Where to stay in Costa Rica

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Costa Rica is an incredibly beautiful and naturally diverse country with bustling cities and stunning national parks. Many who visit Costa Rica take in this natural landscape by hiking, climbing and river rafting, or opting for something a little more adventurous such as cave tubing and zip lining.

If you are spending most of your vacation in Costa Rica’s incredible national parks, look out for its diverse wildlife, including sea turtles and sloths. If a more cosmopolitain vibe is your perfect vacation, stay in San José Costa Rica’s bustling capital city for plenty of shopping, trendy restaurants and an up-and-coming craft beer scene.

Choosing where to stay when visiting any county can be tricky as you scour the internet, books and travel agents to find the perfect region or neighbourhood to be based in. To ease your travel planning, here are 5 of the best areas of Costa Rica to set as your base, and a range of luxury, mid-range, and budget hotel options that are perfect for your vacation.

Where To Stay In Costa Rica

Manuel Antonio

Parador Resort and Spa
Choosing where to stay in Costa Rica is as important as choosing what to see.

Manuel Antonio is the best Costa Rica destination to stay at for adventure, beautiful beaches, sprawling coast line and breathtaking natural landscapes.

This region is actually the smallest national park in Costa Rica, however despite its size it remains one of the most frequently visited national parks by tourists thanks to its coastal location.

Book onto a guided walking tour of Manuel Antonio’s forests and see Costa Rica’s wildlife up close, including Howler monkeys, iguanas and sloths.

Another great way to see Manuel Antonio is by setting out into the ocean on a catamaran cruise, offering spectacular views of the coastline and the rainforest beyond.

Some catamarans offer food and drinks, or luxurious additions such as jacuzzis and trampolines for children.

Make the most of this coastal location and enjoy some time on Espadilla Beach or Manuel Antonio Beach, the two most popular beaches in the region.


  • The area is focused on sustainability
  • Beautiful natural landscapes
  • Great variety of restaurants in the town


  • Less accessible on foot due to its hilly nature
  • Can be incredibly loud and busy during touristy seasons

Where To Stay In Manuel Antonio

Luxury: Parador Resort and Spa

Spend your time in Manuel Antonio in style at 5-star luxury resort Parador Resort and Spa.

The resort prides itself on its world-class service, with staff available 24-hours a day to offer you help with the hotel and facilities, or guidance on what to do or where to eat.

The hotel is surrounded by tropical rainforest with views over the trees or out towards the Pacific Ocean.

The hotel has three swimming pools with plenty of space for sun loungers, and at the spa a hot tub, plunge pool and a range of relaxing treatments await.

Enjoy a meal at one of the hotel’s three restaurants, including La Galleria Restaurant which overlooks the gardens.

Each bedroom is spacious, bright and airy, with air conditioning, mini-bars, free WiFi and either an ocean, garden or jungle view.

Due to its tropical location, expect to see monkeys and sloths, as well as a wide variety of colourful birds, during your stay.

Mid range: Shana by the Beach

Shana by the Beach is a beautiful hotel to stay at in Manuel Antonio.

The hotel is only a short walk from Biesanz Beach and Manuel Antonio National Park Beach, making it the perfect destination for those looking to combine stunning natural landscapes with relaxing in the sun.

on the hills of Quepos Point, the hotel has beautiful views over the rainforest and the ocean.

Each bedroom is designed with warm wood tones, comfortable furniture and large windows.

Facilities in each room include air conditioning, mini-bar, safe and access to free WiFi, with suites offering private terraces and pools.

The onsite Bella Vista restaurant offers an excellent range of both regional and international dishes on an evening, and a highly rated breakfast each morning.

The hotel is excellently placed for visitors to enjoy exploring the Manuel Antonio National Park, either independently or on a guided tour, or to wander through the streets of local village Quepos.

Its coastal location makes the area popular with hiking, cycling and for those wanting to get out onto the water, fishing.

Budget: Hotel Playa Espadilla & Gardens

For a lower-cost stay that still feels luxurious, look no further than Hotel Playa Espadilla & Gardens.

The hotel is backed by lush tropical rainforest and sits on the edge of Playa Espadilla Beach.

The hotel includes outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts and plenty of spaces to relax in the sunshine under grass umbrellas.

Bedrooms are all air conditioned and have private bathrooms, cable TVs and free WiFi, with suites offering luxurious spa baths.

A varied and fresh breakfast is served every day, however dinner is only available on request.

There are a range of excellent restaurants only a short walk away from the hotel including some overlooking the beach.

A short walk from the hotel is the Manuel Antonio National Park where guests can head out on guided tours and specialised nature walks.

Rafting and kayaking are also popular activities from the shores of Espadilla Beach.

San José

Grano de Oro Hotel
When deciding where to stay in Costa Rica, San Jose has a range of options.

