Darn Good Digs

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Darn Good Digs in Costa Rica

Costa Rica's best independently owned bed and breakfasts, small hotels and inns for budget-minded travelers, all with rooms under US$150. Darn Good Digs stand out for their originality, spectacular locations, scrumptious food, and great vibes.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Arenal Volcano Region (Nuevo Arenal, Costa Rica): Lucky Bug B & B
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, December '12

Price Range: US$69-$120 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Lucky Bug B & B so Darn Good? We are suckers for a good theme and the Lucky Bug does not disappoint with its beautifully adorned rainforest-themed rooms. We stayed in the art-filled Frog Room where everything from the lampshades to the wrought-iron bed frame and the ceramic sink basin leaped with tropical frogs. Ribbit. In the mornings, we enjoyed eating a scrumptious breakfast at the restaurant overlooking Lucky Bug's lush grounds, and then wandering around the on-site art gallery picking out gifts for back home.

Location: Lucky Bug is located on Lake Arenal's main road between the adventure hotspots of La Fortuna and Monteverde. Nuevo Arenal, a small town three kilometers down the road, has a few restaurants, a gas station, and a growing expat community. While we planned to go kayaking on the lake, we awoke to heavy downpours and had to switch gears. Within forty minutes, we found ourselves lounging in the thermal pools and sipping piña coladas at The Springs Resort and Spa (a less expensive but still fancy alternative to the more famous Tabacon Hot Springs).

Rooms: Lucky Bug has four guest rooms upstairs, two with balconies, plus one large suite downstairs, all decorated with colorful artwork from local Costa Rican artisans. Nature abounds at Lucky Bug. We could smell ripe guava fruit in the garden alongside the driveway, and spot frogs hopping around in the evenings. Guests can wander the grounds (look out for leaf-cutter ants) or take a canoe out on Lucky Bug's little pond.

Food: We ate our yummy and filling breakfast of scrambled eggs, toast with homemade jelly, and fresh fruit while sitting on the deck near the hummingbird feeders checking out the giant iguanas and basilisk lizards below. If we had more time we would have eaten lunch or dinner at Lucky Bug's restaurant, Caballo Negro, but we couldn't resist trying some of the local hotspots, such as the fabulous Gingerbread.

Vibe: Lucky Bug is a family affair, owned and run by Monica and her daughter Alexandra. Monica was away for most of our stay, but Alexandra was fun and friendly and steered us right on our rainy day.

Keep in Mind: Just so you're not confused when you arrive, guestrooms are tucked in the back of the property behind the owner's home and pond, while breakfast is served in the restaurant attached to the gallery along the roadside. Also, Lucky Bug is not within walking distance to the area's attractions, so having your own transport may be a good idea.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Arenal Volcano Region (Santa Clara - San Carlos): Tree Houses Hotel Costa Rica
 Nominated By: Clint, Raleigh, North Carolina, Jan '09

Price Range: US$95-$140 # of Rooms: 6 Kid-Friendly: Yes

Why so darn good? "The location is gorgeous. The surrounding land is amazing. The owners are incredibly friendly and helpful. The price is great, and the breakfasts are delicious." Read more.

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Caribbean Coast (Punta Uva, Costa Rica): Korrigan Lodge
Nominated By: Marina K Villatoro at Travel Experta, February '12

Price Range: US$80-$100 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 4 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Korrigan Lodge so Darn Good? Located on Costa Rica's Caribbean coast, not far from the border with Panama, Korrigan Lodge consists of four wonderfully furnished and comfortable bungalows, each with a private porch and luxurious bathroom. The lodge is set back in the middle of the jungle, yet quiet beaches and nearby restaurants are only a short walk away. Wake up in the morning to the sounds of howler monkeys and tropical birds, and then enjoy a delicious breakfast that includes fresh fruit, eggs, and home-baked croissants.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Central Valley (Poas Volcano, Costa Rica): Poas Lodge and Restaurant
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12

Hotel Website: www.poaslodge.com     Phone: (506) 2482 1091

check availability, get rates, and reserve online at booking.com

New owners took over Poas Lodge in 2013.

Price Range: US$55-$90 # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Poas Lodge and Restaurant so Darn Good? Wow - the view! Feel the stress drain as you sip your wine in the candle-lit lounge staring out the wall of windows, mesmerized by the twinkling lights of San Jose below or a lightning storm in the distance.

