My Favorite Places to Stay: Best Hotels and Hostels in Central America and Mexico

From under $10 and up to $100, all of these best hotels and hostels in Central America share one thing in common: AWESOMENESS.

And, well, great value for the money.

I’ve personally stayed at every one of the following locations listed. As most typically the largest part of my budget (and where I spend a good chunk of time), I take my accommodation spending VERY seriously and put a lot of time and research into deciding which hostel or hotel I stay at. An amazing hotel can make your experience, while a crap one can definitely break it (or at least put a big damper on the situation).

Take advantage of my hours of location and review research and read on for my recommendations!

(I’ll continue to update this list as I continue my travels throughout Central America – next up, Belize!)

Best Hotels and Hostels in Central America and Mexico

Best Hostels and Hotels in Costa Rica

Best Hostel in Jaco

Room2Board (visited December 2015)Best Hostel Ever Room2Board Jaco Costa Rica Pool

the restaurant/bar area, with the pool (and movie screen!) just beyond

$20 for a dorm bed, $70 for a private room (breakfast not included)
While the prices for this hostel are higher than most that I’d choose to stay in – it is TOTALLY worth it! Room2Board is hands-down the best hostel I’ve ever stayed at anywhere in Latin America (and is probably tied with Abraham Hostel Tel Aviv for best hostel in the world). Why? The in-house bar, on-site pool (with a water slide!) and short walk to the beach are all contributing factors. This hostel also consistently attracts fun, laid back travelers and creates the perfect balance between party and relaxation. Read more about Room2Board with my full review here

Best Hotel in Mal Pais

Hotel Moana (visited December 2015)

Hotel Moana Mal Pais Costa Rica

$95 and up for a suite (breakfast included)
Hotel Moana is a honeymoon hotspot in Costa Rica, and it makes sense. While I was a solo travel (boohoo) on this one, I still really appreciate the sexiness of my gorgeous suite. Animal print details provided a wild vibe in this African-themed hotel, without ever feeling cheesy or overdone. Even if you chose not to stay here, you should NOT miss our on their fabulous restaurant – it’s a must-visit for a sunset while in Mal Pais. Read more about Hotel Moana with my review here

Best Hotels in Montezuma

Amor de Mar (visited December 2015)

Amor de Mar Montezuma Costa Rica

$100 and up for a room with private bathroom
Amor de Mar is located on the coast of Montezuma, an absolute stunning and peaceful location. Hammocks are strung thoughtfully throughout the property’s expansive garden, most with a beautiful view of the sea. While the price may seem a bit high (especially with no breakfast included), it is worth it, especially in notoriously pricey Montezuma. Read more about Amor de Mar with my review here

La Cascada (visited December 2015)

La Cascada Family Run Hotel in Montezuma Costa Rica

$50 and up for a fan room with private bathroom
La Cascada, so named for the waterfall just beyond the hotel, is a family-run all-in-one. While the rooms are basic, they are comfortable and the wifi is surprisingly good. The staff can help you organize tours, set you up with a meal in their restaurant, and of course – provide a super comfy and budget priced room. Read more about La Cascada with my review here

Best Hotel in San Jose

Hotel Presidente (visited December 2015)

$95 and up for a private room including breakfast
While San Jose, Costa Rica’s capital, certainly isn’t a crowd pleaser, it’s usually a must for anyone with a cheap international flight (like me). If you’ve got to stay overnight to catch a flight, or you want to check the city out for yourself, Hotel Presidente is perfectly located to do so. A modern and funky design hotel in the center of a pretty dreary city, don’t miss this bright spot on your visit. And the breakfast is AWESOME, especially for vegetarians. Read more about Hotel Presidente with my review here

Best Hostels and Hotels in El Salvador

Best Hostel in San Salvador

Hostel Cafe San Andres (visited April 2016)
Starting at $20 for a shared bathroom no AC, and $35 for a private bathroom with AC
A convenient place to base yourself for a day or two in San Salvador (or if you’ve got less than 24 hours on a layover like me), the internet is decently fast, the owner’s wife makes great vegetarian food (made to order and upon request) for super cheap, and overall it’s just a friendly atmosphere. The hotel owner can also arrange pickup and drop off to the airport for an added fee (be sure to negotiate – it should cost around $10).

Best Hostels and Hotels in Guatemala

Best Hostel and Hotel in Antigua

Hostel Shalom
$20 a night for a double room with shared bathroom ($26 for private bath), including breakfast
Super nice and friendly staff, and a very secure (they lock and bar off the main door at night) and convenient (right in the middle of everything) location. Bonus points because I was traveling with my adopted pup: they’re dog friendly! The breakfast was also great and vegetarian-approved.

Casa Rustica

Casa Rustica Antigua Guatemala

$40 a night for shared bathroom ($60 for private bath)
This hotel has seriously one of the prettiest grounds of any place I’ve visited. Don’t miss the view from the roof – it is incredible! The owner of Casa Rustica and several other hotels in Antigua is also an animal lover, he had three super sweet and adopted dogs on the property when I visited. The front desk workers speak excellent English and can arrange transfers at a really reasonable cost, and also did a money exchange for me at a better rate than anywhere else in Guatemala. The location is also perfect in the center of Antigua and walking distance to anything and everything.

