We recently traveled to Costa Rica to visit family. We travel there once a year, and we always take a few days to go to one of the beautiful beaches or volcanoes that are so plentiful there. This year we decided to go to Playa Hermosa in Guanacaste. (There are two Playa Hermosas in Costa Rica). Our hotel decision has become increasingly important now that we have a child. It’s also important because I’m no longer at an age where I think it’s ok to stay at a place where people are partying late into the night, where I have to share a bathroom, or that’s a dump.
Especially in Costa Rica, if you stay in a hotel that’s extremely inexpensive, you are most certainly going to be waking up to a rooster at 4am, or even worse, have a barking dog next door that keeps you up all night. I am a light sleeper, and if I don’t get enough sleep I am quite unpleasant, so I am trying to control my sleeping environment so we can all have a nice time.
In the past, we have used Lonely Planet, Let’s Go, or one of those guidebooks to find hotels when we traveled, but lately we have beeb using Tripadvisor. Just type in where you’re going and then you can see the hotels in that area. You can sort by price, which is obviously helpful, but I’ve found a lot of times the prices are not completely accurate. They will be close, but can be more or less depending on the place. Once we find some hotels we like in our price range, we read the reviews on Tripadvisor, and then visit the hotel websites directly to get more pictures and information. We’ll narrow it down to two or three places and then call (or email) to find out about availability and exact prices with taxes.
The most important criteria for this trip was that the hotel was on the beach. It didn’t need to have an ocean view, but I didn’t want to drive from the hotel to the beach, toting around a bunch of toddler sand toys and gear. We were also not willing to spend a ton of money on a hotel room. We’ve actually found that a lot of expensive hotels end up nickel and diming you to death, and they end up offering you less in terms of amenities. Other important criteria: that there was a pool, that it appeared to be clean, and that there was not a loud bar attached to it.
Luckily we found the perfect little hotel called Villa Belmar. It is one of the few located right on the beach, it is small, it has a pool, and best of all we were able to get an oceanfront room for $90/night including taxes. We feel like everything is a little more personalized at a small hotel. There aren’t as many people around, the management is typically more laid back while still being attentive, and many times the person at the front desk is the owner, so they care a lot more about how you are enjoying your stay, and are a lot more helpful when asking for dining or entertainment/tour options. And of course, what big hotel is going to offer those kind of prices for an oceanfront view on the beach?
Here are a few of the photos we took from the room, of the hotel from the beach, and of the sunset. If you are interested in visiting Costa Rica, my review of this hotel is here. I would definitely recommend the place and we would stay there again. Although, there is so much to discover in Costa Rica, I’m not sure we will ever visit the same beach twice!
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