The last 3 days of our trip were meant to be spent in Tamarindo, but we hated Tamarindo and skipped town for nearby Playa Grande. We left in a hurry because our hotel in Tamarindo was the worst hotel we'd stayed at in Costa Rica, and when we arrived early the owners gave us complimentary coffee while we waited for the room to be prepared. Right away everyone was exceptionally nice so we knew we had made the right choice coming there.
When we got to our room we were so happy because the bed was sooo comfortable, the AC was blasting, everything was so clean and we had just left such a terrible disgusting hotel that morning that it felt like our vacation had been saved. Seriously.
When we had a little more time to chat with the owners, we found out that the hotel had just changed hands that very week, which surprised us a little because it seemed just like what all the reviews had mentioned. The new owners are so warm and friendly that it seems like it couldn't have been better before they arrived. They also had an intern helping them named Jeannette who was studying hotel management and she was working hard to make sure we had whatever we needed at all hours of the day. We even went out for drinks one night at the nearby Hotel Bula Bula just to hang out because we got along so well.
Hotel Cantarana is a 2 minute walk from Playa Grande which has a protected coastline that makes it quiet and beautiful. The area feels more residential than anything, and none of the hotels or homes are right on the beach so the beach feels pristine and is the opposite of Tamarindo which is dirtier, congested, has people selling you things, and has hotels and bars all along the beach.
There's also a little surf shop a few doors down from Hotel Cantarana where we rented a couple of surf boards and learned to surf (or tried anyway).
The restaurant wasn't open while we were there in the offseason so we didn't get to sample any of the dishes we read about in the other reviews. They do have a phenomenal breakfast in the morning though even in the offseason.
Overall, Hotel Cantarana was by far the best hotel experience we had in Costa Rica. Although it was one of the more expensive places we stayed, it was also one of the nicest, definitely the friendliest, and still a great value especially considering the exceptional service, the well kept pool and grounds, and the amazing 3 course breakfast (fresh fruit, cereal, meats and bread, eggs to order) that was included (and so big we weren't able to finish it). We were sad to leave and hugged all the staff on our way out- it felt a little like leaving behind family as they waved goodbye while we drove away. This is definitely the only hotel in Costa Rica I felt that way about, and we stayed at many places over the course of 2 weeks. We're hoping to go back some day.
We had a nice view of the pool from the balcony outside of our "sailboat room".
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dear K. & J. thank you so much for your nice words. Jeannette had to go back to Germany, but only a few days later she decided, she likes it here better, in the warm weather and with all those friendly people around. We have been able to hire her again:) Hopefully she will stay with us for a long time.
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It doesn't feel to us, that we do something special, we are just our self's and enjoy what we are doing. Hope to see you again soon.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.