Kurà hotel in Uvita has the perfect hotel pedigree: a husband-and-wife architect and biologist decided to open their idea of a perfect, sustainable, stylish getaway. The resulting six suites are the stuff of sleek design mags: contemporary, open-plan villas with floating beds, exposed showers and a balcony that leaves little between you and sweeping views over the jungle to the Pacific Ocean.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £668.89 ($845), including tax at 13 per cent.
Rates include à la carte breakfast (including lavish fruit plates, fresh juice, coffee and tea), free daily shuttles to various nearby beaches and a free guided meditation session.
Yoga classes can be arranged at a studio downtown, just ask the team at reception to arrange them.
At the hotel
Spa; gardens; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: balcony with hammock, minibar, coffeemaker.
Our favourite rooms
Each villa is contemporary and open-plan, with teakwood panels, bamboo ceilings, giant floating beds and wide balconies that hold a hammock built for two. Of them, the top-floor Suite Villas are the brightest, with the most dramatic rainforest views.
The pool is one of a kind: a sharply rectangular saltwater infinity pool lined with dark-green Balinese tiles. It offers bird’s-eye ocean views, a trio of semi-submerged sunloungers and calming under-water music. The lounge beside it is an ideal spot for afternoon reading and cocktails.
The open-air spa pavilion has jaw-dropping ocean views, which you can admire from the relaxation lounge. The menu has a relaxing role call of facials, massages, wraps and scrubs using local products; there's a special treatment room for couples' massages and a shower and bath tub for soaking and scrubbing in post-treatment.
Bring a swimsuit for the hydrotherapy tub at the spa, and surfing gear for tackling the perfect curls nearby. No need to bring binoculars for glimpsing passing toucans and monkeys: every room has a pair at the ready.
Each room is equipped with an iPad that is fully loaded with spa options, the day’s menus and information about the property, not to mention music and books for enjoying by the pool.
Leave them at home: Kurà's over-18s only.
As a member of the Cayuga Collection of Sustainable Luxury Hotels and Lodges, Kurà works hard to protect it's surrounding; the hotel uses drip technology to water the lush gardens, relies on solar power, harvests local ingredients for the restaurant, has banned single-use plastic, uses naturally sourced teakwood to built all furnishings, and hires and trains all staff locally. The hotel also runs community development projects and works closely with a non-profit to support a primary school in Uvita, building new classrooms and providing teaching materials and school supplies.
Take a table by the pool for the most panoramic views.
Surfer-chic: you’ll want to wear closed-toed shoes wandering the hills at night, but the restaurant is otherwise casual.
The open-plan Sky Lounge has 360-degree views of Costa Rican jungle and ocean, and is the best place to spot passing humpback whales. The tropical-local menu is packed with with fish, including a daily carpaccio marinated in lemongrass, basil and lime. The tuna tiradito has Japanese influences in the spicy ponzu sauce. Breakfast is the most traditional, and typically includes plantains, eggs, tortillas and local cheese.
Diablitos in the Sky Lounge plays salsa, reggae and other Latin music. The bar specialises in tamarind margaritas, fruit coladas and various flavoured mojitos.
Breakfast is served from 7am until 10am, lunch from noon until 2.30pm, and dinner from 6pm until 9pm; the bar is open from noon until 10pm.
Room service is available while the restaurants are open.
You'll find Kurà near Uvita on the southern coast of Costa Rica, overlooking the Pacific from its rainforest perch 5km from the main road.
Quepos, a 50-minute drive away, offers the most flights – you’ll most likely be catching a connection from San José. Sansa (www.flysansa.com) operates a flight from San José International. Nature Air (www.natureair.com) flies from San José Municipal. Palmar Sur airport, a 40-minute drive away, is closer than Quepos, but is only open seasonally, and offers fewer flights.
Confident drivers can navigate the roads, though a 4x4 is mandatory – the ride to the hotel can be tricky. The scenic drive from San José takes about four hours. Quepos and Palmar Sur airports have rental cars available, and the hotel has secure parking in the village of Utiva, 15 minutes away (there’s a shuttle service to the hotel).
Worth getting out of bed for
Certified divers should head straight for Isla del Cano, an hour from shore, which is one of the world’s best spots for swimming with manta rays, as well as turtles, dolphins and a rainbow of tropical fish. The hotel can arrange a day trip.
On land, rappel down the nearby waterfall, accessible by horse or 4x4. The hotel can also arrange surf lessons, white-water rafting and a boat trip through the Sierpe River’s mangroves.
Ballena Marine National Park, a 25-minute drive down from the hotel, is a sandy, seemingly ideal beach that is excellent for paddle boarding or a swim.
Neighbouring town Ojochal, a 20-minute drive away, has the best options. Citrus (+506 2786 5175) is an upscale restaurant known for its seafood and tropical cocktails. Under a thatched roof, Exotica (+506 2786 5050) advantage of fashions local produce into French-Canadian fare, brightened with tropical fruits. Also in Ojochal, La Piccola Italia (+506 2786 5543) serves pastas and pizzas topped with local ingredients, including fish and avocados, all available to takeaway. An isthmus location with Pacific views on two sides make La Parcella (+506 2787 0016) – on the main road from the hotel to Dominical – the best place in the region for sunset cocktails. Order an ice-cold beer and a pescado entero, a whole fried fish.
Every hotel is visited personally by members of our team and given the Smith seal of approval. As soon as our anonymous reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in the Costa Rican rainforest, a full account of their beach escape will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick postcard from the jungle villas of Kurà…
The infinity pool at Kurà, a honeymoon haven high on a peak in Uvita, lives up to its name: from one angle, the saltwater looks like it blends seamlessly into the Pacific Ocean. From another, it reflects the thick trees of the dense surrounding Costa Rican jungle. And at sunset, it’s a shock of fluorescent pink sky, right at your feet.
Stylistically, the rest of Kurà is equally brilliant. Hip Costa Rican owners Martin and Alejandra used their respective backgrounds in architecture and biology to build a property that is sustainable, stylish and harmonious with the local flora. The six teakwood villas are open-plan cocoons holding a floating bed, exposed shower and hammock-strewn balcony with views past the jungles straight out to a stretch of ocean known as the whale’s tail – both for its split tail-shaped sandbar and its appeal for passing humpbacks. The views seem to go on forever; if only a stay here could, too…