El Sol

Arenal & Monteverde, Costa Rica Book from Book from £79 per night

Charming rustic cabins in a spectacular location near Monteverde's cloudforest
Poised on top of steep rolling hills, with wide open views down over forested slopes and valleys from its 2 log cabins, El Sol is a very special place indeed. From the moment owner Elisabeth envelops you in a welcoming hug, you feel at ease here. And you’ll remain held by El Sol’s magic long after your stay. Delightful rustic accommodation is in either a secluded cabin for 2, in a larger, family-sized cabin - both with stunning panoramic views - or in the main villa, every inch of which has been lovingly considered, filled with vivid colour and fresh flowers. Dine in privacy in your cabin on delicious Costa Rican food.

You’ll find quetzals among the rich wildlife in the Monteverde cloudforest reserve, but plan to spend several lazy days in the beautiful setting of El Sol. Horse ride to the waterfall, ride to the hot springs for a relaxing bath, or simply gaze at the view while hummingbirds buzz around you. Swing in one of the many hammocks, take a sauna and swim in the perfectly situated infinity pool. Allow 4 days at least. You won’t want to leave.

Highs

  • Wonderful views from your cabin, totally secluded in glorious countryside
  • Warm and cosy feel with welcoming interiors: every corner has been lovingly considered to make you feel at home here. Elisabeth is an amazing host, connecting people with each other (and themselves!) on a deep level
  • Good base for Monteverde and Santa Elena cloudforest reserves, among many other attractions. But El Sol’s landscape is an attraction in itself
  • Incredibly good value: much cheaper than the touristy centre of Santa Elena
  • The food is fantastic, and the horse riding is often reported to be the highlight of guests’ entire trips

Lows

  • You may want your own vehicle to get to El Sol and to the cloudforest reserves, both 30 minutes away, but most guests use El Sol's car service to avoid driving on local roads
  • No TV. This is more for people who enjoy being cut off from the outside world for a while
  • Single travellers will undoubtedly meet new friends here, but be aware that you'll walk along a dark path to your cabin at night
  • Not ideal for those who are squeamish about bugs
  • Some might find Elisabeth’s full-on hugs a bit much. Just go with it. She’s a very warm and genuine person

Best time to go

Beautiful all year round - and, being cloudforest, cloudy all year round. However, El Sol enjoys its own micro climate, and you’ll often find bright sunshine here when it’s raining in Monteverde. December to April are the best months for bird watching in the reserves, though this is high season and Monteverde gets very busy. The ‘green’ season, from May to September is a good time to visit - bear in mind, 'rainy season' in Costa Rica is very different from rainy season in Asia. During these months you'll usually experience sunny mornings, a downpour at midday, then beautiful plays of clouds and transparent mists in the valley during the afternoon, before a lovely sunset.

Our top tips

El Sol is definitely the part of your trip for total relaxation, so spend at least 4 nights here. With the cloudforest, the Skywalk, swimming and horse riding, you could easily come here for a week and not get bored.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
  • Jungle Lodge
  • 4
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Small Cabin

Rooms

Accommodation at El Sol is normally in one of the self-contained cabins, small or large; but there are also 2 bedrooms in the main villa (that share communal space).

The delightful little small cabin is situated down a short footpath from the villa. It has a kingsize bed, a small kitchen area, and a bathroom (shower and tub) with lots of towels, lots of hot water, and shampoo and conditioner. There’s a porch with superb open views out over the hills, and a wonderfully secluded feel: ideal for couples.

With an even more stunning location, at the end of a longer path leading from the villa, the large cabin is ideal for a family. There’s a double bed in a separate loft bedroom, and 2 single beds in the living area - which could be converted into a second double bed. The great feature of this cabin is the panoramic view over the plains of Guanacaste from the wide balcony, where there are hammocks and a table and chairs for dining outside. There's also a well-equipped kitchen and a bathroom with a bathtub, shower and even a view of the hills!

The villahas 2 separate double rooms, one of which has an extra single room attached - ideal for a family of 3. Each room is very cosy, and provides a small private space within the communal spaces of the villa. Lined with wood and beautifully decorated in Elisabeth’s singular creative rustic style, the main lounge has a wooden corner sofa, abundant cushions and delightful details such as pretty flower arrangements and original paintings. There are 2 bathrooms for guests in the villa to use: neither is ensuite, but both are well equipped. The rooms here are good for a family or a group of friends, who won't mind sharing the communal spaces.

