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Welcome to our weekly Hotel Tip of The Week series. Being on the road every day of the year means we stay at countless hotels along the way. For all the dingy, disappointing budget digs, there are as many budget accommodation gems. We post one hotel tip of the week, every week, of places we feel confident recommending after having tried and tested them ourselves to show you how budget travel can be possible as well as enjoyable.

One sweltering Sunday afternoon in the landlocked town of Nicoya, Costa Rica, we stood at the bus station with hopes to get down to Montezuma, but it was late and the only direct bus driving anywhere toward the beach was headed for nearby Samara Beach. We had no idea this would become one of our favorite Central American destinations when we spontaneously hopped on and an hour later were walking up the main street, our noses sunk into our Footprint guidebook for advice on where to stay. None sounded great and by looking around most seemed far above our budget. On a whim, we checked out Casa Valeria.

Luck was with us that day, as it turns out, as we couldn’t have been more satisfied with our choice of accommodation in Samara Beach. Casa Valeria sits on one of Samara’s two main streets, which runs parallel to the beach and hosts a slew of beach front hotels and restaurants. The hotel is a bit plain compared to its neighbors when seen from the street, but as we poked our head around the large entry gate, we were pleasantly surprised by the view: five stand-alone beach-side bungalows on either side of a yard with palm trees, plenty of tables and chairs, and hammocks further down towards the beach.

Casa Valeria bungalow Samara Beach

Rather than book into a bungalow for $50, we opted for one of the two budget rooms for $30, knowing we would spend most our time out at the gorgeous beach at less than a minute walk from the door to the water. The rooms are simple, but the beds are big, clean and comfortable, the waves lull you to sleep at night quickly. Every room has a private bathroom with a hot water, fluffy towels and creative décor.

Unlike the standard hotels in the area, Casa Valeria offers a practical experience. Rather than setting up an overpriced restaurant on-site, Casa Valeria makes available a large kitchen for guest use. The kitchen is clean, and while nothing fancy, has the necessary dishes, pots, pans and silverware to cook up and serve simple but complete homemade meals. Two showers are set up in the middle for washing off the sand, and plenty of clothesline space is present, outside but well-hidden, for guests to hang their wet clothes to air dry overnight, keeping your room free of that musty half-wet swimsuit smell.

Samara beach from casa valeria

Stand Out Feature: Value for Money Bungalows

The beach bungalows are excellent value for money: for $50 per night, guests stay in a private bungalow that couldn’t get closer to the beach, and yet a five minute walk from a well-equipped supermarket and plenty of restaurants and bars.

Stand Out Feature: A spacious kitchen

The usage of a good kitchen is one of the few advantages of hostel stays compared to hotels, and even though Casa Valeria is geared more toward mid-budget travelers, the kitchen, with its large fridge and plenty of counter space, is a great way to save cash on a at least a couple of meals and certainly on coffee. For budget travelers, Costa Rica accommodation can be pricey, so a beach front hotel with its own kitchen means a couple (or two friends) can quite easily stay here for around $40 per day per couple, food included.

Casa Valeria Hammocks & bungalow

Room for improvement: Lack of Wi-fi

We almost never stay somewhere without Wi-Fi and Casa Valeria was an exception to the rule. One evening as we sat writing (and probably getting more work done without distracting gossip blogs, videos and Twitter) we overheard the son pointing us out to his mother, explaining the need to install wireless internet. His argument was convincing and we’re fairly certain that Casa Valeria will over Wi-Fi sooner rather than later.

Overall

Casa Valeria is one of the best budget beachside hotels that we have seen so far. The owners are a very friendly family who keep the hotel and the yard spotless. The extras (free coffee, clothes lines, beach showers) are the icing on the cake. Casa Valeria embodies one of those strange travel conundrums, where budget hotels at times offer much better free and guest friendly services than their luxury counterparts up the road. It is a place where you can truly forget and ‘log off’ for a week or two – right at the beach and at the same time close enough to all the delicious restaurants, juice bars, nightlife and a small, but quality supermarket to gather ingredients for some cheap and easy cooking.

Casa Valeria GardenLocation: Beach front in town, near supermarket
Price:
Double room bungalow with private bath and hot water $50, budget double room (no entire bungalow) with private bath $30
LG
BT Friendly: As far as we could tell, yes. Not directly discussed.
Amenities:
Kitchen, hammocks, outside sitting area, coffee & tea, kitchen with fridge, stove, books
Digital Nomad Friendly:
Not until they get wireless internet
Website:
No website, but listed with phone number here.

