Peeking out from between the parrot-green palms of the dense Costa Rican rainforest is Pacuare Lodge, a remote, back-to-nature eco-stay with plenty of pampering perks. Prepare to disconnect (rooms are electricity-free), surrender to shaman-inspired spa treatments and zip, raft or hike your way to outdoor thrills.
10am; but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, noon.
Double rooms from £393.88 ($544), including tax at 13 per cent.
Rates include all meals and transfers from San José.
You'll find wellies available in your room for days spent traipsing through the jungle.
At the hotel
10 acres of tropical grounds, free WiFi in the lobby. In rooms: candles, flashlights and Kiö bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Nothing says decadent seclusion quite like bounding across a private suspension bridge to the Canopy Honeymoon Suite. Watch as the sun dips below the tree line, light those candles and take a dip in the spring-fed plunge pool on the private terrace. The Jungle View Suites are cosy and charming, but the least isolated.
Jawa Juü, or house of the shaman, spa is inspired by the indigenous Cabecar Indians and their use of healing medicinal jungle plants. Cure aches and pains with an aloe and guanabana body wrap or revitalize with a coconut scrub and banana leaf wrap in the thatched-roof spa bungalow.
A headlamp would be handy for evening excursions, and an eco-friendly water bottle (plastic bottled water is prohibited) to fill with the fresh, natural spring water on tap.
The hotel lobby has free WiFi (connection can be patchy) and outlets for charging electronic devices.
This remote resort is best suited for adults, however intrepid little Smiths can embark on shorter hikes or activities like canyoning – they just need to fit into the harnesses.
Pacuare Lodge is set within a protected parkland and very committed to conserving the natural resources of the surrounding Costa Rican rainforest. Having the lowest impact on the environment is a priority – from the use of natural building materials, to the solar-generated water heating systems and limited use of electricity. The restaurant sources organic, locally grown and raised ingredients, many from the resort’s own organic farm. Water is drawn from a natural spring nearby, eco-friendly bath and cleaning products are used and extensive recycling programs are in place.
Make like a bird and arrange for a candlelit dinner in the Nest, a thatched-roof platform that hangs 60-feet above the ground in a sacred Ceiba tree.
Jungle life is casual – breezy sundresses, shorts and sandals are all the dressing up that’s required.
The fruits, vegetables and herbs served in the restaurant are plucked right from Las Nubes de Tuis, the hotel’s organic farm, which makes for an authentic tropical-farm-to-table experience. Dishes range from traditional rice and bean platters (these staples make an appearance at every meal), fish with fresh vegetables and a heartier rib-eye steak and potatoes.
Cool off with a frosty Imperial beer, specialty cocktail or peruse the impressive winelist. Kick back in the open air lounge that's perched over the lodge with views of the thick mountainside as it tumbles down towards the river.
Breakfast is served 8–10am, lunch 1–2:30pm and dinner 7:30–9pm. The bar is open from 5:30 to 9:30pm.
Located in central Costa Rica, the Pacuare River Lodge is remotely set within 25,000 acres of protected jungle parkland on the banks of the Pacuare River.
San José International Airport (www.fly2sanjose.com) in the capital city is the country’s largest airport and a three-hour drive from the hotel. Guests must arrive in San Jose by 12 noon for a same-day transfer to the lodge (the alternative is to spend one night in San Jose). On the day of departure, guests will reach the airport around 6pm.
Many roads that connect to the hotel are limited access, so it's best to leave the driving to the locals.
A roughly two-hour bus trip from San José arranged with the hotel is the most reliable way to reach the jungle. Once there, you can choose to make the final leg of the journey to the resort via a 30-minute off-road jeep ride through the dense parkland or continue to the river for a 90-minute white-water rafting excursion to the resort.
Worth getting out of bed for
Pacuare Lodge certainly makes the most of the 25,000 verdant acres of primordial rainforest that surround it by offering a range of outdoor activities led by local guides. Rise early to the trills of the black-cheeked woodpecker and the red-throated ant-tanager and explore the grounds with a naturalist on a daybreak activity tour in search of the area’s delicate flora and exotic fauna. Hike the trails traveled by the native Cabecar people and visit with a Zutkia, or medicine man, to learn about the tribe’s ancient customs and rituals. Adrenaline-addicts will be kept busy on canyon tours, horseback rides through the thick jungle, kayak paddles or a more rambunctious white-water rafting ride.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Costa Rica and unpacked their Dota coffee and specialty chocolate, a full account of their rainforest break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside/postcard from Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica…
Thrill-seekers know that the best adventures begin before you’ve even reached your destination. Say, when you hop on board of a private bus and steer through bustling colonial cities, rumble past soaring volcanoes and ribboning farmland before gearing up for a rollicking river-rafting trip to a jungle-shrouded hotel. Indiana Jones himself couldn’t make an entrance much more dramatic than yours will be at the Pacuare lodge, a riverfront retreat set deep in the Costa Rican rainforest.
Of course, all of those daredevil endeavours will be very much rewarded upon arrival at this eco-luxe lodge (starting with a tropical welcome cocktail). Here, you’ll swap electronic chirps and tweets (there is limited electricity and WiFi service) for the warble of tropical birds and the curious call of monkeys swinging in the trees. Shed weighty layers in exchange for shorts and flip-flops, and put that hammock on the private terrace of your thatched-roof suite to very good use. Once settled in, you can arrange for more heart-skipping activities, such as zip-line tours, canyon treks or river-rafting escapades – all capped by some quality time spent in the healing spa, naturally.