San José is the capital of Costa Rica and is the home of its airport, making the city the perfect destination to spend a couple of days in before exploring more of the country.

While in San José head to a local restaurant and enjoy some of the best traditional dishes around, or grab a bite to eat from a street stall.

Try Gallo Pinto, a breakfast dish of rice and beans considered to be the national dish of Costa Rica, or indulge in Arroz con Leche, a creamy dish of rice and milk often served as a desert.

Opened in 1821, Central Market is one of the most popular destinations in the city to explore as a tourist as it is filled with stalls selling everything from textiles to snacks, and its maze-like design makes it perfect for wandering around.

The best time to visit the market is early on a morning to avoid the crowds, and to get the tastiest dishes from vendors.

If nightlife is a top consideration for your vacation planning, San José is the perfect destination.

Visit San Pedro, the student district of the city, for the coolest bars and clubs, cocktail bars and craft beer breweries.

During the daytime, spend some time immersing yourself in culture and history at one of the city’s many museums which are mostly in the downtown area.

The most popular museum in the city is the Museo de Pro Precolombino, a museum dedicated to gold with more than 3500 objects on display including a life-size golden warrior.


  • Very cosmopolitan city with large shopping areas and delicious restaurants
  • Plenty of things to do and see during the day for tourists
  • Excellent nightlife


  • Can be noisy at night due to bars and nightclubs
  • Pickpocketing, particularly of tourists, is rife

Where To Stay In San Jose

Luxury: Grano de Oro

Enjoy your city centre stay in old-world luxury at the Grand de Oro hotel.

This magnificent hotel resembles a vast stately mansion and has all of the creature comforts needed to make your city stay perfect.

The hotel offers free parking, free WiFi throughout, an excellent restaurant, pool, rooftop garden and spa.

Each bedroom is carefully detailed and designed to ooze luxury with wooden vaulted ceilings, rich mahogany furniture and ornately tiled floors.

Bedrooms are all fitted with air-conditioning, soft bed linens, coffee machines, flat-screen TVs and safes.

Enjoy a meal at the hotels on-site gourmet restaurant for both Costa Rican and European dishes.

The hotel’s city centre location means that many of the most popular attractions and landmarks are only a short walk away.

The staff are knowledgeable and happy to help with planning your days activities, arranging transport and even arranging tours of museums.

If you desire a more relaxing day, visit nearby La Sabana Park, a large park with museum, sports complex, boating lake and plenty of pleasant pathways to stroll along.

Mid range: Hotel Presidente

Hotel Presidente is a trendy 4-star hotel in the centre of San José, offering excellent access to a range of landmarks, popular tourist destinations and museums.

The hotel is modern in its design and combines large open spaces with industrial touches such as exposed brick walls and steel girders contrasting with light wooden parquet flooring and unique furnishings.

Each bedroom has been carefully designed to feel homely yet luxurious, with features including tea and coffee making facilities, laptop safes and flat-screen TVs.

Within the hotel is a breakfast restaurant, and Azotea Calle 7 Restaurant, which serves a range of delicious meals on an evening.

A short walk away from the hotel is the National Museum of Costa Rica and the Gold Museum, one of the most popular museums in the country.

The hotel has good access to public transportation, and has free parking for those arriving by car.

Budget: Sleep Inn Hotel

The Sleep Inn Hotels a cosy and friendly hotel in the heart of San José.

This 3-star hotel offers bedrooms with private bathrooms, complimentary toiletries, air-conditioning, fridge, microwave and tea and coffee making facilities.

Each bedroom is colourfully finished with bold tropical leaf print throws and pillows.

The hotel also includes an onsite gym, access to computers and printers for last-minute travel research, and spacious and inviting dining facilities.

The hotel has an excellent location within the city and is opposite España Park and the Modern Art Museum.


Crocs Resort & Casino
It’s worth spending some time choosing where to stay in Costa Rica, especially if you’re visiting for a special occasion or looking for a bit of pampering.

Jaco is another excellent Costa Rica destination if you plan on spending lots of time on the beach.

The waters of Jaco are perfect for surfing, with many coastal and beach areas offering surfing lessons for those looking to try the sport for the first time, and places to hire boards from.

Jaco offers a little something for everyone with its close proximity to the ocean and beaches, rainforests, and the capital city.

Jaco is also a popular destination for those looking for excellent nightlife, with many bars and clubs in the town.

Jaco becomes very busy with tourists during its dry season which runs from December to April, however those looking to surf brave the rainy season as the best waves can be found from May through to November.