Location: On the main road just two kilometers from Poas Volcano National Park, the lodge is the perfect place to stay for an early morning visit to the volcano before the infamous clouds roll in. The lodge is forty-five minutes from the San Jose airport and even closer to the Doka Coffee Estate and La Paz Waterfall Gardens.

Rooms: Decked out in soothing neutral tones, the lodge's five rooms have comfy beds with warm soft blankets, fresh-cut flowers, and views overlooking the Central Valley. Hummingbirds dart around the feeders in the lodge's hummingbird garden, and cows graze in the fields below.

Food: The Lodge's restaurant/lounge serves up delicious food in a supremely atmospheric setting. The breakfast spread includes home-made cakes, a choice of cereals, fresh fruit salad, and a hot entrée, such as the traditional pico de gallo. For dinner, the menu offers both typical Costa Rican fare and International dishes - either way you go the food is wholesome and fresh. For lunch we went right next door to a little restaurant, which served up the best arroz con pollo I ate on the whole trip (and I ate a lot!).

Vibe: Super-chill, especially at night when the candles are lit.

Keep in Mind: Bring warm clothing as it is cool up at Poas, though in the lodge you'll find heaters in the rooms and cozy blankets in the lounge to keep your warm.

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casa bella rita casa bella rita casa bella rita casa bella rita

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Central Valley, San Jose Area (Santa Ana, Costa Rica): Casa Bella Rita
Nominated By: Mary, Des Moines, Iowa, USA, August '08

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Price Range: US$109-$139 (breakfast included) # of Rooms: 5 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes the Casa Bella Rita so Darn Good? Centrally located in Costa Rica's San Jose province, Casa Bella Rita is a beautiful bed & breakfast with views overlooking a magnificent canyon. Steve and Rita, the owners, are amazing, and the accommodations and staff exceeded our expectations day after day.

Location: The B & B is located in Santa Ana, a suburb of San Jose, in Costa Rica's Central Valley, just twenty minutes to both downtown and the airport. Many popular restaurants and shops are nearby, and many major sites were just a day trip away such as La Paz Waterfall Gardens and the Poas Volcano National Park.

Rooms: The five rooms are all uniquely decorated with local art. We stayed in the spacious Heliconia Bedroom, located in a separate cabina off the main courtyard. Our room was spotless, the bed and bedding was luxurious and comfortable, and the honor bar was always well stocked with drinks and yummy snacks. The daily fresh flowers were an added bonus.

Food: For breakfast, Rita serves a hot entrée, fruit bowl, coffee, and juice on the amazing patio overlooking the canyon. If you do not feel like going out to eat, Steve and Rita will provide dinner for a small fee if they are cooking for themselves.

Vibe: Casa Bella Rita has a very relaxed vibe, and Steve and Rita made us feel right at home. Both are knowledgeable on everything Costa Rica, and they work hard to make sure your experience is nothing less than excellent.

Things to Keep in Mind: If you'd like help planning any part of your trip, Rita is the person to see. She has done her research on what tour companies and private drivers are the best, and has up to date information on trip descriptions, prices, and modes of transportation. Also, keep in mind that a complimentary airport pickup is included in the price, just one of the little extras that makes this place so great!

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arco iris lodge arco iris lodge arco iris lodge arco iris lodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Monteverde Region (Santa Elena, Costa Rica): Arco Iris Lodge
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12

Price Range: US$ (breakfast extra) # of Rooms: 20 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Arco Iris Lodge so Darn Good? Arco Iris is conveniently located just off Santa Elena's central triangle, yet its collection of immaculate cabins set among lush grounds makes it a world its own. We loved coming back to our cabin after a day of hiking in the cloud forest to relax on our front porch while looking forward to the next morning's scrumptious breakfast buffet.

Location: The cool little mountain town of Santa Elena, three hours from San Jose, is the gateway to the Monteverde region. While a few attractions such as the lovely Orchid Garden, as well as restaurants and grocery stores, are within walking distance to Arco Iris, you'll need transport to take advantage of all that the region has to offer. We recommend hiking in the Children's Eternal Rainforest and the Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge, touring Bat Jungle, and zip-lining at the Original Canopy Tour (Jimmy Carter did it too!).

