The Dominican Republic offers an incredible variety of settings -- from miles of white sand beaches along the Atlantic and Caribbean, to the highest peaks in the region, and a bustling Colonial City. Exploring it all will require a solid home base, and these three options put you well on that path.
Best Budget Option
In the heart of the country, the mountain resort town of Jarabacoa -- part of an area dubbed the Dominican Alps -- is an escape for nature lovers. The ideal base to explore its peaks, waterfalls, and verdant landscape is Jarabacoa Mountain Hostel. The family-run property is more of a guesthouse than a hostel. It sits on a quiet neighborhood street called Calle de los Pintores (a couple of Dominican painters are its neighbors). There are 12 tastefully decorated private rooms, set across from two olive-colored villas ($28 per person, per night). Each has a queen- or king-size bed, a flat-screen TV with Netflix, a private bath with soaking tubs, and a hot-water rainforest shower. Perks include WiFi, a shared kitchen, living and dining rooms with modern furnishings, bicycles, and laundry facilities. Head one mile west for local restaurants in town, or order delivery using the free house phone. Resident local guide David Duran can take you horseback riding to the nearby Baiguate and Salto Jimenoa Dos waterfalls, or mountain climbing to the mighty Pico Duarte.
Best Mid-Range Option
Located on a quiet end of Playa Dorada, one of the most beautiful beaches on the island’s northern coast, Casa Colonial Beach & Spa is just a 20-minute ride from Gregorio Luperón International Airport in Puerto Plata. Past the high-ceilinged lobby and bar area, the boutique hotel’s intimate grounds are blessed with a tropical garden overlooking a mangrove lagoon -- the perfect shaded walk towards the beach or your room. Every suite comes with a seafront balcony, WiFi, turndown, and 24-hour concierge service (from $249 per night). On site are two restaurants, the Bagua Spa, and a fitness center, and guests have access to the nearby Playa Dorada Golf Course. But the highlight of the property is the rooftop infinity pool area, where four individual Jacuzzi tubs look out onto the ocean and Playa Dorada. For dinner, Lucia’s Mediterranean Dominican fusion menu uses organic ingredients from the owners’ farm. Hop in a 10-minute taxi ride to Puerto Plata city’s sights, local restaurants, and nightlife.
Sitting on a bluff overlooking Cosón Bay and the Atlantic, The Peninsula House is like a celebrity hideaway in a secluded corner of Las Terrenas. The rock star feeling begins with the lack of signage off the main road -- directions are sent post booking -- and the drive up a leafy, steep driveway to a three-story, gingerbread-trimmed Victorian mansion. Other guests arrive unseen -- there’s a helipad on site. Past the light-filled, central Spanish courtyard and up a staircase are six airy junior suites (from $550 per person, per night). Each is exquisitely furnished with a four-poster bed, Brazilian hardwood floors, French doors, soaking tubs, and a private veranda with views of the sea. The house’s antique-furnished parlors, library, and billiards room are filled with the owners’ travel souvenirs from around the world. Walk to the edge of the manicured lawn -- dotted with coconut trees -- and cool off in the infinity saltwater swimming pool, or relax in the adjacent clubhouse with a book. Breakfasts are complimentary and plated on China, while the dinner menu is created daily after consulting with guests for their preferences. For lunch, ride down to the magnificent Playa Cosón and try The Beach, the property’s restaurant, or go east to Restaurant Luis for grilled fish on the beach, Dominican-style.