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Welcome to our weekly series Hotel Tip of The Week. 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.
Sitting on the bus from Quepos to our hostel near Manuel Antonio National Park, we knew that, at $10 per night per person, the Backpackers Paradise Costa Linda would not actually be paradise. And on arrival, it was clear we were right. But even though we can provide a list of imperfections with the place, we still highly recommend this budget hotel in Manuel Antonio, an obligatory stop on any Costa Rica vacation.
The best thing about Backpackers Paradise Costa Linda is that the rate, $10 per person per night, applies regardless of what type of room you stay in – whether its in a bed in a 4-6 person dorm or in a private single or double room. Rooms are spread out over two floors, and while the dorms are a bit dark and grungy (but still far better than the 12 to 14 bed dorms we have seen!), the single and double privates are basic but nice, with comfortable beds, strong fans and peace and quiet despite the location of the rooms at the back of the popular restaurant. Call ahead to secure one of the private rooms, to make the most of that $10 price.
Bathrooms, also shared with restaurant guests, are cleaner and brighter than might be expected. Despite heavy use by guests and diners, the bathrooms in this Manuel Antonio hotel always had plenty of toilet paper and were never overly dirty. The showers are clean, and come with large rain showerheads and good water pressure. As far as shared bathrooms go, we have seen much, much worse.
The front of the building is the restaurant/bar and is hopping morning, noon and night on the weekends. The menu is basic, cheap and good for international tourists of all ages, made up mainly of pasta and rice dishes, and the breakfast (see below) was certainly a stand-out feature of a stay at this hostel. During the week, the restaurant is closed after breakfast and before dinner. When not hanging at the beach in Manuel Antonio, hotel guests are welcome to hang here all day, drinking the bottomless cups of free coffee and tea on offering, and using up as much of the free wi-fi connection as they would like. The hotel also offers a laundry service (expect to wait at least one day longer than you’re told to get the clothes back) and the most comprehensive collection of German books we have seen in any book exchange anywhere.
While we’ve mentioned the location of the hotel as a Stand Out Feature below, we want to mention that both the pristine beaches inside the park and the main town beach are absolutely beautiful. Plan in two or three days of utter laziness around your Manuel Antonio National Park visit, and make sure to soak up some Costa Rican sun here.
Stand Out Feature: Location
Backpackers Paradise Costa Linda is the only budget accommodation option located directly in the small town of Manuel Antonio itself, and is just 100m from the entrance to the National Park and a two-minute walk from the beach. The rest of the budget spots are located a half an hour away in the main town of Quepos, requiring a 30min bus ride not only to get to the National Park (the main reason for your visit), but also to the beach and back every day (there is no beach worth visiting in Quepos).
Stand Out Feature: The Price
This great location is available for $10 per person per night, easily half the next best hotel price Manuel Antonio town. The majority of hotels throughout Costa Rica are comparable to U.S. prices, making Backpackers Paradise Costa Linda an absolute steal. In fact, we hope the owners don’t read this and realize just what a bargain they are offering!
Stand Out Feature: Breakfast
For 1800 Colones, or $3.50, the breakfast served up at the restaurant is large enough to fill you up until dinner. The first plate is spilling over with slices of fruit, and is followed by a second plate of scrambled eggs, bread and a heaping mound of our beloved Gallo Pinto.
Room for improvement: Disorganization and apathy
Last week we recommended Hotel Hansi on Bocas del Toro, Panama and stated that it was no surprise that the German-run hotel was so organized and spotless. This hotel is also German -owned and couldn’t be less organized if they tried. As you will find from the reviews on TripAdvisor for Backpackers Paradise Costa Linda, the hotel is filled with imperfections. Our negative experience centered entirely around customer service staff who were constantly stressed: the ladies in the kitchen were also responsible for the laundry, the waiters were also responsible for check-in and check-out. This led to everyone always waiting for something.
The staff at this Manuel Antonio hotel seem to rely on the honesty of their guests, as our food bill was often wrong. This was sometimes in their favor – which we contested – and other times in our favor. While we were honest about really owing more, how many other guests wouldn’t take a free night’s stay or free bottles of water? When the wi-fi went out one day, the entire staff and the owner all just shrugged their shoulders and made no attempt to help – even when specifically showed the problem with the router and how to fix it.
The lack of customer service and professionalism means that guests at Backpackers Paradise Costa Linda do actually get what they pay for – what more can you expect for $10 a night?! However, the location and the price literally can’t be beat, which is why we recommend budget travellers to take the bad with good, and book this hotel in advance for their Manuel Antonio visit.
Location: Turn left into the road up the hill at the main bus stop in town and walk for 100 meters. You will see Costa Linda Backpackers Paradise on the left side.
Price: $10 per person in a single, double or dorm.
LGBT Friendly: No idea, they would never notice.
Amenities: Bottomless coffee and tea, free wi-fi, book exchange, laundry service