Rooms: The lodge's twenty cabins, all built by local craftsmen using local materials, are set on a hill connected by stone paths winding through landscaped gardens abounding with tropical flowers and fruit trees. Our Standard Room had two beds, a blue-tiled rain shower, and honey soap.

Food: A huge shout-out to the breakfast buffet! With three types of fresh-baked breads (favorite: banana), an assortment of home-made jams (favorite: guayaba), tropical fruit salad, yogurt, granola, gallo pinto, plantains, potato pancakes, meats and cheeses, who could not come back for more? The lodge harvests much of its own produce right from its fruit trees and herb and vegetable garden behind the kitchen. For other meals, Santa Elena and the surrounding area have enough yummy restaurants to keep you busy for awhile.

Vibe: Supremely comfortable and relaxing - an excellent base for Monteverde adventures.

Keep in Mind: The friendly and informative staff at reception will steer you right and set you up with reservations for transportation, guided hikes, tours, and restaurants. Upon their recommendation we went to some of the smaller reserves and saw the resplendent quetzal along with a plethora of other birds and animals.

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hotel luna azul

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Pacific Coast, Nicoya Peninsula (Ostional): Hotel Luna Azul
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12

check availability, get rates, and reserve online

Price Range: Gosh Darn It! # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Hotel Luna Azul so Darn Good? Luna Azul's private bungalows come with outdoor showers and stylish wooden decks overlooking the jungle canopy. The open air restaurant serves scrumptious food in an elegant (but not stuffy) setting, and a swim in the gleaming infinity pool will soothe all your troubles away.

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samara palm lodge samara palm lodge samara palm lodge samara palm lodge

Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice

Pacific Coast, Nicoya Peninsula (Samara Beach): Samara Palm Lodge
Nominated By: Allison and Michael from Darn Good Digs, Brooklyn, NY, August '12

Price Range: US$50-$95 (breakfast extra) # of Rooms: 8 Kid-Friendly: yes

What makes Samara Palm Lodge so Darn Good? Beautifully maintained and much loved by its amiable, yet unobtrusive Swiss-German owners, the Samara Palm Lodge won us over from the moment we stepped through the gate. We could have spent all day swimming in the lovely pool or chillaxing in the thatched-roof lounge admiring the tropical gardens and looking for iguanas and monkeys in the trees.

Location: Located on the Nicoya Peninsula on Costa Rica's Pacific coast, Samara is a little surfer town with an excellent swimming beach protected from riptides by a coral reef. One morning we drove ten minutes to the beautiful palm-lined Playa Carrillo where we had nearly the whole beach to ourselves, not counting the bright red sand crabs!

Rooms: The lodge's eight guestrooms and one family suite, all overlooking the pool, are simply yet cheerfully decorated with shells and towels sculpted into sea animals, and colorful hangings on the walls. Some rooms have air conditioners (much appreciated while we were there in July) and televisions.

Food: The yummy European-style breakfast includes a plate of meat and cheeses, along with bread, cereal, yogurt, and fresh fruit salad. While we planned on checking out some local breakfast spots, we couldn't resist opting for a leisurely breakfast by the pool each morning.

Vibe: Wonderfully peaceful, yet family friendly - we always looked forward to coming home to our little hideway after a day at the beach.

Keep in Mind: The lodge is a few blocks from the main part of town and the beach, but an easy walk.

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Darn Good Digs Review - Editors' Choice - Full Review Coming Soon!

Pacific Coast, Nicoya Peninsula (Tamarindo): Villa Alegre
 Nominated By: Jonathan Carne, Wilmington, North Carolina, Jan '12

Price Range: US$145-$230 (ask for a darn good digs discount!) # of Rooms: 7 Kid-Friendly: Yes

Why so darn good? "Barry and Suzye, the owners, were very helpful with getting the arrangements confirmed and having us picked up at the airport in Liberia, starting our vacation the right way. The 'Russia' casita we rented for the week was so comfortable and spacious as we traveled with our three young sons. Having room to rest, hang out and enjoy each other was key. I cannot overstate 'The Breakfast' - each and every day Barry prepared so many wonderful treats, and each day started with anticipation of what we would be served. The beach is a short walk from Alegre and the views, water and sand are spectacular. We enjoyed surfing, snorkeling, shopping, great restaurants and a lot of relaxing by the pool. Definitely will be going back!"





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