I recently bought a new Macbook and had problems booting into the recovery partition. After a bit of digging I learned that there are actually two methods for accessing the recovery partition and the one you need to use depends on the computer model.
Since OS X Mountain Lion Apple has been including a bootable recovery partition in case the computer is unable to boot. The recovery partition gives you access to many tools that will enable to troubleshoot and resolve most problems with your computer. You can access the Disk Utility tool to resolve file permission errors or format your hard drive for a OS X clean install. You can open a terminal window to examine and fix system errors, you can use Time Machine to restore your computer or you can of course re-install OS X.
Like I mentioned before there are two ways of getting into the recovery partition. The first is to hold down the Option key during boot and then select the recovery partition. The second one which works on newer models is to hold down the Command + R keys during boot.
We will all have to do it a some point in our lives, so if you notice that you are unable to boot your Mac into the Recovery partition most likely you are holding down the wrong keys. For more info about OS X Recovery visit this page. Hopes this helps.