9 Great Budget Hotels in Central America

Finding great budget hotels is like winning the travel lottery because they allow you to make your travel budget go even further. Over the years we’ve become expert at choosing the best budget hotels and for the first time we’re sharing what we think are the 9 best budget hotels in Central America, gleaned from more than three years of travel through Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Panama. We’ve personally vetted all of these budget hotels so you don’t have to. Consider them Trans-Americas Journey approved.

9 great budget hotels in Central America

Hotel Aranjez - San Jose, Costa Rica

Hotel Aranjuez in Costa Rica.

San Jose, Costa Rica: Hotel Aranjuez offers a range of spotlessly clean rooms in three adjoining houses in a safe, quiet neighborhood of Costa Rica’s capital convenient to most attractions at extremely reasonable rates which include the best hotel breakfast buffet we’ve ever had in any price point. We stayed here repeatedly and they even have (limited) parking.
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El Tunco Beach, El Salvador: There are two places called Papaya Guesthouse in this beach hangout. (UPDATE: New name is Papaya’s Lodge to help alleviate the confusion.) You want the one directly across the street from a hotel called La Guitara. Look for the enormous wooden gate. This place is spotless, has a nice little pool and sitting areas with hammocks and offers rooms with A/C and large, stylish rooms with fans and private baths for US$25 plus perfectly acceptable smaller rooms at smaller price points (US$14) with shared bathrooms (that’s what we went for). Toss in Wi-Fi, parking, a great staff, and a decent shared kitchen and you can’t beat it.
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Hostal Amador Familiar - Panama City

Hostal Amador Familiar in Panama.

Panama City, Panama: Hostal Amador Familiar (dorm beds from US$15 per night and private rooms with a fan from $30 for two people) is beyond spotlessly clean thanks to the tireless efforts of the best hotel housekeeper we’ve ever seen at any hotel in any price point.There’s a large, shared, semi-outdoor kitchen which stocks paper towels and  tin foil for guest use in addition to the usual supplies. Breakfast is included.There’s a large and secure parking lot. It’s located in a quite neighborhood from which you can easily access Casco Viejo, the Amador Causeway, downtown Panama City and other areas.
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Cahuita, Costa Rica: At Cabinas Palmer US$20 got us a clean private double with bathroom, fan, TV, a furnished porch with a hammock, free coffee and bananas all day, use of a shared kitchen, parking, and Wi-Fi. It’s right in the center of town, just ask for it when you arrive.
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Guancasos hotel - Gracias del Dios, Honduras

Hotel & Restaurant Guancascos in Honduras.

Gracias de Dios, Honduras: We called Hotel & Restaurant Guancascos home while we were in Gracias and you should too. Located just below the Castillo San Cristobal fort, the 17 rooms (US$10 dorm and rooms from US$26) are spotless and well-appointed, the staff is charming, free Wi-Fi works in the common area and in the three rooms under the restaurant, which is excellent. Owner Fronicas “Frony” Miedema, a Dutch woman who’s lived in Honduras for more than 20 years, will be happy to give you information about the area and arrange tours and transportation. When we were there the hotel was also in the final stages of gaining green certification, making it one of only a few eco-certified hotels in Honduras.
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San Ignacio, Belize: Nefry’s Retreat has four peaceful, clean rooms with Wi-Fi and A/C for around US$20 located about a five minute walk from the bustle of the town’s main drag. We really liked the homey feel. It’s not a rock bottom price, but it’s value for money especially in Belize.
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Hostal Hansi - Bocas del Toro, Panama

Hostal Hansi in Panama.

Bocas del Toro, Panama: Hostal Hansi, located just off Main Street in the town of Bocas, has a wide range of different room types from singles with shared bath (from US$11) to private doubles (from US$25). Wi-Fi and use of a spotless kitchen is included. It’s quiet and clean (there is a resident cat) and it’s extremely popular. Hansi does not take reservations so get there as early as you can to see about available rooms.
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Harvest House, Leon Nicaragua

Harvest House in Nicaragua.

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala: Hospedaje Contemporaneo down by the lakeshore, delivers clean, quiet rooms with a bathroom, a TV, secure parking and a good WiFi signal for 120Q (about US$15). We even scored a lake view (ask for room 4 or 5).
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León, NicaraguaHarvest House was created by Jason Greene, a smart, surprisingly young man from North Carolina, and it’s spotlessly clean, brightly painted, comfortably furnished and has a huge shared kitchen. Rooms, which range from singles with shared bath to small private apartments, were irresistible (from US$15 per night or from US$150 per month). We booked a double room with shared bath for a month, spending less and getting more than we would have in any hostel.
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3 Comments

  1. Samantha July 2, 2015 at 11:28 am - Reply

    Costa Rica is on our list and thank you for the information about the Hotel Aranjuez. It’s nice to have suggestions and know of places that other people have experienced. Thanks for the info. Buffet sound nice too, lol

  2. Sunu Philip July 7, 2015 at 7:03 am - Reply

    Great information for first time travelers to Central America. Nice photographs and excellent narration about the places.

  3. Burma travel March 23, 2017 at 11:11 pm - Reply

    Thank you for sharing the hotel list, it was really helpful for those who wanted to come here for the first time

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