Everything in the cabins and villa is finished to a very high standard, so while the style is rustic, the overall impression is of warmth and homeliness with great creative flair. Love and consideration has gone into every detail.

Features include:

  • Extra beds
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast isn't included, but well worth the cost as it’s more like brunch and will last you all day. Breakfast is brought to your cabin. Expect scrambled eggs, fried sweet apple plantains (grown on site), homemade local cheese, fresh fruit and fruit juice. Rice and beans, pancakes, toast or corn tortillas are also on offer. You'll also find tea, coffee, powdered full milk, cocoa powder and raw sugar waiting in your cabin or villa.

If you've got room afterwards, lunch is served for those who aren't out and about. Expect Mediterranean-style fare with lots of fresh vegetables - perhaps chicken breast, fish, shrimps or Spanish tortilla accompanied by colourful dips and homemade bread, all washed down with fruit juices, beer and wine. Coffee is often served with chocolate truffles and cake or cookies. Best to let Elisabeth know in advance if you'll be around for lunch.

If you have a car and do want to make the journey into Santa Elena, there are of course many restaurants vying for your custom. Elisabeth is always very happy to give her insider recommendations.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating: Large Cabin
Activity:

Activities

Elisabeth and her team always invite you to talk through everything you want to do so that they are able to make it a reality for you.

  • One of the most outstanding wildlife sanctuaries in the neotropics, Monteverde Cloudforest Reserve protects around 60,000 hectares of primary forest, which - at an altitude of 1,400m - is almost constantly draped in cloud. It's open from 7am to 4pm daily - make sure you have cash for the entrance fee as cards aren't accepted
  • This is an ideal habitat for over 400 species of birds, among them the Resplendent Quetzal, and more than 500 species of orchid. Just wandering the 13km of paths in the reserve is a magical experience, but go with a guide and you’ll see many of the extraordinary bird species which otherwise you can only hear. Scheduled guided walks leave at 7.30am, 12 noon, and 1.30pm. For a more in-depth experience, ask for a private guide. The following are recommended: Ricardo Winden (2645 5085), Jorge Quesada (2645 5546), Mervin Leighton (2645 5310) and Samuel Arguedas (2645 6326); contact them directly
  • Less visited but just as interesting, Santa Elena Cloudforest Reserve has 12km of trails to walk, as well as an observation tower, with guides for tours if you want them
  • The Skywalk hanging bridges are well worth a visit. Around 2.5km of trails and suspension bridges at the level of the tree canopy, they allow you to see far more birdlife than from the ground. Our guide Donald was excellent; passionate about finding and explaining interesting species of plants and animals
  • For adrenaline-fuelled fun, try the Sky Trek, and zip along 11 cables suspended above the forest from secure platforms, with stunning views. The best of all such adventures we found in Costa Rica, it's extremely safe and well-run, with well-designed pulleys and proper brakes
  • For more entertainment of a natural kind, visit El Ranario ('the frog pond'), or the Monteverde Butterfly Garden
  • The local Quaker community makes cheese famous throughout Costa Rica, and you can visit the factory
  • Visit a coffee plantation: Don Juan’s is a small family business, with bilingual and knowledgeable guides. See the whole process, and the infrastructure that the coffee industry created - creating the wealth which built the San José theatre. There’s also a tasting at the end, and a free sample to take home
  • There are horse rides of 1-3 hours over different trails, through beautiful landscapes, run exclusively for El Sol guests. The half-day ride to nearby waterfalls is considered a highlight of a stay here. Manuel and Hermes are excellent guides, and their tame horses are ideal for novices
  • Elisabeth's son Javier conducts early morning birding walks around the property; he also operates as a private guide for guests for whatever hikes and activities are requested

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Trekking
  • Wildlife

Kids

Children are very welcome - they will love El Sol and won’t want to go home. The cabins themselves are an adventure, tucked away along little paths with tremendous views. They’re perfectly safe for kids. The swimming pool is a delight, and children will love the horse riding.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Book the Large Cabin or the Whole Villa - each can accommodate a futon (for an extra charge) if you need more beds. There are no cots so if needed please bring your own.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 15 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

This was truly one of the most lovely and surprising places that I have stayed. The cabins on the hillside are so simple and colourful. They are set apart from each other and this made us feel like we were the only people staying there. The views are sensational. The pool and sauna are lovely. When we were there it was a bit cold and windy but a nice break from the heat of the coast and still warm enough to swim. The food was simple and delicious. We had both breakfast and supper brought to our cabin. One night we cooked for ourselves and the kitchen was well equipped. It was lovely talking to Elisabeth. She was a great and inspiring host. Would recommend a 4x4 to get in and out - it is a bit bumpy. I will be going back - hopefully soon.