  • Beach location perfect for relaxation and surfing
  • Perfect destination for those looking for great nightlife and beautiful surroundings


  • Very busy during dry season with tourists
  • Prices can be higher here, particularly for tourists
  • Fewer opportunities to see Costa Rica’s native wildlife than in other areas

Where To Stay In Jaco

Luxury: Crocs Casino and Resort

Spend your time in Jaco in 5-star luxury at Crocs Resort & Casino.

This excellent luxury accommodation destination offers visitors a large outdoor swimming pool finished with a crocodile tiled onto the pool floor.

Other facilities at the hotel include two bars, relaxing garden, beachfront location and access, spa and wellness centre, gym and communal areas offering games such as billiards.

Each bedroom has air conditioning, coffee machines, spacious bathrooms and beautiful views.

There are many activities available at the hotel including its casino, which is the only Las Vegas style casino in costa rica, offering a range of table games and slot machines.

The hotel also has a range of tours offered to its guests, including boat trips out to the white sandy shores of Tortuga Island and thrill-filled zip line tours of the rainforest.

Mid range: Hotel Punta Leona

Hotel Punta Leona is a beautiful rainforest-surrounded 4-star hotel in Jaco that oozes luxury.

The hotel overlooks Playa Blanca Beach and the ocean beyond, with the best views seen from the pool and restaurant area.

Bedrooms at Hotel Punta Leona are spacious and airy, with air conditioning, garden views, private bathrooms and coffee machines available.

The hotel has two swimming pools including a large outdoor pool surrounded by sun loungers, three restaurants to choose from all serving a range of local and international dishes, and two snack bars open during the day.

Hotel Punta Leona is perfectly placed for access to the beach and ocean activities such a snorkelling and scuba diving.

Budget: Los Ranchos

For budget accommodation without compromising on destination or luxury vibes, look no further than Los Ranchos.

The hotel is a mere 40m (131.23 ft) from Jaco Beach, and is a short walk from the town itself and its variety of shops and restaurants.

Enjoy a relaxing dip in the hotel’s pool as you listen to the sounds of the surrounding rainforest or enjoy a relaxing stroll through the hotel grounds as you search for wildlife.

Each room at Los Ranchos has air conditioning, free WiFi, private bathrooms and in its apartments and bungalows, access to private kitchens.

While there is no onsite bar or restaurant, hotel staff can advise you on the best places to dine locally.

The hotel offers free parking, and an airport shuttle to help your stay begin and end in the most relaxing manner possible.

The staff at the hotel are friendly and helpful, and can arrange activities for you such as surfing lessons on Jaco Beach, and guided tours of the nearby Manuel Antonio Nature Reserve.


El Establo Mountain Hotel
When choosing where to stay in Costa Rica, you’ll find a range of hotels that suit all budgets.

Monteverde is one of the most beautiful natural regions in Costa Rica, and one that is well worth considering as a base for your stay.

Monteverde is home to the greatest concentration of orchids in the world making it an incredibly picturesque destination when they are blooming.

More than 500 species of orchids can be found in Monteverde’s cloud forests.

Due to climate change, Monteverde’s cloud forests are at risk of permanently disappearing, making it an increasingly popular destination for those interested in unique natural phenomena.

While in Monteverde take a guided hike through the forests to learn more about the clouds, plants and wildlife that live there.

Guided night walks of the forest are also available, giving visitors a chance to see some of the nocturnal natives including snakes, porcupines and tree frogs.

Enjoy freshly ground coffee at Colibri Cafe, a small cafe in picturesque surroundings serving delicious drinks with the accompaniment of local hummingbirds enjoying the sugar water feeders surrounding the cafe.


  • Incredible natural landscapes and wildlife
  • Perfect for people who love nature
  • Cooler weather than in other parts of the country


  • Further away from other tourist attractions
  • Limited nightlife

Where To Stay In Monteverde

Luxury: El Establo Mountain Hotel

El Establo Mountain Hotel is the perfect luxury destination for your stay in Monteverde.

The hotel is 4-star and offers a variety of sizes of rooms, including rooms with balconies or views out towards the Monteverde cloud forest.

The hotel has a gym, indoor swimming pool and a spa for guests to relax and unwind in.

Onsite there are two excellent restaurants both serving a range of Costa Rican cuisines, with Restaurant Laggus also offering spectacular views over the hotels gardens and lake.

Each bedroom is comfortably furnished with large beds, desks, private bathrooms, flatscreen TVs and safe boxes.

The hotel offers guided tours both during the day and on an evening of the surrounding cloud forest, and can recommend other tours and activities in the area through their knowledgeable staff.

Mid range: La Guayaba Monteverde

La Guayaba Monteverde is perfectly placed within Monteverde for a range of activities in and around the cloud forest.

The hotel is only a short drive from Sky Adventures, an activity centre with sky tram, sky walk and zip line tour, and the Selvatura Adventure Park, another excellent zip line and treetop walkway park that is perfect for all the family.

