Costa Rica is the twelfth country in our round the world trip. This means that we are extremely well acquainted with hotels, hostels and guesthouses. We have had some amazing ones, a lot of mediocre and a few which have brought me close to tears. We appreciate the simple things: cleanliness, genuine + friendly owners, mattresses which don’t sag in the middle and generally we prefer as few visitors as possible (huntsman spiders + cockroaches being our least favourite). And occasionally we appreciate a little luxury, such as in the 1888 hotel in Sydney, which was pure bliss.
Travelling for such a long time, staying in a hotel every night is obviously out of the question on a backpackers budget. We have therefore found an ideal pattern of trying to mix it up- camping in countries where this is safe and possible (Australia, New Zealand, parts of Chile + hopefully the majority of the USA), staying mostly in guesthouses or private rooms & sometimes dorms in hostels in countries where this doesn’t make so much sense, (SE Asia, South + Central America), and then taking short stays in nice hotels every few weeks to refresh and revive. We find this works well for us because we don’t mind the cheaper options if we have somewhere nice to look forward to. Plus, nicer hotels are a great for catching up on emails, laundry and calling home.
When we look for the hotels/ b&bs to break it up, we look for these things –
- Locally/family owned businesses to help contribute to the community where we are staying. We also find they generally have a much nicer feel.
- Eco friendly
- Reviews which detail friendly and helpful owners (unpleasant staff can literally ruin a stay for me- it creates a sour atmosphere which I find hard to shake)
- Reviews detailing comfortable beds + good wifi
I absolutely swear by trip advisor / online reviews as my number 1 planning tool. It has literally never let me down. Whilst good for many things, our lonely planet on a shoe string guide has proved outdated too many times for us to pay much attention to their accommodation section. But nearly all of our hotel/hostel fails have been last minute decisions after turning up somewhere and making bad decisions under the influence of my heavy backpack/hunger. Trip advisor is how I found my three favourite places to stay in South + Central America – The Pink House Eco Hotel in Chile, Sacred Valley B&B in Peru, and most recently, Monteverde Rustic Lodge in Costa Rica. In all of these places we were greeted by the owners who all made us feel extremely at home, fed us fantastic healthy breakfasts and seemed like they genuinely cared about making sure we had the best visit possible. I plan to review the other two over the next few weeks, but today I’m going to write about my stay at Monteverde Rustic Lodge.
As soon as we stepped off our shuttle from La Fortuna, Jose the owner was there to help us with our bags and show us into the reception. A few minutes later, he brought us a fresh plate of wonderful Costa Rican fruit and began to chat to us about our trip (in perfect English). We told him about where we have been and how long we are visiting Costa Rica for, and he told us about Rustic Lodge. He set up the place with his brother ten years ago, with a dream to create somewhere which complimented the beautiful rustic feel of the small town Santa Elena, nestled deep in the cloud forest. Using local and sustainable materials, they built a lodge which does just that – makes you feel as though you’re still with nature, without compromising at all on comfort. And I think they were spot on – it would have felt wrong to stay somewhere modern and clinical after spending the day roaring through the cloud forest on ziplines and searching for monkeys + sloths.
Despite it only being 1.00PM, we were shown to our room immediately – a homely and spacious space with high wood ceilings and doors. Jose also pointed out a sloth in the tree just above us! My hostel/hotel experience in Latin America has taught me never to believe in hot showers or fast wifi until you feel the water on your skin or actually manage to stream a video, but here we had both, and the bathroom was completely spotless. The room also had a lovely big mirror and dressing table space with tree stump chairs, and a space to hang clothes.
We also had a small outdoor seating area outside the room which overlooked a pretty little garden: perfect for our morning yoga. Once we were settled, Jose talked us through the options of what to do in the area and his recommendations. We chose the Hidden Valley nighttime walk for that evening, and Selvatura zip lining canopy tour for the following day. Jose sorted all of these out for us over the phone, as well as recommending and sorting out a local shuttle company to take us to our next destination – Manuel Antonio. All of this took a maximum of fifteen minutes – a huge contrast to our usual experience of traipsing through a town for hours, comparing tours/experiences online and working out the logistics. And we were right to trust Jose on his recommendations – everything we did was amazing and our Monteverde trip was the most serene and seamless yet!
We didn’t even have to make decisions about food because the Tico Soda he recommended, a short walk from the hotel was so delicious and such good value that we ate there both evenings. Breakfast at the lodge on both mornings was delicious, healthy and included in the price of the stay. It was a generous plate of fruit, fresh coffee + orange juice and delicious eggs on wholemeal brown bread. They serve it from 6.45am which is perfect when you have a tour or shuttle to make
The lodge is located a little out of town, which was perfect for us because we wanted somewhere quiet after a few nights in a dorm room. But it’s close enough that you can get there for anything you need in around ten minutes walking. There’s also the Soda + a few small shops minutes away. (A Soda is a place which sells typical Costa Rican food such as Casados – plates of a meat/fish/veg + beans and usually fried plantains, often for much better value than tourist oriented restaurants). Also, both tours we chose collected us from our door as part of the price, which meant everything was even easier.
We really did not want to leave, but we left rejuvenated and full of thanks for Jose and the staff at this lodge for making our stay so wonderful. It’s really incredible what positive vibes this place has, and I would stay here over a five star hotel any day. The only thing this hotel is perhaps missing in comparison to its competitors is a pool, but since Monteverde is much cooler than the rest of Costa Rica, I’m sure I wouldn’t have used it anyway. I was far too busy swinging through the trees.
We would like to thank Jose for discounting our wonderful stay, but reassure our readers that all opinions remain entirely our own. Had we any criticisms of the lodge, we would have voiced them – but we genuinely did not have one! The price per night for a double room is $70 USD. You can visit their website here.