It was pouring rain in the way it can only in the tropics – torrential, immediately drenching – when I arrived in Playa Samara, on the Pacific coast in Costa Rica, on the bus from San Jose.
So it was a good thing then, that Hotel Belvedere is only moments from the bus stop (a good thing, too, if you’re departing on the 4.30am bus back to San Jose!). I arrived looking like a drowned rat but was greeted warmly by the owners and shown quickly to my room on the second floor, overlooking one of the hotel’s two swimming pools.
Up a short dirt track behind the town and only moments from the beach, Hotel Belvedere is nestled in lush surroundings, its buildings almost hidden by the carefully maintained and colourful tropical garden.
The best thing about Hotel Belvedere’s location is that it’s only a two minute walk to the town and beach – close without being too close, which means it’s quiet but for animal noises and the sound of the rain on the roof at night.
The first thing I did after I set my bags down was to photograph the towel-swans – one day, I am going to learn how to fold them! How does the neck sit up like that?!
The hotel is made up of two buildings – the newer one was built four years ago and is set back a little further from the road. My room was in the main building, modernly decorated and equipped with air-con, fridge, cable television and the all-important wifi.
In fact, everything looks pretty modern so I was surprised to discover that the German owners built Hotel Belvedere 19 years ago. Since then, it’s grown from a handful of rooms to 21.
Because the weather was hot but a little gloomy during my time in Samara, I ended up spending more time hanging around the hotel than I’d expected. Happily, Hotel Belvedere is the perfect place to relax with a book by the pool or on one of the balconies.
Being the off season, it was fairly quiet during the week (though it picked up as the weekend approached!) and on most occasions, I had the pool to myself.
Breakfast of champions
I’m sure I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I’m a huge fan of big breakfasts. Being a budget-conscious traveller but not really in love with the idea of self catering with a box of cereal and a carton of milk, I often try to eat breakfast as late as possible so I can forgo lunch and make it through to dinner.
So imagine my delight then when I discovered that Hotel Belvedere includes breakfast – a bowl of fruit, juice, tea or coffee, a bread basket and a cooked dish.
Served in an airy nook with views of the ocean, I made it my mission to try a different dish every day.
My favourite was the omelette with cheese (which was super cheesy, always a positive!) followed closely by the filling gallo pinto (rice and beans) with scrambled eggs (pictured).
Firmly on the tourist track (and with Air Berlin soon to begin flights to Liberia, a city two hours away sure to increase its popularity with Europeans), the thing I loved most about my time in Samara was that it isn’t overly developed. It still feels a little off the beaten path, even though it’s not.
I also thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Hotel Belvedere and could have spent much longer there had I not had to get back to San Jose on that 4.30am bus to continue on to Panama City. The breakfast and the pool were highlights.
In fact, my only issues during my four days were that when the hotel began to fill up for the weekend I a) no longer had the pool to myself and b) one evening the solar-heated hot water had run out by the time I wanted to have a shower.
Visiting Hotel Belvedere and Playa Samara
Coming from San Jose, Empresa Alfaro have buses that run at midday and arrive in Samara around 5.30pm. One way costs around 3,900 colones (about $8)
It’s also possible to take an earlier bus to Nicoya and change to a local bus which run frequently – it takes just under an hour to get to Samara from Nicoya.
All rooms at Hotel Belvedere include an ensuite and aircon. Some apartments feature a self-catering kitchen. A huge and filling breakfast is included in the rates which start at US$40 for a single. For up to date rates and contact details, visit the Hotel Belvedere website.
Disclaimer: Hotel Belvedere kindly sponsored my stay at their property. All views remain my own.