My top 5 places to stay in Costa Rica
My best friend Sarah and I were travelling through Costa Rica for 3 weeks. For more details on our itinerary see Costa Rica – Volcanoes, Beaches and Wildlife. We usually look for hostels, but prefer to stay in a double room. Costa Rica has really blown us away with its beautiful hostels, so here’s my top 5.
1. Pagalù Hostel in Puerto Viejo de Talamanca
This hostel is most easily one of the nicest places I have ever stayed in. You cannot reserve the rooms in advance but taking a chance is more than worth it. We arrived at the Pagalù Hostel after a long way from Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio to San José and a bus ride from San José to Puerto Viejo on the same day. I had read about the hostel beforehand and had my mind set on it. We were lucky and got the last double room. And we did not get disappointed – instead of staying for 2 nights as planned, we ended up staying for an entire week (something I had never done before).
Our room on the top left of the building was truly perfect: spacious, two large windows with mosquito screens, a small cupboard (safe included), lots of shelves and room to hang your stuff. The lights were cozy and the linens frequently changed. Also towels were included. In front of our room there were little benches and ample space to hang your wet beach towels and bikinis. We shared a bathroom with the other guests on the first floor. It has a mosaique shower and was cleaned several times a day.
The hostel has a really big and beautiful common area. It is basically the entire ground floor of the main building – open to all sides, allowing for a fresh breeze. The big kitchen includes everything you need to cook a great meal: pots, pans, nice colorful dishes and a huge fridge. And the best part: it is spotlessly clean, so cooking there is a real treat. We enjoyed elaborate breakfasts and dinners with a view on the garden in a perfectly relaxed atmosphere. There is a super market just down the street, so the ingredient supply is virtually limitless.
Apart from the kitchen, there are big tables, several hammocks and a nice terrace with a view on the small but beautifully lush green garden.
Also the staff of the hostel is amazing. They always seem to be in a good mood, help you out with tips about what to do in the area, snorkeling hot spots and they live at the hostel themselves, so they really take care of it. I have seldomly experienced such a homy vibe. In the mornings good coffee and tea are for free and they have a big watertank to fill up your own waterbottle for a few pesos. Needless to say that wifi is also included in the deal. The hostel is a five minute walk from the bus station (walk straight away from the beach until you see the “MegaSuper” on the left corner and turn right) and there is a bike rental spot right next door.
2. Hostel Plinio between Quepos and Parque Nacional Manuel Antonio
The hostel is build into a tree covered hill. It consists of several buildings, all melting seamlessly into the surrounding. We decided to stay at Hostel Plinio to visit Manuel Antonio National Park. There is a bus stop just a few minutes from the hostel, taking you straight to the park.
The common areas of the hostel are very beautiful. There is the main area, right next to the reception, with lots of tables, comfy sofas, hammocks and an amazing view into the jungle. This is also where a typical Costa Rican breakfast is served, consisting of Gallo Pinto (rice mixed with beans), scrambled eggs, fruit and coffee. There is wifi in the main area, but not in the rooms.
In the building right next to the reception there is a kitchen with a big table, where we spent all of our evenings cooking with other travelers and playing Canadian games. Since the hostel is outside of Quepos, you can’t walk to the next bar or club. If you want to party, this might not be the right choice for you. We actually enjoyed staying in, since the location invited most other guests to do the same. We ended up getting to know a lot of people and decided to go on travelling with some of them to Puerto Viejo. The kitchen is basic and mostly clean. Right next to the kitchen there is a big porch to hang out.
In case you don’t feel like cooking yourself, the hostel has a really cute restaurant (the little house with the turqoise roof). They serve a veggie burger, salads and good cocktails. Prices are not cheap, but reasonable and you get to see the ocean while you enjoy your meal. The hostel also has a pool – it looks great, but the water was really hot and not exactly clean.
We booked a double room with a shared bathroom. The rooms are fairly small and there is not a lot of space to hang your stuff. The bathroom however is big and clean. I would not recommend the room by itself, but the great common areas totally make up for that.
To get to the hostel you drive up the hill from Quepos toward Manuel Antonio National Park. The hostel will appear on the left side after a few minutes. It’s almost hard to see when you drive up the hill, since it is basically built into the jungle. You can conveniently park your car in front of the hostel, before taking the stairs up to the reception.
3. Hotel Cabinas Las Fresas (Volcán Poás)
We stayed two nights in the charming little cabins of Hotel Cabinas Las Fresas. The hotel is located in San Pedro de Poas, just off the main street going up to Volcán Poás. We rented a car to drive up there from San José (about 1,5 hours) via Alajuela.
There is a main building including the reception and a rather stuffy yet nice restaurant serving excellent pizza. The highlight of the hotel are definitely the spacious and spotlessly clean cabins with an amazing view over the valley. The hotel is really quite, you can watch the stars at night and there is enough room to practice some yoga in the cabin.
The hosts are really nice and they kept checking the weather up on the vocano for us, since a lot of times you cannot see the crater do to clouds. On the first day, the weather gods weren’t with us, so we took the advice of seeing La Paz Waterfall instead. It’s a 45 minute drive and it’s a nice way to pass the time. However, the entrance to the park is 30$ and you will see much more exciting things while being in Costa Rica. Yet, if you also have to wait for the sky to clear, go ahead and visit the waterfall.
4. Hotel Moctezuma in Montezuma
Hotel Moctezuma is located right on the beach at the right end of the main street. We stayed there for 4 nights. We had a basic but spacious room, with a private bathroom and a shared kitchen. The hotel consists of two buildings right across the street from each other. The main building hosts the hotel, whereas the little red building on the picture contains 5 hostel-style rooms and a kitchen. Right in front of the building there is a small table perfect for having breakfast while enjoying the most incredible view on the beach and that scenic palmtree you can see in the picture.
To find out what you can do while staying in Montezuma read Costa Rica – The Adventures of Montezuma.
5. Costa Rica Backpackers in San José
To be perfectly honest, the rooms in this hostel are a mess and I would not recommend them at all. However, the hostel has a really nice garden area with a pool, lounge chairs and room to relax. We were quite tired when we arrived after a long flight and the garden was perfect to ease into our holiday. The coffee in the morning was for free and you can order an airport shuttle with the hostel, which makes sense if you share it with other people. This hostel is a good choice, if you can overlook the crappy room and want to enjoy a little time at the pool before or after your Costa Rica adventure.