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Budget hotels & hostels
Guesthouses and B&Bs
Celeste Mountain Lodge
One of the most innovative and sustainable hotels we’ve ever seen, Celeste Mountain Lodge is proof that one can be ecofriendly without giving up comfort or style...
Hotel El Silencio Del Campo
This lovely resort 4km west of town has cabins that are luxurious without being showy, and have attractive tiling, plush bedding and soft lighting. Unfortunately, a hideously ugly and huge hotel has rudely put up its walls right next to the property.
Cloud Forest Lodge
Spacious rooms at this hilltop lodge are spotless and have hot showers, but lack extras such as satellite TV...
Catarata Eco Lodge
Well, they do recycle and don’t automatically throw your linens in the wash every day; apart from that, the ‘eco’ of this lodge extends to simply caring about the environment...
Hotel Fonda Vela
With a convenient location near the Monteverde reserve, unique architectural styling, 14 hectares of trail-laced grounds and a private stable, this classy retreat is a sophisticated base for enjoying nature...
Hotel Finca Valverde
Just outside Santa Elena, this working coffee farm is a great choice if you’re looking for something a bit different...
Trapp Family Lodge
The closest lodge to the reserve entrance (just under 1km away) has 20 spacious rooms with high wooden ceilings, big bathrooms and fabulous views from picture windows (which overlook either gardens or cloud forest)...
Hotel Ficus Sunset Suites
Set on the road out of Santa Elena, just before the highway, this new build has upscale, lodge-like rooms in a hilltop compound within walking distance from town.
Cabinas El Pueblo
This pleasant hostel run by an attentive Tico couple is one of Santa Elena's best value options. The price includes free breakfast, wi-fi and free coffee or tea all day...
Cabinas Vista Al Golfo
Rooms in this bright, kitschy lodge are well kept, the showers are hot and the owners will make you feel right at home. The upstairs balcony rooms ($5 extra) have great views of the rainforest and, on a clear day, the Golfo de Nicoya...
Arenal Backpackers Resort
Set out on its own, this self-proclaimed ‘five-star hostel’ with volcano views is among the cushier hostels in Costa Rica. Dorm rooms have private hot-water bathroom, and you’ll sleep easy on the thick, orthopedic mattresses...
Affiliated with Hostels International, but nothing particularly special, digs are dingy but cheap with a solid in-house bus booking service to San José and Managua.
Part of the Costa Rica Hostel Network, Monteverde Backpackers is smaller and more basic than the other cheapies, but it’s clean and friendly, with wood-paneled rooms, comfy beds and some of the hottest, most powerful showers we’ve ever felt...
Hotel Las Colinas
The friendly owners of Las Colinas have completely remodeled this hotel, creating modern, airy rooms and a 2nd-story terrace with ample sun lounges and great views of the volcano...
This simple Tico family-run lodge in Cerro Plano has a very friendly, laid-back feel...
Arenal Hostel Resort
A hotel under new, ambitious management. The lodge rooms sprinkled around the garden are spacious with stone floors. Upstairs rooms have balconies, and all have air-con...
A colorful, corrugated tin and cinder block hovel that is well priced and comes with friendly management and a peaceful, back roads location. Guests share communal bathrooms.
This reader-recommended budget spot continues to get raves for its delightful, English-speaking staff and the marimba-playing owner and manager Eddy. Breakfast is an extra US$3, but there’s a shared kitchen...
Rooms here are ragged and worn, despite the lovely entry way. The more expensive ones have chipped tiled floors, soaring ceilings, and are do-able, but steer clear of the gritty cheapies. All rooms are set around a courtyard and management is lovely.
Hummingbird Nest B&B
At the entrance to town you’ll see a small path that leads up the (steep) hill to one of our favorite B&Bs...
Hostel El Sueno
This friendly Tico-run hotel has huge wooden rooms with private hot showers. The pricier upstairs rooms are airier, though the best ones are toward the back. There’s a great balcony with sweeping views of the area.
La Choza Inn Hostel
This popular budget inn 100m west of Parque Central has a great variety of rooms – from spotless doubles in a pink washed concrete section to airy, palm-wood dorm rooms...