Accommodation options cover all styles and budgets and in Costa Rica the variety and diversity is spectacular. Eccentric and purist designs perched on a hillside providing respite for mind and body, quiet hotels in secluded private reserves, beachfront properties and glorious romantic hideaways, down through steady steps of luxury, comforts and services to the simplest, most basic rooms. The level of service also varies fantastically.

The good hotels fill up in the high season (and some in the green season as well) and booking in advance is advisable. Mid- and upper-range hotels will require a deposit in advance. Lower budget hotels will also accept reservations and while you may not be able to secure the room, do what you can to check the booking is being honoured. If you plan to arrive late in the evening, let the hotel know.

The high season generally runs from December to April. Outside of these months it is the green season. Discounts at this time are common and can be as much as 50%. They vary greatly from location to location - some places choose not to discount at all, others prefer to close rather than operate at a reduced capacity. Many of the mid-range hotels and above allow children under 12 to stay for free or a fraction of the full adult rate. Ask when making reservations.

Out of town

In general, away from San José the better establishments are outside the main town. These hotels and lodges tend to have their own restaurant or at least comfortable snack options. Services vary greatly as some aim for a pure ambience devoid of external influences, while others have options for all forms of sport, pampering and relaxation. Although not essential, it is often useful to have your own transport.

In town

Cheaper accommodation tends to be in or close to the centre of town or at least easily accessible to public transport routes. Options range from very comfortable family-run hotels to penny-pinching flea-pits.

Business hotels

Costa Rica has cottoned on to the opportunities for business travel and provides some of the best business hotels and conference facilities in Central America for capacities of up to 1200 delegates. Service levels start at the very height of luxury down to more rustic settings, with nature as the backdrop.

Bed and breakfast

Setting out with a filling breakfast inside you is easily the best way to travel. The
Costa Rica Bed & Breakfast Group
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, is a network of small B&Bs offering smart and friendly sleeping options throughout the country. In addition to a reservation service, they also provide itinerary planning to get you between the 200+ inns and hotels in their directory.

Long-term rentals

Rentals of rooms or apartments are popular with people staying in the country for a month or two. The discounts are considerable - some places will even give a discount for stays of over three nights. Ask about discounts when making a reservation.

Youth hostels

Three hostels and lodgings are affiliated to the
International Youth Hostelling Federation
throughout Costa Rica. Prices fall within our mid-range to budget
categories. While they do not all offer discounts for membership, you will find a clean bed and a friendly face.

Ecotourism - Cooprena

At the rustic end of the scale Cooprena heads a network of co-operatively owned lodges and houses that provide accommodation throughout the country in rural settings. Conditions are normally basic, but are in excellent positions for experiencing rural Costa Rican home life and with opportunities for activities nearby. Close to the ideals of ecotourism, the impact of visitors is minimal; sustainable use of the environment primary, and the money goes to the local community.
Simbiosis Tours

Other companies are evolving, a couple that have been developing slowly are
Vacaciones con Familias Campesinas
, covering northern Costa Rica; and
Rural Costa Rica
, a women's group in Santa Fe, north Costa Rica.


Camping in Costa Rica is very much on the decline in all but the most out-of-the-
way places. Given the difficulties of getting to quiet secluded spots on public transport, it is
probably better to camp in Costa Rica as a preferred style of sleeping rather than a way of
saving money and getting to quiet hideaways. There are, of course, exceptions. If you do camp,
normal rules apply to take all your rubbish with you - even if that is contrary to local habits

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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