10/10,

The property and rooms are very well done; great value and lovely location.

10/10,

Incredible views across the cloud mountains of Monteverde from our private cabin with a large deck. This is a very unique place and great fun. Adults and children alike will love it. Very private and an easy car drive to the reserves and hanging gardens.

10/10,

Lovely place close to Santa Elena but away from the touristy stuff. Food is really nice and the large cabin has a good kitchen so you can cook for yourself.
The night tour is well worth doing but you don't need a private guide, a group tour is fine. Guide is essential in other reserves if you want to see the wildlife, without it we would have seen very little.

9/10,

We had such a wonderful time at El Sol - the views from the large cabin where we stayed were unbelievable, and it was so nice just to sit on the balcony and watch the sunset every night. Everyone that works there or with the hotel is lovely, and the food served to the room was really great. Three nights there was perfect for us, and we loved it. If you don't like moths, however, then the large cabin may not be for you as we were inundated!

10/10,

We rented a vehicle for our trip in Costa Rica so we drove to El Sol. We came from La Fortuna and we did not take the regular route through Tilaran, we went the opposite way on the border of Arenal Lake - there's a brand new paved road that shortened are time getting to Santa Elena, we used the app MapsMe.It is a 10 minute drive from El Sol to Santa Elena, not a long time for a taxi trip but we are glad we had our vehicle. We stayed in the Villa with 6 people, it was so beautiful - we are all in our twenties and we had a great, relaxing time at El Sol. Elizabeth is so accommodating and a lovely human being, we thoroughly enjoyed the views of the cloud forest, the soothing rainfalls and the copious amounts of hammocks. We could not rate the food, because we never organized a home-made meal through El Sol, we had a big group and usually went to town for food but we heard breakfast was amazing. The Villa was equipped with everything, we were able to cook meals and feel at home. There were many bugs in the evening, but nothing to get crazy over, we just made sure our room doors were closed and lights were off - you are basically in a forest and bound to get a few bugs, we didn't mind! There is an infinity pool with a gorgeous sauna that you can view the mountains through as well. The pool is natural, almost had a feeling of a very clean pond but we swam in it and enjoyed our surroundings. Elizabeth set us up last minute to take a day trip to Monteverde to view the Hanging Bridges and Canopy Tour - we did this through Selvatura instead of Sky Adventures and we were very happy, the zip-lining was incredible with great views. The Hanging Bridges were told it would take an hour and a half, but we did it in 40 minutes to catch the 1PM shuttle from Monteverde to Santa Elena, provided free by Selvatura. We also did a horse-back ride trek to a private Waterfall that is only available through El Sol, lunch and water was provided and the waterfall has two natural pools you can swim in - the horse back ride was a few hours with very steep and rocky paths, if I could have hiked the whole way, I would have. Overall, we would definitely go back to El Sol, it was so peaceful and so colourful that made the place feel so warm. We were delighted to find such a gem.

10/10,

Loved the horse back riding with Manuel! It was fabulous. The most beautiful pool in Costa Rica.

10/10,

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for those glorious moments spent in your slice of heaven. I was enchanted to meet you and to have been part of that wonderful energy field created at El Sol. I loved everything, the feel, the location, the hosting, it truly is a magical place. The setting is incredible, the infinity pool is achingly beautiful and the remoteness adds to the specialness of the feeling you have. It is enchanting, you feel the place is a creation of love. I cannot recommend it enough.

10/10,

We loved El Sol. It was beautiful and felt like a home away from home. Our log cabin had the most breathtaking view and was rustic but very tastefully decorated and extremely well equipped. Our children loved it too and the swimming pool and sauna were a great addition and perfect to relax at after all the activities. Elisabeth was lovely and very welcoming and we had a fantastic session with her son Javier looking at wildlife in the cloud forest. The food was delicious, our only comment being that it cooled off quite quickly on the way to our cabin. El Sol was a perfect location from which to enjoy all the local activities and Elisabeth was a very helpful host.

10/10,

Loved everything! Elisabeth just made us feel at home! It's a fantastic place with a mystic and peaceful feeling. Restaurants are regular. The landscape breathtaking.

10/10,

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Rates for El Sol