Review of the Selina Hostels in Costa Rica
During my time in Costa Rica I became quite a fan of the Selina hostel chain.
Selina has hostels primarily in Central and South America as well as in Portugal.
I stayed in Selina San José and Tamarindo although I have visited both Selina North and South Santa Teresa. I’ve heard good things about other Selinas from other travelers I bumped into throughout Costa Rica as well.
So, which Selina’s were the best? Which do I wish I had more time to experience? Check it all out here!
Selina San José
The Common Areas
This Selina was my first impression as I flew into San José. The vibe was super laid back and the decor was more of a modern, hipster, artsy sort of look. The main sitting area is enclosed though the ceiling is open and exposes the sky above letting that nice Costa Rica weather in as the greenery planted around the seating grew out reaching toward the clouds. The main gathering space also features the bar and kitchen to order food. The communal kitchen is not far although it is enclosed with the ceiling built in unlike the other common area. There is also a rooftop bar that seemed to be closed during our stay. All in all the common areas were amazing! They were clean and really great places to chill out with great music and scenery. You can honestly have a photo shoot here (which is what we did)!
Traveling with my boyfriend for my birthday we decided to do private rooms. Selina has a few different options like privates with shared or private bathroom and even suites and studio apartments in addition to, of course, the dorm style rooms.
We opted for the private room with shared bathroom. The cleanliness of the bathroom was standard for a hostel: a little messy but not disgusting.
The room was tiny. There was basically just enough space for the double bed and that’s about it. Luckily our shared bathroom was right next door to our room. It is shared with everyone else – even dorm residents. Access is allowed to other shared bathrooms however so when our bathroom was in use we simply walked down the hall to another. It was a somewhat okay value. I found it to be good enough considering we only stayed one night there.
Check out prices here!
My favorite meal was the Gallo Pinto for breakfast. It was crazy good! It had the typical rice and beans found in a lot of the Costa Rican diet along with scrambled – or fried – eggs, tomatoes/pico, and sour cream. It costed about 3500 CRC (less than $5 USD).
Prices aren’t all too bad eating at Selina. They’re pretty comparable to what would be found eating at restaurants out in town. Most meals are between $5-10. Cocktails are about $5/$6 which can be pricey but they have a good happy hour!
Selina San José was good to use as we passed through the city to get to the rest of Costa Rica. There isn’t a dedicated quite space for CoWorking although we managed to get a bit of work done in the common area even despite the music bumping. The people are super chill but wouldn’t say it’s the best place to meet people unless you’re very outgoing. I would say that overall you do get what you pay for although the tiny private room we booked was just a few bucks overpriced.
The Common Areas
Selina Tamarindo was actually my favorite Selina personally visited in Costa Rica! The common area was completely outdoors and the entire compound has total surfer/camper/nature vibes. Tamarindo itself is a really laid back surfer beachtown though with a ton of tourists. Selina reflected the same atmosphere of the surrounding town as tons of travelers worldwide hung around the common areas at certain times of day.
The “playground” has a volleyball court and tonsss of surfboards for rentals, lessons and tours (which cost about $45/55 and up). The pavilion/hut has sitting tables like picnic benches, the bar/kitchen, and games like ping pong, pool, and giant jenga. Next to the pavilion is the pool and pool lounging area with tents and chairs. As for safety, there are one or two security guards that stand watch nearly all day and definitely at night. The compound is gated and the entry gate from the street is locked during certain times of day.
The first night we got in late and had not yet booked a room so we went into the office to chat about our options and let me tell you… our girl hooked it up. We were going to go for a private but were told one of the dorms were empty (and cheaper than a private) and that if we booked it she’d make sure she didn’t book anyone else in there for the rest of the night. We ended up saving a lot of money and having the room and bathroom to ourselves. It was clean and comfortable though there are tons of ants. Not just the teeny tiny ones… Again, the place has total camper vibes so if you don’t mind getting close to nature (and killing ants) then you’ll be fine. I found that even when you rent a nearly $100 Air Bnb there are still those pesky ants (although far less). I attribute it to the open airy style of living in Costa Rica. Plus the accommodation is situated as stand alone buildings built within the compound so there are slight openings around the door frames too.
The private with the shared bathroom was just as a small as the private at Selina San José. The shared bathroom was better here because it was locked and only shared with one other room (which I think was vacant, it seemed like we had the bathroom to ourselves the whole stay). It was cleaned frequently as well though it did still have its typical hostel messiness like dirt in the cracks and such.
