undaunted by death, I killed this thing. I've never seen a cockroach that beat out like that one, after I was done with it. There is no breakfast offered at the Hermosa Beach House, but the location of the hotel is definitely unique. If you're enjoying the big pool, you've got a few on the beach. The hotel complex is almost built into the black sand beach. It absolutely makes up for the chaos. Basically, the hotel is okay to choose, if you're willing to turn a blind eye to a few things. Just watch out for cockroaches.
our casa guesthouse
My final stop is at Matapalo, behind the famous natural preserve Manuel Antonio. You'll find the Our Casa Guesthouse there. A small holiday apartment, rented out by the owners of the house. There is enough space for two people. You can use the AC but you have to pay 10 dollars per day, apart from that, we've payed 30 dollars per night altogether – not per person.
The bedroom is also the lounge and the kitchen. There is a oven and a fridge but it's absolutely enough. If you don't want to pay for the AC, there is a fan. We didn't use the AC and it was still okay to sleep. The bathroom is clean and spacious. There is also free WIFI but it doesn't always work – but that's Costa Rica. The guesthouse is only 0,12 miles / 200 meters from the beach located. You walk through the palm trees and in front of you sprawls, for 16 miles / 25 kilometers, Playa Matapalo. You could even walk all the way to Manuel Antonio. As most of the beaches around Costa Rica, there are hardly any people but be careful with the ocean. There are a lot of rip currents and stingrays there but it's still beautiful. Don't forget to bring something to eat. It takes half a hour to get to the next big supermarket.
If you want to do any kind of tour, Holger, the owner of the guesthouse, will gladly help you out. Matapalo is a great spot to do some horseback riding by the way. There is a Swiss woman, who offers riding tours along the mangroves and the beach and her horses are really well padded and she takes good care of them. We were lucky and saw a sloth hanging in one of the palm trees.
And that's it. My hotel tips and recommendations for Costa Rica. Hopefully, I could help you out. Take your time, explore the country, there's much to see.
Until then, happy traveling.