It's not nearly as famous as Amsterdam in this regard, but prostitution is legal in Costa Rica, and it's become quite a big destination for sex tourism. There is one hotel in the capital city of San Jose that is known as the epicenter for this controversial hobby, and finding out details on what to expect and how things work is surprisingly difficult.
Michael Paladin is an expat living in Central America, and for the benefit of his friends and others who are interested, he's investigated the Del Ray Hotel, and he's happy to serve as a tour guide for those who are curious about the place.
Here is Michael's account of a night at the Del Ray Hotel, with details and advice near the end:
The Del Ray Hotel and Casino
Gabriella, she of the overflowing, stretched beyond all safety margins white miracle fabric tube top was sitting across the 'pit' from me. Long, black hair, blue eyes, a petite body with a magnificent set of un-enhanced breasts that threatened to escape every time she laughed.
We'd been visually flirting for about an hour, me at the usual end of the roulette table, she at the 21 table, end seat. I'd probably had one or two too many Flor de Canas, since they kept bringing them free to the players at the wheel. That may explain why I took a 10,000 colon note (the blue $20 one) and folded it into a rocket-shaped paper airplane. You can probably imagine where it landed, close enough that she had to bend over to pick it up. In less time than you could say bingo, she'd cashed in her chips and was on the stool beside me, whispering in my ear...yep, they were real: foam rubber never felt that good.
Do I bring you luck? she sighed, wiggling some more. She moved closer. Now I had to place my chips AND drink with one arm...the other arm was immobilized, encased, embraced and enfolded by the contents of the white tube top. She turned her head to the side, glancing up at me with her dark eyes, glittering make-up and some brand of perfume that created raging fantasies immediately...great, as if I needed more.
What would you like to do tonight? she asked in slightly accented English, her eyebrows raised, as if she couldn't read my mind. She was close enough to whisper that in my ear, which she slightly grazed with her tongue.
I could play with you, she laughed, glancing at my stacks of chips. I'll bet you could, I thought. Damn it...I'm a writer, a researcher, a guide to those who follow in my footsteps, through the twists and turns of....overstretched white tube tops.
Fine - I knocked back the last of the Flor, pushed my stacks forward to the croupier, cashed out and....did research. One would have thought that having been given their freedom from the fabric, those magnificent mounds might have ended up further south. Mean old Mr. Gravity takes his toll sometimes: not much, in her case. I did what I had to do for science, the general fund of knowledge and so forth, just to keep my fellow men abreast of things.
Introducing the Hotel Del Ray
Welcome to one of the last great hotel/casinos on the planet: not a brothel, not a bordello nor a whorehouse but open twenty fours a day, where the most beautiful women on the planet walk through the various doors in shifts, flocks and pairs.
They will stop at the mirror by the cashier's cage to check out their cleavage and make-up (the light is better there) while looking around the lobby, the bar and the casino area for likely targets. Professionals, or part-timers, and dressed to thrill. There is always at least a 10-1 ratio of women to men, if not more.
So, where, you may ask, is this great place? Look no further than the infamous Hotel Del Rey, located in downtown San Jose, Costa Rica on the corner of 1st Ave and 9th St. A seven story pink hotel, topped with the Del Rey logo, a beacon that beckons to all of the love-starved masses that pass that way.
Key Largo bar
The Del Rey boasts of 108 rooms, each with a beautifully hand-carved mahogany door, a decent bath and a bed or two. Across from the main entrance is the Del Mar restaurant and the more intimate Key Largo bar, where there are other ladies of the night and live music. The food is good at the Del Mar and their room service menu uses the same kitchen: post-coital cheeseburgers at midnight washed down with a cold beer from the inroom mini-bar make the evening complete, or if you're still feeling the need, there are more condoms in the mini-fridge. Not free, of course, but what did you expect?
The girls: I knew you were waiting for this. ...prostitution is legal in Costa Rica and they (the sex workers) must have a medical/ID card to even enter the hotel. They are there at all hours of the day and night, although the quality improves later in the evening. There is an ebb and a flow of beautiful women of all body types: a few blondes and mostly brunettes, dressed in tight pants and blouses cut as low as possible. There will be a few Colombianas, also some of the most beautiful women in this part of the world...typically bleached blondes, with artful almost impossible implants that require no imagination as to their contours. Melina, one of the regulars and not a Colombiana, has a chest that defies gravity and chooses her outfits to dispel any questions.
I once asked her, are they real?
She laughed...yes, real expensive.
We still see each other from time to time, across the room: she'll smile and I'll wave.
How things work
So, you may ask, just how do I 'meet someone? As you walk through the main entrance on 9th St, there are chairs, tables and the bar on the left. These areas are sort of the outfield, and you'll find mostly minor leaguers scattered here and there. The card tables and the roulette table are straight ahead, by the cashier and the hotel reservation desk. Behind and above the roulette table is the infamous Blue Marlin Bar, complete with live video/web cam that is continuously streaming on the Hotel Del Ray website, The Blue Marlin bar is 'home plate' and always packed with tables of tica chicas waiting for you and your money.
Scattered about are two or three 'waiting areas' for the ladies to lean against the wall and play catch with the men walking past...these might be considered First, Second, Shortstop and Third...enjoy the nightly parade, the approaches, the match-making, the hastily arranged trips to the special elevator around the corner (the girls present their cards, sign a chit and you are charged five dollars for this particular ride...there will be other, more adult rides upstairs in your room. The prices for the adult rides are $75-$100 for everything and most anything...good for about an hour or so..an overnight stay is extra ($100 - you've taken her out of circulation). They all have condoms and lubrication of some sort in their purses. Keep your valuables in the safe in the room, with only enough cash on hand for impulse buying at the checkout stand.
My advice is to ask for a room on the interior side and higher than the third floor: the street noise, the car alarms and the sirens may tend to disturb one's nocturnal emissions, if not your sleep. There are a few top floor mini-suites well worth the price. Call and check for availability.
There are ATM machines on the first floor, dispensing either dollars or colones.
Go on down while the going is good and the women are waiting: the dollar is firm but their economy is tepid. Two for one? Who knows? Don't bite off more than you can chew. Edgar at the front desk will take care of you: there is an online reservation from and the rooms run from US$80-$120, plus tax. Stay inside or pop across the street to the Key Largo. There is more than enough action and variety to satisfy most of us.
The 'visuals' alone are enough to engage your cerebral cortex or whatever part of your brain that responds to the feminine form. The pants are tight enough to distinguish the denomination of the coins and the blouses are cut low enough to leave nothing to the imagination...the prices? Plan on spending a $100.. it's all negotiable, depending on the time of the day or night, if not the weather. There may be 'rainy day specials' or 'I gotta make the rent'...have fun and enjoy what may well be one of the last great watering holes, where the women are exceptionally pretty, warm and friendly.