We ate a lot more here sense we stayed about 3 nights. The food is BOMB. And again, the prices are pretty good.
There are options to go for that nitty gritty backpacker budget if you need to as well as the option to feast on crazy meals as well! I did a little of both. To keep costs low I would only order sides at times like pancakes and eggs for a total of 1500 CRC ($2.50 USD) and I’d be full as the portions were really good! Other times I would get an even bigger meal like the Plantain Nachos. Those things tasted AMAZING though a little more pricey at like 4000-4500 CRC I believe ($6-7.50 USD) but definitely worth the extra cash. Happy hour is good here also. I got two cocktails for the price of one ($5-$6). Not bad! For a Costa Rica drink I recommend the Guero Sour. It was tasty! They also have a tank of free water with fruits sliced and mixed in – yum – as well as a free water bottle refill station.
All in all the room and bathrooms were okay. It was the common area and everyone’s good vibes that made it awesome. The staff were crazy chill and super welcoming with smiles, good energy, and funny jokes plus very accommodating. The travelers were just the same – Selina Tamarindo is a great place to meet other travelers as the common area has a lot to do so hanging out there you’re bound to bump into someone and have a conversation with them. There were even a kitten and puppy running around plus howler monkeys in the nearby trees! The beach is about a three minute walk too. You’re really in touch with nature, animals, great food, amazing people, and the most chill vibes at Selina Tamarindo.
Other Selinas in Costa Rica
Selina Santa Teresa North versus South
Santa Teresa South is really nice. It has that modern decor with the nice clean beach look. Upon entering the space at night I got a “mature traveler” vibe. The pool was empty, no one was out hanging in any common spaces. There were only people in the CoWorking space. There is a dedicated room with tons of desk space that is meant for working while abroad. This here isn’t your party hostel although it does have a nice (small) pool area. The rooms here (as well as all other accommodations in Santa Teresa) are really pricey. For example, a private with shared bathroom is like $94/night right now compared to the $50 paid in San José! From the photos, the rooms look really nice at least… You can check out the prices here.
Santa Teresa North did not seem as clean cut as its sister. This Selina seemed a little more nitty gritty. We visited in the daytime and quite a few people were out relaxing in the pool or in the lounge chair and upstairs around what seemed to be the kitchen area. The prices are just as high here as well it seems. A 7-bed dorm is like $30/night right now. Santa Teresa North seemed like a better option for letting loose a little bit and partying. After all, its location is a lot closer to Kika and La Lora – two of the big party places in Santa Teresa.
Selina La Fortuna
This Selina didn’t seem all that cool. Maybe because we only briefly drove by in a rush to check out Arenal Volcano and make it to the beach in Tamarindo all in the same day! Either way, talking to other travelers and Selina San José worker it sounds like the La Fortuna Selina is popular for its tent accommodation. I gotta admit, the photos look really cool! With the price however (like $40 something per night?) it just wasn’t our cup of tea.
Hearing from other travelers Jaco, Costa Rica is like a mini Miami, Florida. It’s a popular travel destination for sure. We skipped right over Jaco in a rush not to miss my flight. Apart from the typical dorms and private rooms the cylinder spheres are offered here! Cylinders are also like $40/night priced similarly to the teepees in La Fortuna. I wouldn’t mind trying out the cylinders. They come with A/C!
Selina Puerto Viejo
We stayed on the Pacific side of Costa Rica being that I didn’t have much time to travel. On the Carribean side lies Puerto Viejo de Talamanca and I’m actually hurt that I didn’t get to experience it! I’ve heard far too many great things about the area such as it being a super laid back place with hippie vibes. But honestly, the beaches on the Pacific side seemed to feel like that anyway! The Selina there does look pretty dope! Maybe even better than Selina Tamarindo! The photos just look amazing. They also offer the teepee accommodations. It also looks to have a really nice sized pool with a great common area.
There are TONSS of other Selinas throughout the Central/South America let alone Costa Rica. The overall impression of staying at and visiting 4 Selinas is that they all have the best vibes. They’re generally clean. There are always tons of things to do there and suggestions of cool places to go (you can even book it through Selina at a good or comparable price to booking elsewhere). Probaly the most important feature of the Selinas is that they are always in the BEST location whether it is the city center or minutes walk from the beach. You honestly can’t go wrong staying at Selina (of course unless you find a cheaper accomodation nearby which is what we did in Santa Teresa at Hostel VidaMar – ya always gotta watch out for your wallet!)