The tranquil vibe’s a bit subdued; night owls won’t get their fix here
Television and WiFi in the main lodge only
Pack a sweater and some rain gear — the highlands can be surprisingly cool and rainy
Parking on site
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Luxe eco-sleep in a 500-acre cloud forest north of San Jose, with 15 hillside suites and a rainforest spa
Less than two hours north of San Jose, El Silencio Lodge & Spa blends style and service with pampered wellness and soft-adventure experiences. Intentionally remote and secluded, the Lodge invites its guests to disappear into the 15 hillside suites, dine on Costa Rica-fusion dishes prepared with imagination and flare, to hike to cascading water falls or count hummingbirds in the Magic Garden. The charm of El Silencio is its blend of style and service with pampered wellness and soft-adventure experiences.
Bed and Bath
Fifteen identical, totally private one-room cabinas sit hillside on pillars, minimizing their footprint on the jungle below. The rustic exterior belies a luxurious and spacious interior: king-size beds outfitted with 450-thread-count linens and cloud top mattresses; polished-stone bathrooms with twin basins and fluffy robes and sandals; two plush sofas; an electric heater and a well-stocked snack bar. The private porch has unbeatable river or forest views to be admired from the rocking chairs or freshwater-fed stone Jacuzzis. Worth noting: If the hike to and from the cabina gets tiring, a personal eco-concierge is on call to transport you in a golf cart.
In the main lodge, Las Ventanas restaurant (with indoor and outdoor dining areas) dishes up healthy fusion fare. Chef Marcela Chaves takes inspiration from traditional Costa Rican dishes and uses fresh fish bought from the local community, free-range poultry and a fiesta of vegetables, fruits and herbs from the on-site organic garden. Wines (Argentine and Chilean, Spanish and South African) and other alcoholic beverages are also available. Out in the forest, surrounded by bubbling streams and torches and candles, is the destination Esencia Spa. There are three rooms for treatments that include the Costa Rica Mud Miracle rub, as well as body polishes and body wraps. Couples can take Poas Healing Stone and Rainforest Aromatherapy massages side by side in the Conical Room, designed, like everything else here, to channel the forest’s natural energy.
In the Area
It is a scenic drive from El Silencio to Poas National Park, whose centerpiece is the country’s largest active volcano crater; a mile across, it is constantly steaming and bubbling. A 20-minute walk from there is Laguna Botos crater, which is filled with its own pool of turquoise water. And the Dokka coffee plantation is right in the neighborhood, ready for tours. An hour away is Sarapiqui, a more pastoral area in which to get active. Go whitewater rafting on the Sarapiqui River, where professional outfitters take thrill-seekers safely down Class II-IV rapids. For a dose of retail therapy, head to Costa Rica’s main center for crafts and furniture, Sarchi. Known for its brightly painted oxcarts, visitors can watch the cart-makers at work, and shop for everything from salad bowls to jewelry fashioned from beautiful hardwoods.