Hotels and Restaurants
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- Costa Rica’s Unique Retreats & Resorts
- Surf’s Up in Costa Rica
- Off-The-Beaten-Path Eco-Adventures
- Costa Rica Family-Friendly Adventures
- Adrenaline Rush
Accommodations run the gamut from cheap pensiones, beachside cabinas, and self-catering apartotels to rustic jungle lodges, swank mountain lodges, and glitzy resort hotels with casinos. (The term cabina—literally, cabin—is a loose term used throughout Costa Rica to designate accommodations, and as often as not refers to hotel rooms as well as true cabins.)
Far too many Costa Rican hoteliers fail to rectify faults with their hotels. Guests who complain about very real problems are often treated with disdain, and many readers have written to complain about threatening behavior by hotel owners or their staff. Hotels’ failure to honor reservations is another common complaint. If you make a reservation by phone, be sure to follow up by fax (or email), as you may need that paper trail. Discounts or refunds are rarely offered, regardless of circumstances. The problem spans all price levels, although foreign-owned properties have a better record.
Most hotels supply towels and soap, but unless you’re staying in the upscale hotels, you may need to bring your own shampoos, washcloths, and even a sink plug. The cheapest accommodations usually have communal bathrooms and, especially in hot lowland areas, cold-water showers only; often shower units are powered by electric heating elements, which you switch on for the duration of your shower (don’t expect steaming-hot water, however). Beware! It’s easy to give yourself a shock from any metal object nearby, hence the nickname “suicide showers.” In places where trying to flush your waste paper down the toilet may cause a blockage, waste receptacles are provided for toiletpaper. Unhygienic, yes, but use the basket unless you fancy a smelly back-up.
Rooms in any one hotel can vary dramatically. Don’t be afraid of looking at several rooms in a hotel (particularly in budget hotels) before making your decision—this is quite normal and accepted. Ensure that the door is secure and that your room can’t be entered through the window.
Reservations are strongly advised for dry-season months (Dec.–Apr.). Christmas, Easter week, and weekends are particularly busy. Don’t rely on mail to make reservations; it could take several months to confirm. Instead, book online, call direct, send a fax, email, or have your travel agent make reservations for you. It may be necessary to send a deposit, without which your space may be released to someone else. Take a copy of your reservation with you, and reconfirm a few days before arrival.
Many hotels have separate rates for low (“green”) season (May–Oct.) and high season (Nov.–Apr.), often with premium rates during Christmas, New Year, and Easter. Couples requesting a cama matrimonial (i.e., wishing to sleep in one bed) will often receive a discount off the normal double rate. A 16.3 percent tax is added to your room bill at most hotels. Some hotels charge extra (as much as 6 percent) for paying by credit card.
Rates are subject to fluctuation. Every attempt has been made to ensure that prices given here are accurate at press time.
© Christopher P. Baker from Moon Costa Rica, 8th Edition