Learn more about accommodation in the following countries.
Central America is the land of national parks, archeological ruins, and eco-tourism. All of this can be reflected in the accommodation options that you find throughout the region. There are many resorts that cater to the luxury travelers or honeymooning couples, but there are also budget accommodation options that are geared toward the backpacker crowd. The region itself can be quite affordable and offers a variety of activities to choose from. Decide what type of holiday you're looking for and then you're guaranteed to find accommodation in the area that meets your needs. There are beach resorts, scuba diving holidays, mountain and jungle retreats, and eco-lodges, all of which have something interesting and unique to offer the traveler. Consider staying somewhere unique, with an atmosphere that you might not find outside of the region. Look for accommodation that incorporates the surrounding environment and you're sure to enjoy your vacation all the more.
Finding a Cheap Place to Stay
If you're a budget traveler, in most areas in Central America it is possible to show up without reservations and negotiate a great price. Like most other places, you have to be flexible with the type of place you hope to stay if you choose to go this route. This is usually the best option for travelers who are more concerned with money than they are with comfort. Even so, you might be surprised to find out how affordable some mid-range options can be when you book on the spot. If you're looking for a resort, you may get the best deal booking well in advance. Resorts often offer internet specials and it is difficult to beat these prices when you're negotiating with an employee at the reception desk.
There are many other obvious ways to save money on hotels. Travel in the off season, but do seriously consider how weather might affect your trip. A large part of a trip to Central America is about being outdoors so weather can have a dramatic impact on the quality of your trip. You will get the best deals during the rainy season, but this may hinder your experience some as well. Consider what your priorities are and do some research. While traveling in the low season can be money saving, it's not always recommended. In Central America you'll likely do better if you travel during the shoulder months between the rainy and dry seasons.
Stay at places that are locally owned. Locally owned hotels will definitely be cheaper, and they'll likely be far more enjoyable. Your money will not only go farther, but it will stay in the local economy and help the community you're visiting as well. If you stay at a family owned hotel you will also have better luck negotiating a price. The staff at these places is generally small and the owners are more likely to make to adjust rates if you inquire about it.
Beachfront accommodation in any country is usually the most expensive choice. In Costa Rica, all beaches are considered public property and no hotel can claim jurisdiction. For this reason all guests, wherever they are staying, can access a beach, even if it is in front of a private property. If you stay a few streets back from the beach you will save a lot of money, but you will still have access to the same beachfront property as those guests who are staying at a high end resort. This is a great way to save some money but not miss out on a nice vacation.
One of the best tips to save money in Central America is to choose your country wisely. While almost every country in the region has excellent budget options, you'll find the best deals in some of the more affordable countries that still get a lot of tourists. Guatemala is one excellent example. Nicaragua is also growing in popularity as is their tourism infrastructure. Still, hotel prices remain quite when compared to the rest of the region. El Salvador is one of the less visited areas so the infrastructure may be more challenging, but the prices are quite low and the experience can be very memorable. If you think outside the box you'll sure to find some hidden deals.
Accommodation Types for Every Traveler
You'll find almost any type of accommodation throughout Central America. Because tourism in the area is very geared toward national parks and wildlife, eco-lodges are a popular type of hotel throughout the region. Ecotourism has grown dramatically in recent decades, and Central America has been a haven for that. If you're particularly interested in staying in a facility that is environmentally sensitive, do some research first. Many places refer to themselves as an eco-lodge in name only, while their practices are not particularly environmentally sound. If you do the right research however you are likely to find some responsible and reputable options that can make for a great vacation.
Many visitors head to the beaches in Central America for a resort vacation. High end hotels line many of the beaches in countries like Costa Rica or Belize. If you're traveling for your honeymoon or are hoping for a luxurious getaway, then these resorts are likely what you have in mind. Many have attached restaurants where you can enjoy an excellent seafood meal. They often coordinate tours and excursions for their guests as well. In order to get the best deal possible, book well in advance and you will enjoy a great retreat on a scenic, and in many cases, isolated beach.
Budget hotels abound in Central America. In many places it's not necessary to make reservations in advance. You can simply show up and negotiate a fair price. This allows you to check out the room before making a commitment. Most of these guesthouses have simple furnishings, a shared bathroom, and a small but friendly staff. There's often a common area where guests can relax and socialize, but most budget guesthouses are not actually hostels. In some of the more touristy areas however you will find a handful of hostels available. Wherever you stay, do check the hot water before paying. Most low cost hotels use electric, instantaneous hot water heaters. These devices attempt to heat the water as it comes out of the spigot, but there are some obvious problems with the effectiveness of this system. Don't be surprised if your shower is lukewarm at best.
Many budget hotels in Central America are designed for long term visitors. They are often equipped with televisions in the common area, a large stash of DVDs, a library where you can borrow books, and even a small restaurant or bar. Some visitors find themselves spending more time than they'd planned in their hotel relaxing. You can walk by the common area and see backpackers crashed on the sofas watching the latest movie on television. While everybody needs down time from their trip, don't forget why you're in town. Head out and explore the area, visit the market, and get to know people who aren't staying in your hotel. Your vacation will be all the better for this.
Affordability By Country
There are some countries in Central America that offer more affordability than others. In particular, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua are quite affordable. The hotel options are most abundant in these countries where you will find the highest concentration of tourists. That being said, the Bay Islands in Honduras, have dramatically increased in price with the growing number of cruise ships that visit the area. Still, you can find some great and affordable places to stay, but you will get the best prices on food and souvenirs when there is not a cruise ship in port.
Belize, Costa Rica and Panama are the more expensive countries in Central America. Panama City in particular can be surprisingly expensive, particularly if you're arriving from elsewhere in Central America. Still, there are some affordable hostels and guesthouses throughout the city that cater to the backpacker crowd. Look into the different neighborhoods and you'll likely find some interesting options.
Costa Rice continues to grow in popularity and in price. Every year there are more resorts built. If you stay inland away from the beach you will save yourself some money. Also, head to the beaches that are popular with the surfers as these areas often have a wide selection of affordable sleeping options. If you're planning to stay in one area for a longer period of time, also use that as a negotiating factor. You're likely to get a cheaper rate on the room the longer you're in town.
Belize will always be a diver's paradise. Some hotels offer diving packages that may bring the price of your room down in cost. If you plan to do any diving, inquire about this before you make a reservation. There are also some great, locally owned hotels that are cheaper in cost than the larger hotel chains. As with anywhere else, staying local can save you a lot of money.