“A blissful retreat with a tranquil spa, steeped in its own cloudforest reserve: luxurious, silent and just over an hour north of San José”
Love of the environment has influenced everything about the design of these beautifully comfortable and spacious Suites and Two-Bedroom Villas. They're all similar in design, and all are set on the hillside above the main reception, offering a perfect view of forest and mountain.
Inside, natural materials abound: polished hardwood floors and headboards, and woven bamboo lining the pitched roof. Huge picture windows bring in vast and vivid views of trees, ferns and birds flitting around, so that you feel utterly connected to nature. And nothing in the design conflicts with the beauty outside: colours are neutral creams and dark brown, with splashes of quiet green and a simple rug for colour.
Beds are kingsize and the most comfortable we have ever slept in, with feather pillows (but ring your eco concierge if you’d like something different) and softest Egyptian cotton linen. Those in the Two-Bedroom Villas (Villa Quetzal and Villa Trogon) get an additional ensuite twin bedroom, and a huge dining area. While both the Suites and Villas come with grand living areas that have 2 capacious daybeds (that can act as single beds) to sprawl on and gaze at the view. There's good lighting in the form of lamps on tree trunk bases, and the effect is definitely more sophisticated than rustic.
The bathrooms are particularly stylish - large, with rainhead showers, polished stone walls and floors and twin basins. L’Occitane toiletries complete the feeling of pampering. There’s also a complimentary minibar and a coffee maker (which does tea too). Best of all though, your balcony has 2 leather and hardwood rocking chairs for you to take in the sunset, and a hot tub or Jacuzzi (screened for privacy) - wonderful at night, or just after you wake to watch the sun kissing the trees on the hillside as it rises. There’s satellite TV, WiFi, a safe, bathrobes and a hairdryer too; and phones by the bed.
If the 5-minute walk down to the main area would drench you in heavy rain, just pick up the phone and someone will come to collect you in the electric golf buggy.
Everything you eat at El Silencio has something special about it. Chef Marcela Chaves is on a mission to give Costa Rican ingredients some global recognition and sophistication - such as the peach palm (somewhere between a sweet potato, a macadamia nut and a water chestnut) which filled our ravioli - but also to recreate international dishes with a local twist.
His success lies in presenting a limited menu for each course, which nevertheless lays a dazzling array of flavours and influences before you. He makes the most of the hotel’s organic kitchen garden and locally grown food, and draws on other tropical culinary cultures, with nods in the direction of oriental cuisine. Everything is beautifully presented, making creative use of edible local flowers such as the delicate garnish of nasturtiums on our ravioli of beetroot: orange sitting next to vivid deep red. The result is unique, sophisticated, and visually delightful.
At dinner, we loved the rich, almost piquant broccoli soup, and the El Silencio salad with delicious organic vegetables and a fragrant lime coriander dressing. Los Bajos Chorreada crepes with sautéed vegetables were good, the chicken kebab really superb. Red meat is eschewed in favour of more healthy chicken, vegetables and locally caught fish. The great thing about Marcos’ cooking is that you can eat all 3 courses and not feel over-full. Stay here for a few days and you’ll feel healthy and cleansed - without suffering. An excellent list of Chilean wines is available to buy from; soft drinks and juices are included in the rates.
Breakfast is a treat, with some surprises. We loved the lassi with garam masala, ginger and fresh fruit, and the power shake with fresh fruit and granola. Costa Rican staple gallo pinto burrito is delicious here, as are the multi-grain pancakes with fruit and maple syrup.
The dining area is a long, glass-walled wing of the main reception area, with attractive rattan chairs and woven grass mats on the polished tables. Service is excellent and there’s a little stove to keep you warm on chilly evenings in the 'green' season. It’s wonderful gazing out at forest and the river as you eat; breakfast on the deck, any time of year, is an uplifting way to start the day.
If all this elegant food becomes too much, the staff recommend you try dinner at one of the very informal local eateries in the nearby hamlet of Bajos del Toro.
This isn't really a child-oriented place; there’s no swimming pool, and no TVs. That said, children over 8 with a keen interest in nature are welcomed.
The Two Bedroom Villas are the best option as they have a double and a twin bedroom, as well as 2 single daybeds. Suites are also well set up for families, with 2 single daybeds in addition to the kingsize double (note that only 2 children can be accommodated per Suite).
Babysitting is available is by arrangement.