Rates that are reasonable, competitive, or even straight-up dirt-cheap, are the biggest factor for determining a value hotel. But Oyster hotel investigators weighed other aspects, as well: hotel location and proximity to beach, room comfort, on-site amenities, food and drink quality, freebies (or lack thereof), added fees (or lack thereof), and so on. These 19 hotels — from massive all-inclusives to eco-friendly hideaways — are the top value picks in the Dominican Republic.
This 310-room colorful but basic resort is the lowest-priced of the four Princess-brand properties in Punta Cana. This family-friendly offering (with two pools and separate kids’ clubs for different age brackets) is situated next door to the more party-friendly Caribe Club. Both of these properties share certain amenities such as the lobby, nightly entertainment, tennis courts, and unreliable Wi-Fi; it can take a 10-minute walk or tram ride through the mangrove trees to get from one area to the next. Tropical’s rooms tend to be pretty outdated (the larger “Familiar” option is a better bet), but for those looking for a great beach location for a low price, this is the place. Guests have access to three restaurants and seven bars (there is a fee to use the restaurants at Caribe Club) and a nice spa.
Offering 11 eco-friendly bungalows in a lush, friendly setting, Natura Cabanas is a taste of serene, northern coast luxury for a remarkably fair price. Guests enjoy delicious, fresh food, a clean, crowd-less beach, yoga classes, and a fabulous spa. It's quiet, and a bit rustic without TV or AC in rooms, but that's the point.
This 473-room upper-middle-range all-inclusive has a central location on El Cortecito Beach in touristy Bavaro. It manages to squeeze three pools (including one with a swim-up bar) and four restaurants onto a compact property footprint. Most rooms have reasonably modern decor though some are showing wear and have minor maintenance issues. The beautiful beach and competitive all-inclusive rates are the main reasons to stay -- not the mediocre food or evening entertainment. Expect to line up early for a la carte restaurant reservations and to snag loungers.
Located in the safe mini-tourist city of Playa Dorada, this family-friendly upper-middle-range resort has an above-average buffet, 425 clean rooms that are among the most modern you'll find for this category, and one of the best beaches on the north coast. It’s a great value, if you ignore the cheap booze and a pool that's less awe-inspiring than others. The atmosphere tends to be quieter than at many other mega-resorts; partiers may prefer the Iberostar Costa Dorada, though its rooms are more dated.
Two Sirenis properties have merged into one here, with more than 800 rooms. Aquagames, the biggest water park in Punta Cana, has a number of cool vertical slides (adults love them, too), two kids' pools, and sunbathing areas. Guests have unlimited free access to the water park. The resort, which is on a beach, offers clean (if slightly basic) tropical-style rooms with colorful decor accents. Its facilities, including two swim-up bars, a full fitness center, evening entertainment, a disco, casino, and several themed restaurants draw guests from North America, Europe, and Russia. Not all the rooms have been renovated, though, and guests have complained about maintenance problems.
An 877-room all-inclusive, the reasonably priced Occidental draws mostly young families with its massive, lagoon-shaped pool (one of Punta Cana's best), popular beachside activities, lively entertainment, many restaurants, and all-night pizzeria. Rooms are well-decorated, and even include spa robes and slippers.
This family-friendly, 613-room all-inclusive resort has a mostly European clientele. Basic rooms have received a slight refresh (no more patterned bedspreads), and the limited all-inclusive amenities help keep prices low. Three pools, trapeze lessons, and tennis are available, but most guests flock to the beach. For drinks, guests will have to take turns standing in line to get small pours in plastic cups, and repeat the process until the (beautiful) sunset. Food is not a highlight: there’s a limit on a la carte reservations, and the main buffet seems to have a crowd at all times. Overall, though, this is an affordable choice for families. Romantics should consider the VIP upgrade.
With over 700 rooms in this section alone, the Dominican Beach all-inclusive property (the cheapest in the Barcelo lot) is perhaps best suited for a young, party crowd -- think international groups and spring breakers. Food and beverage options are impressive in number -- seven bars, seven a la carte restaurants, and three buffets -- but not impressive in quality. There are three pools and a lovely white-sand beach studded with palm trees, though outside vendors can be a nuisance. Rooms are basic and bright with white linens and nice-sized terraces but there is a fee for Wi-Fi and it can be a challenge to connect.
The 299-room Casa Marina Reef is a mid-range, all-inclusive hotel that while far from luxurious, offers excellent value for the price. Highlights include two nice sandy beaches, appealing oceanfront pools, a huge central pool, free sports rentals, and all-inclusive food and drinks. Rooms are basic and pleasant with tile floors, wall-mounted flat-screen TVs, and small balconies. It’s also one of the few resorts that’s within walking distance of a real Dominican town, giving guests a chance to escape from the all-inclusive bubble. Beachfront massages are available in cabanas and there's an on-site dance club and daily entertainment. On the downside, the restaurants are often overcrowded, most of the food is mediocre, and the rooms are basic with no free Wi-Fi.
This quiet, mid-range hotel in the back of a strip mall on a busy local shopping street is a great value among the overpriced all-inclusive resorts of Punta Cana. Clean rooms have attractive Caribbean decor but few frills (no free bottled water, for example). There is a small, attractive courtyard pool, and both breakfast and Wi-Fi are free. The location near downtown Bavaro is well-suited to those looking to explore local restaurants and shops, but it's a five-minute drive to the beach.