Best Hostels and Hotels in Mexico

Best Hostel and Hotels in Cancun

Hostal Mayapan
$15 a night for a dorm bed plus a very basic breakfast
The ONLY hostel in the Hotel Zone of Cancun, Mayapan is an old shopping mall turned hostel/hotel (the hotel part is called Mayafair, below). It is cheap and cheerful, with clean bathrooms, very basic dorm rooms, and lockers supplied. Just a short walk to any and all Cancun nightlife.

Mayafair Design
$50 a night for a suite, with private bathroom and soaking bath
The hotel counterpart to the aforementioned Hostal Mayapan, Mayafair Design hotel is super cool and one-of-a-kind (as well as being quite easy on the wallet). With the no-longer-in-use escalators still intact, and stores having been turned into sleek and modern hotel rooms, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Each room is unique and decorated to a theme.

Riu Caribe (and Riu Cancun: slightly more expensive)
Starting at $80 per night, per person for all-you-can-eat and drink, two beds room with private bathroom
Both budget-friendly all-inclusive feature multiple pools, multiple restaurant choices (including buffets), a wide variety of bars, night time entertainment, day time activities and sports, and a beautiful white sand beach. Both Riu Cancun and Riu Caribe are also located in the Hotel Zone area.
**If you’re interested in Riu, please send me an email and I can give you a special bonus link to earn you 200 free RiuClass points towards a future stay**

Best Hotel in Isla Mujeres

Bucaneros Hotel

Hotel Bucaneros Isla Mujeres

Starting at $60 a night, including breakfast
Isla Mujeres is not known for being inexpensive, but Hotel Bucaneros is an absolute steal! The rooms are big, and come with balconies and mini-fridges (perfect for self-catering like I like to do). The hotel itself is smack dab in the center of the “action” (if you can call it action in sleepy Isla Mujeres). It’s also just a short walk from the beach. The staff are super friendly, helping out with maps and advice, and they even let us use the ground-floor shower after checking out of our room and spending the day on the beach before catching our ferry.

Best Hotels in Puerto Vallarta

Riu Vallarta and Riu Jalisco
Starting at $80 per night, per person for all-you-can-eat and drink, two beds room with private bathroom
Both budget-friendly all-inclusives feature multiple pools, multiple restaurant choices (including buffets), a wide variety of bars, night time entertainment, day time activities and sports, and a beautiful white sand beach.
**If you’re interested in Riu, please send me an email and I can give you a special bonus link to earn you 200 free RiuClass points towards a future stay**

Best Hostel and Hotel in Mexico City

Best Hotel Near Mexico City International Airport

Faja de Oro

Hotel Faja de Oro, Mexico City Airport Hotel

the smallest of the jacuzzi options

$30 per night for a regular room with private bathroom, $45 per night for a jacuzzi suite
Anytime we need to catch an early flight out from Mexico City’s international airport, we ALWAYS opt for Faja de Oro. While the hotel is in a pretty seedy neighborhood (it’s the kinda place your taxi drives into to drop you off inside, instead of out front), who wants to leave when you’ve got a great onsite restaurant (with ridiculously cheap room service), wifi, and a jacuzzi suite? Nothing says pre-flight relaxation like watching Suits while soaking in the tub (bring a bottle or two of wine with you). Every room is different, and one time we had a jacuzzi tub the size of a small swimming pool.
*Note* The most recent time we stayed, there was REALLY loud music bumping all night long. If that’s the case next time, I’ll remove them from this list.

Best Hostel in Roma/Condesa

Stayinn Barefoot Condesa

Barefoot Inn Condesa

my friend Bel and I out front of the hostel, with a staff member’s puppy

$50 per night and up for a private room, $15 for a dorm bed. Both prices include a tasty breakfast
This awesome hostel is perfectly located in one of my favorite neighborhoods in Mexico City. It is walking distance from some amazing places to eat, peaceful parks, LOTS of yoga studios, and convenient access to public transportation (metro and bus). It also has an awesome rooftop bar, and lots of places to congregate with friends. The staff are SUPER friendly themselves, as well. Great hostel choice if you’re a solo traveler in Mexico City, looking to meet new people.

Best Hostels and Hotels in Panama

Best Hostel in Bocas del Toro – Isla Colon

Selina Hostel
$70 per night for a double room (with shared bath – $10 more for a private bath), $20 for a dorm bed
Selina is THE place to be in Bocas. It is conveniently located near the strip, and walking distance to all the Bocas del Toro offerings. The restaurant serves delish food (lots of vegetarian options), and the bar features live music at night. If you get too hot (it happens a LOT in Panama), just jump off the Selina deck straight into the ocean!

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Best Hotels and Hostels in Central America and Mexico

Do you have a favorite Central American or Mexican hostel or hotel?


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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