Lodging & Hotels in Costa Rica

The tourist bonanza over the past few years made the hotel situation somewhat tight at times. To compensate, new hotels were constructed and private families converted homes into bed and breakfasts as quickly as they could. Many North Americans joined this bed and breakfast boom, partly financing their retirement by renting out spare bedrooms. In smatter communities hotels and ecotourism facilities raced to accommodate demand. Today you can often find a room in isolated places where camping was the only choice before. This trend seems to [lave caught up with demand, at least temporarily, because now there's an oversupply of rooms.

The tightest hotel room market in Costa Rica is during the Christmas - New Year's weeks. Not impossible, just tight. During the rush season making reservations before you leave for Costa Rica, even if only for the first couple of nights, is a good insurance policy After you arrive, you can check around and locate something suitable to your taste and/or the size of your pocketbook.

Around San Jose, hotels come in all sizes and flavors, with expensive rooms costing $100 a night and up and cheap rooms under $15. For medium priced hotel rooms, expect to pay from $45 to $65 a night during the tourist season. I looked at one room for under $10 recently, but shivers ran down my spine when I peered into the gloomy?looking room, with dirty linen on the bed, and in a ramshackle wooden building that looked like a firetrap. For my personal tastes a $20.00 room would be my bottom choice, yet many of the younger set and the backpacker brigades believe that anything over $8.00 is far too expensive, My wife's preferences fall into the $40 range or above.

Away from the Meseta Central, fewer hotels are available and rooms can be somewhat expensive for what you get. This is changing as competition grows. Nevertheless, I've found satisfactory accommodations for as little as $30 even in such -out off- the way places. Understand, what may be satisfactory for me could be unthinkable for someone else!

If you're on a budget-as we long-term travelers usually are don't expect too much in the way of luxury You may find an affordable rate for a room with a private bath, only to discover that the shower is plumbed for cold water only, when a hotel advertises hot water, you'll often find one of those rinky dink electric heaters attached to the shower head. This contraption, known as a "suicide shower," has a lever that can be set to one of three positions. The position that says OFF is the only one that works all the time. This encourages short but exhilarating showers, ideal for anyone considering celibacy The secret is to let the water flow at its lowest possible volume, in the hope of coaxing warmth from the heating element.

Really inexpensive hotels sometimes Use low-wattage light bulbs, so weak that you have trouble reading in bed. The Solution is to carry a seventy-five watt bulb in your luggage and substitute it whenever you feel like reading. (Make sure you aren't into a twelve-volt system!) Other items you might keep in your bag are a drinking cup, a roll of toilet paper, and some nylon string and clothespins so that you can wash out undies. Very important: Pack a set of earplugs; I've suffered several nights made impossible for sleep by inconsiderate people partying all night or standing outside my door making plans for the next day's trip at 2:00 A.M.! One additional item is insect repellent, one buzzing mosquito can make sleep difficult, a dozen of them can make sleep impossible. Understand that most of the foregoing advice is geared toward the low end of the hotel range. Ordinary places are much better.

Should you be stranded out in the country, unable to find a place to stay, your ace in the hole is the local pulperia. This is the Costa Rican equivalent of a country "general store"; it also serves as the social center of the community. Drinks and snacks are sold, as neighbors congregate to exchange news and tidbits of gossip as well as purchase necessary items ranging from matches to machetes. The proprietor of the pulperia can often find you a room with a local family. This is a unique opportunity to see how country folk live in Costa Rica, but don't expect luxury. A pulperia is also an excellent place to inquire about real estate. If anything is for sale or rent in the neighborhood, the proprietor will know, and she probably knows the bottom-line price as well as the asking price.

Writen by John Howels

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