La Guayaba is also only a short walk away from the Monteverde Ecological Sanctuary, where visitors can learn about the ongoing conservation efforts in Costa Rica, and discover more about the rainforests native wildlife.

The hotel itself is thoughtfully designed to blend into its natural surroundings, with bedrooms featuring large windows and wood panelled ceilings.

Some bedrooms have spectacular views over the mountains with windows on two sides of the bedroom.

The hotel offers an excellent breakfast with a range of fresh and tasty dishes offered.

While there is no onsite restaurant, the hotel staff are friendly and knowledgeable about the local area and can offer guests recommendations and transportation to their chosen venue.

Budget: Camino Verde Bed & Breakfast

Camino Verde Bed & Breakfast is an excellent budget option when staying in Monteverde as it combines low prices with comfortable rooms, excellent views and impeccable service.

The hotel has a large terrace with views stretching across the cloud forest and out towards the mountains.

Each bedroom is simply designed with thoughtful touches such as vibrant wall art, soft white linens and spacious bathrooms.

There is a communal kitchen where guests can watch TV and enjoy complimentary teas and coffees.

The hotel is perfectly placed for Santa Elena, a small city that is a popular starting point for many hikers.

Staff at the hotel are friendly and are able to advise you on the best restaurants to eat at, book you onto guided tours of the cloud forest, or even onto tours of the spectacular Lake Arenal and the national park surrounding it.

La Fortuna

Chachagua Rainforest Hotel & Hot Springs

La Fortuna is another excellent rainforest and nature getaway in Costa Rica.

This area is famous for its nature as the rainforest surrounds the town.

When visiting La Fortuna be sure to enjoy a guided hike through the rainforest or be more adventurous and enjoy a zip line, wild swimming, or taking a dip in a natural hot spring.

One of the best things to do when staying in La Fortuna is to visit La Fortuna Waterfall, a towering 70m (229.66ft) high waterfall that spills over the rock face and into a natural pool below.

Continue the natural theme to your trip and spend some time exploring Arenal Volcano National Park.

The national park is home to Costa Rica’s most active volcano, with park rangers monitoring its levels continuously.

Inside the national park are many magical hiking trails, with some leading to the lake.


  • Popular destination for those looking for a more adventurous vacation
  • Local towns offer a range of restaurants and bars


  • Limited nightlife
  • Can be busy during dry season with tourists

Where To Stay In La Fortuna

Luxury: Chachagua Rainforest Hotel & Hot Springs

Chachagua Rainforest Hotel & Hot Springs is the perfect luxury nature escape on your trip to La Fortuna.

The hotel is surrounded by more than 300 acres of dense rainforest with guests able to see some of the wildlife up close, including monkeys and sloths.

The hotel has an outdoor swimming pool with plenty of sun loungers to relax on, and an indoor pool for use during the rainy season.

Every bedroom at the hotel is spacious, bright and airy, with natural wooden touches to the decor and furniture.

Bedrooms have large windows all overlooking another breathtaking part of the surrounding rainforest.

The hotel has an onsite restaurant serving Costa Rican cuisine made using locally sourced and organic ingredients, many of which come from the hotels grounds.

From the hotel there are many hiking trails through the surrounding rainforest, and hikes through the Tilaran Mountains and the Children’s International Rainforest are only a short drive away.

Mid range: Los Lagos Spa & Thermal Resort Experience

Los Lagos Spa & Thermal Resort Experience is the perfect destination to bask in dramatic surroundings while relaxing in thermal waters.

The hotel is close to the Arenal Volcano which towers over the hotel and the surrounding landscape.

Within the grounds are natural hot springs, outdoor swimming pools, a spa and of course plenty of spaces to enjoy the views of the volcano.

Each bedroom is spacious, airy and comfortably designed and include access to free WiFi, cable TV, safes and mini bars.

Bedrooms all have spectacular views, whether this is out towards the volcano or of the surrounding rainforest.

The hotel offers a range of activities both onsite and within the surrounding national park including canopy tours of the rainforest and a walk to one of the best viewpoints of the volcano in the area.

Budget: Orquideas Boutique Hotel

Orquideas Boutique Hotel offers comfortable bedrooms and an excellent location with a low price.

The hotel has a large outdoor swimming pool surrounded by tropical plants, a garden to relax in and excellent onsite restaurant.

Each bedroom has a private bathroom, access to free WiFi, a mini fridge and air conditioning.

Some rooms are also available with a large balcony to admire the view from.

The hotel is a mere 4.4 kilometres (2.73 miles) from the spectacular La Fortuna Waterfall and its surrounding rainforest hikes.

Head a little further afield and explore the Venado Caves, a cavernous network of underground caves and tunnels dating back more than 6 million years.

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.