The three-pearl Chalet Tropical Village perfectly matches its sleepy, tropical surroundings. The property consists of handful of wooden villas perched on grassy slopes with hammocks scattered all about, just begging guests to take a nap. The owner’s touch reaches every corner, not just in the quirky eco-lodge design of the five villas -- each of which has its own kitchen -- but also in helping guests choose their activities. Free breakfast and free Wi-Fi are nice perks, but other features are limited. The hotel is rustic and ecological -- there’s no plastic anywhere in sight, few TVs, and air-conditioning is only available in one villa.
A dirt-cheap all-inclusive not far from the beach, whala!bavaro attracts a young, international crowd who’s ready to party. Though the hotel itself isn’t particularly rowdy, guests take advantage of whala!’s all-inclusive alcohol, three pool areas, and fun beach club. whala!’s proximity to downtown Bavaro’s restaurants and bars is another plus, but the hotel seriously lacks on-site entertainment options -- unless of course, one considers watching the masses viscously overtake the buffet a form of entertainment. Rooms are clean, but pretty bare bones, with humdrum decor and few amenities.
With two infinity pools, access to a large beach, a modern spa, round-the-clock dining, and an on-site casino, Be Live Experience Hamaca Garden offers all-inclusive value and a spring break vibe. Technically, this is part of a three-resort complex, with shared amenities. The 355-room property appears to be in a perpetual state of renovation, rooms can be hit or miss, though each comes with a free minibar and private balcony. There's a definite party atmosphere happening at the pools and on the beautiful beach across the street. Many guests tout the dirt cheap, all-inclusive pricing as its biggest selling point, especially considering the low quality of food on offer at five restaurants.
The three-pearl Karibo Punta Cana is a pleasant condo-style option that's right on the grounds of the White Sands Golf Club in the Punta Cana area. There are 66 rooms here, including a mix of traditional hotel rooms and apartments with full kitchens. The look is tropical-modern, with decor that can include marble floors and dark wood furniture, and amenities like flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. While there have been complaints regarding upkeep and maintenance, this mid-range hotel has won over many vacationers with its sparkling 24-hour pool, modern style, and rates that easily beat the competition in Punta Cana.
The two-and-a-half Hotel Villa Las Palmas al Mar has a low-key charm in the eco-friendly town of Las Terrenas, just across the beach from Playa Punta Popy. It’s a small property, with a tiny pool and only 12 simple and spacious villas. They’re carefully furnished and bright, with cozy couches, modern amenities, and thoughtful extras like large outdoor decks and personal grills. With a beach across the street and good restaurants within walking distance, the place is a steal for big groups or families on a budget. It's worth comparing rates with the slightly cheaper Hotel Alisei, which has a nicer spa but a less diverse breakfast.
Opened in 1980, Tropix Hotel was one of Sosua’s first resorts. Not much has changed since then, including the decor and much of the staff. A budget hotel, Tropix is a peaceful, family-friendly alternative to many of the sex tourism driven properties downtown. The 10 guest rooms are tropically inspired but also seriously dated, with cheap, uncomfortable furniture and air conditioners that hardly work. The unplugged nature of the property also means there are no TVs or phones, but there is free Wi-Fi. There's a communal kitchen, and the hotel serves an a la carte breakfast for a fee each morning. Guests are within a short walk of the beach and a grocery store. Travelers would be hard-pressed to find a better hotel for this rock-bottom rate.
At the end of a rough, residential dirt road, the rustic, two-pearl La Loma-Cita sits high atop a hill with panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean and rolling landscape of Las Galeras. Surrounded by local fruit trees and a well-tended garden, the vibe is akin to staying at a rural farmhouse. However, it's still a proper bed-and-breakfast where the French owners are hands-on -- serving home-cooked meals throughout the day and chatting with guests in the common areas. Five rooms and villas incorporate rustic design and modern bathrooms. The owners are clear that they offer no-frills, off-the-beaten-path accommodations, so expect few traditional hotel amenities.
The Casa Naemie is a boutique hotel with a dash of homey elegance, which is surprising for a low-key budget property in Santo Domingo. The location is a major draw here -- the hotel is right in the heart of the colonial zone -- and walks to most major sights take just minutes. Funky design details blending modern and antique motifs plus abundant tropical touches create an infectious charm. The 11 rooms are private and cute, but some are compact and dark. All feature flat-screen TVs, en-suite bathrooms, and powerful air-conditioning. The included breakfast and cozy, intimate feel make this place a good value, despite the lack of parking or elevators. Nearby Casa del Sol has stronger Wi-Fi and a rooftop breakfast, though it'll be pricier.
The down-to-earth, two-pearl Villa Baya Aparta-Hotel in Bayahibe is a fine choice for those looking for a humble, independent getaway near famous dive sites. It’s a simple place, with 17 homey apartments and rooms, many of which include minimally appointed kitchens, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning. The hotel is right in town, and there's several shops, restaurants, and dive outfitters all around, and the local beach is a 10-minute drive from the hotel. Keep in mind that the neighborhood can be noisy with everything from loud music to roosters. While we were able to photograph a restaurant in 2016, but at the time of writing it was temporarily closed, so check ahead.