“Quirky self-catering eco-houses set in the jungle near pretty Punta Uva beach”
The 5 houses are completely unique in design, but bound by their shared eco-credentials. The wood used in construction was either fallen trees or from a sustainable source; walls are open wherever possible, to provide natural light and cool breezes; electricity and hot water are solar powered; waste water is recycled. Each has its own kitchen. They are spaced well apart in the forest near the beach.
The Beach Suite
In our minds, the Beach Suite is the coolest, not least because it claims to have the biggest bathroom in Costa Rica! It's ideal for a group of friends (3-6), thanks to its 3 double bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and an extra separate WC, a spacious living room and eating terrace. Hammocks rock in the open wall spaces, there's a swinging basket chair and some of the furniture is simply fashioned from whole tree trunks; it's gorgeous.
The famous bathroom is a real work of art: from the outside it's dome shaped, covered in coloured glass circles; inside there's a space rocket feel to the massive room, enhanced by the giant knobs that control all the taps. There's a double shower in one corner and a huge jacuzzi bath in the middle - bizarre but groovy.
The Beach House
Built entirely from fallen Nispero (loquat) trees that oxen dragged from deep in the rainforest, the Beach House lies 80m from the shoreline, so you can actually lie in bed and watch waves lap the beach. A thatched dome roof, shuttered windows and rattan walls keep it cool and airy inside, and a beautiful wooden staircase spirals up through the centre. This is also a split-level design, with a master bedroom on the top floor and an open-plan living space down below - home to a second double bed, a sitting area and a kitchen. We think it would be great for families (2-5) and there's an additional single bed for kids who don't want to share a double with a sibling.
The organically shaped bathroom is enclosed yet light, thanks to a glass roof, and made entirely from stone, with a walk-in shower and plants throughout.
The Tree House
Built on tall stilts, this back-to-your-childhood house is submerged by the forest, with a sloped wooden walkway leading steeply to its front door. Inside it's split level: upstairs, a double bed and a small ensuite toilet; downstairs, a second double bed, a bunk bed and a kitchen. There's enough room for a family, but it's not toddler-proof and we think it's very romantic and better suited to a couple. All of the furniture is handcarved sustainable wood, windows are open but screened against bugs, while scarlet Birds of Paradise flowers provide splashes of colour. It's not luxurious but it's super quirky, making you feel as if you were 'playing house'. The shared bathroom is back on ground level and this is fabulous: a 100-year-old Banyan tree shelters a toilet in one trunk fold, an outdoor shower in another. A mirror is framed with seashells, towels are folded into different shapes each day and there's an electric light should you need it.
The Garden House
We don't normally recommend this house because it is much simpler, and located next to the road with no glass in the windows, so can be noisy at night (especially in busy periods). But if that does not deter you, it is the cheapest option. Built mostly from bamboo, it sleeps 4 people in 1 kingsize and 1 queensize bedroom, to suit a family or 2 couples. There's a kitchen, cosy lounge, bathroom (with another separate WC and basin upstairs), and an outdoor hot tub. It shares a private gate with the Beach Suite. From the outside it looks like a Wendy House, with vermillion walls and a pointed bamboo roof; inside furniture is built from tree trunks and clad in bright fabrics.
The Crystal House
Formerly the owner's house, it's named after the 5,000 or so glass bottles that have been incorporated into its open-plan walls. We have not seen it yet, but gather that it sleeps up to 5 in two kingsize bedrooms, one with an additional single bed.
All 4 houses are set up for self-catering, with a stove, a fridge, an oven, hot running water (solar powered) and a good range of utensils in each, including a juicer and a coffee maker. All houses have access to a BBQ, too. Bear in mind you'll need to buy all ingredients and supplies (salt and pepper, washing up liquid, bin bags etc). There are 2 small pulperias (grocery stores) a 5-minute walk away and these offer fresh milk, vegetables, Italian deli products and homemade bread, as well as a wide range of dry goods.
You do get a welcome breakfast delivered to your house on the first morning - choose your preferred time between 7-9am - this consists of fruit, warm bread and pastry, cheese, ham, butter and jam. You can request breakfast every day if you wish at an additional cost.
Should you prefer to eat out, there are several good restaurants within walking distance. Duende Feliz is a recommended Italian, whilst Selvin's, Jungle Love and Helena's all offer good quality Costa Rican specialities, including fresh lobster.
It’s a 15-minute drive into Puerto Viejo if you wish to venture further afield. Here you'll find Salsa Brava, which does an excellent grill and the Lodge recommends trying the tuna. Amimodo and Pecora Negra both do good Italian fare, and Sodas is cheap and cheerful, serving a traditional rice and bean dish, cooked in coconut milk with jerk chicken on the side. If you're feeling adventurous, some local restaurants offer 'rundown', a soup made from the kitchen's odds and ends, usually seafood with nampi and cassava or other root vegetables. El Loco Natural is the best place in Puerto Viejo for live music and the food there is said to be good.
Families will probably find the Beach properties best as the Tree House won't suit toddlers(!). The Beach House is better value and can still sleep 4-5, though kids will love the bathroom in the Beach Suite. The beach in front of the property has a shallow pool formed by the coral reefs so it's ideal for kids. There are no cots provided for babies. You are welcome to bring your own travel cot if but it can only be accommodated in the Beach Suite.
Teens (over 12)