Sunset Samara Beach Costa Rica

Tags : costa ricaHotel Tipsamara beach

17 Comments

  1. Looks amazing and I am adding it to my list for next year for sure. One question, when you say $50 or $30 do you mean per person or “for the room”? I can picture myself there already.
    Scott recently posted..Traveling On Ice

    1. Hi Scott – it’s $30 for the room, not per person. If you split with someone it’s $15 per person, which, in Costa Rica, is a super rate, plus it’s literally on the beach. Let us know if you go (and also if it’s the same or if there are any changes!)

  2. We are at Casa Valeria as we speak and love it! Thanks for your tips, we planned a month long trip in only one week. Not having much time to research, we followed a lot of your recommendations.

  3. Thanks to both of you for Trailblazing and Tantalizing! Thailand- India- Nepal (Beaches and Buddha’s) next for me as well… just need a travel buddy since partner’s busy with g’babes 🙂 Meanwhile, after whirlwind Intrepid Tour through C.America (Feb. 5 – 17) I’ll have 12 days on my own (53 yrs young + zero Spanish). Samara was already on the list. Am flying out of Liberia. Where else would YOU stop if “best-snorkeling-from-the-beach” was priority? Punta Uva first attracted me, then i heard of machete dudes who rob bikers / walkers on the roads / beaches from Cahuita to Uva. And i’m a single, older chica…. Your wisdom needed por favor…

    1. Thanks so much for the comment (here & on Facebook), Susan 🙂 Your travel plans for Central America sound exciting – don’t worry too much about the lack of Spanish, we met so many travelers there who didn’t speak Spanish at all and still got by fine. You’ll probably pick up the basic phrases on your Intrepid Tour anyway. Where exactly will you be traveling? Is Belize on your list? That’s where we had the best snorkeling from the beach – still one of our favorite spots for snorkeling. If you head to Samara, you have to check out http://www.lazdivaz.com/, run by two lovely ladies. We loved Samara, but I wouldn’t say it’s a great place for snorkeling. If you can make it to Punta Uva / Puerto Viejo, we’d highly recommend it! We didn’t feel unsafe there at all, and there are many solo travelers who you can hang out with. Hope you’ll enjoy Central America as much as we did 🙂

  4. Hi we are thinking of staying at the Casa Valeria with my husband, 11 month old baby and another couple with a 2 yr old end of April. We reserved two rooms next to each other, but can’t tell if this is a place that will be spacious enough for three in a room, comfortable with young children and if we can hang out outside next to each other while the babies sleep (and see/ hear them). Any thought? I love your review. Makes me very excited about visiting Samara!

    1. Hello Beth, great to hear that you are heading to Samara – still thinking about that beach even though we’ve seen so many other beaches since we went there! I think the rooms are big enough for you because the kids are both still so small. Maybe you can specifically ask for the two bungalows closest to the beach – then you wouldn’t have to worry about the babies while they’re sleeping, there are hammocks right there! But even if you cannot get these bungalows, you’d still be only a 30 second walk away 🙂 Hope you’re enjoying Samara and Casa Valeria as much as we did 🙂

  5. My husband and I are heading to Costa Rica in Dec and will be joined by our adult daughter and two single friends. We have been looking at Samara as a destination. Do any of the bungalows have two single beds?

    1. Hi Kate, thanks for getting in touch. I don’t remember seeing any bungalows with single bed.. but that doesn’t mean they don’t have any 😀 Maybe you can send them an email and ask, or try to find out if there are single beds on Tripadvisor?

  6. Of the two bungalows closest to the beach one has a double bed and twin bunk bed and the other had double bed and twin bed. That would probably work and those two are the best location.

  7. Hi Kate,

    December is a busy season, especially for them because they work with agencies that sends them buses full of people. Unfortunately, because if this, they can not take bookings in advance. I would suggest contacting them 2 weeks before you arrive to Samara and see if they have availability and if you can book. If not, there are other options in Samara. Check out our web site http://www.SamaraInfoCenter.com for everything that there is to know about Samara and Carrillo! See you in December!
    Brenda recently posted..new post

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