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Hotel El Silencio del Campo 3.0

La Fortuna/Arenal, Costa Rica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Just five minutes north of La Fortuna, and 40 minutes from Arenal national park
  • Private, charming bungalows with lots of wood and local character
  • Hot springs are really hot (some in the area are just warm)
  • Free a la carte breakfast with a handful of choices (no buffet line!)
  • Room amenities include cable TVs, AC, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers
  • Eggs and milk come from the hotel farm, and the fruit from the orchard (guests can visit both)
  • Spa and massage treatments take place in separate pavilion tents in a secluded area
  • Hotel bar will stay open later than most others in the area
  • Free Wi-Fi

Cons

  • The ugly high-rise hotel right next door towers overhead, ruining the illusion of seclusion
  • Helipad nearby; during our visit, helicopters hovered thunderously right over the property twice

Bottom Line

This 20-bungalow mid-range property with the feeling of an adults summer camp offers a convenient home base five minutes from La Fortuna. It packs in privacy and comfort for families and couples, though the ugly high-rise looming overhead ruins any illusion of seclusion. Bungalows are simple wooden cabins that are bigger on the inside than they appear outside, and provide a surprising amount of privacy, thanks to careful placement. Other draws include the extra-hot hot springs and a hotel bar that stays open later than most others nearby. The property offers more personality than the nearby Arenal Volcano Inn, but true hot-springs lovers may prefer the pricier Tabacon up the road.

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Scene

A mellow colony of tree-shaded bungalows that attracts families with young children, frequently returning older couples from the U.S. and Canada, and Costa Rican families and groups on long weekends. 

A collection of angle-roofed bungalows linked by a network of tree-shaded paths illuminated by mushroom-shaped lights, the hotel is frequented by Americans and Canadians, as well as a hefty contingent of Costa Ricans on long weekends. They're mostly families with young children and well-traveled couples, including some regular guests who've been coming here for years. The mellow conversations you'll hear range from kids learning how to speak menu Spanish to old-timers from America catching up with the family that owns and runs the place.

This is one of the better mid-range options in the area, and it's a good fit for guests looking to strike a compromise between modern comforts and rustic local character. Its wood-bedecked bungalows arguably have more charm than the more modern hotel rooms found at Arenal Manoa or Arenal Volcano Inn, but it's not as rustic as Hotel Kokoro Arenal (where critters regularly creep into the rooms through unscreened windows). 

Location

A good location for tourists who want La Fortuna nearby -- but not too nearby -- and who plan on making a day trip or two in the other direction, toward the volcano and dam.

The hotel is well-situated for a home base for tourists who want to hire adventure tours or go shopping in town but don't want to actually have stay in town, with its lack of privacy and quietude. It's also a good jumping off point for a day trip toward the national park in the other direction. It sits off the relatively busy main road that stretches around the north side of the volcano, about five minutes north of La Fortuna. There are farms on both sides of the hotel, but the ample groves of planted trees on the property give some illusion of being in the forest. There's a water park not far away, and an eyesore of a high-rise hotel right next door that towers over parts of the property, ruining that feeling of seclusion in the areas where it is visible. There's a nearby helipad, but staff and regular guests assured us actual chopper flights were rare (though we heard loud helicopter noise on two occasions during our visit).

Rooms

Sturdy, tall-ceilinged bungalows with a surprising amount of privacy despite being bunched up in somewhat close pairs

On the outside, the bungalows don't look especially authentic, with roofs made up of an interesting collision of planes and angles and salmon stucco and wood facades. They could just as easily be SoCal prefab housing as rainforest cottages. They're attractive enough, though, and the interiors are much more impressive. They're adorned with lots of wood, from the high angled ceilings in warm teak to the wall paneling. The decor enhances the natural feel with a palette of browns -- terra cotta tile floors, dark wood furniture, and bedspreads in rust or beige. Units feel spacious and have decent lighting. Bungalows are mostly clustered in pairs, but are angled and positioned in such a way as to maximize privacy. When the clouds are generous, the volcano is clearly visible through the big west-facing windows. Tile bathrooms have big walk-in showers with sliding glass doors, and some Junior Suites come with a dark-paned annex with big jetted hot tubs. Sinks have plenty of counter space and are in the same room as the beds, allowing a guest to brush teeth or use the mirror while a companion is showering. The Family Villas are essentially extra-wide bungalows with three beds (Junior Suites have two queens or a king). Amenities in all rooms include AC, coffeemakers, cable TVs, mini-fridges, and safes. 

Features

Fresh eggs and milk from the guest-accessible farm go to the restaurant, whose scraps go to the compost heap and help grow the herbs and fruits in the nursery in orchard.

The milk from the cows and the eggs from the chickens on the small attached farm go to the restaurant and other nearby hotels. The fruit served here -- plantains, oranges, grapefruit, and passionfruit -- comes from the orchard, and the scraps from the restaurant go to the compost heap. (Guests are free to visit the orchard and farm, and can try their hand at milking cows.) There's even a fenced off reservoir for frogs to lay their eggs, grow, and thrive, and ducks seem to be everywhere -- they, as well as geese and swans, apparently love the pond. In addition, the hot springs (made up of several pools of varying sizes) are genuinely hot -- not the lukewarm bathwater that passes for hot at other springs in the area. (You also don't have to wear those silly wristbands that many other hot-springs resorts require.) There is also a regular outdoor pool with adjacent hot tub. Most hotel bars in Arenal close up at 10 p.m. sharp, but the pool bar's bartender, Jose, bucks the trend and will gladly serve till midnight if there are customers.

The restaurant serves an excellent free a la carte breakfast; guests can choose from four or five items on the menu, and dishes will be served to their table. Many prefer this to the buffet-style offerings found at competing properties.  

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Address

5 km west from the Catholic Church in La Fortuna, Main Street, right hand side, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Province of Alajuela 4417, Costa Rica

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