...the food is terrible.
I can't believe all the reviews raving about how good the food is. I think we must've stayed at a different place or maybe the chef has recently changed?
Anyway, I'll start with the good stuff. The hotel is beautiful and the staff are mostly lovely. We especially liked Oscar, Grelvin and Mauricio. Very well mannered and helpful and Grelvin went to a lot of trouble making us a honeymoon pudding and giving us coffees on the house etc. What a nice chap! On arrival we found we had a bottle of wine in our room, and there were red rose petals on our bed in the shape of a heart, plus flowers around the room. Very nice for a honeymoon treat!
The rabbit who lives on the property, who we nicknamed Celeste, is gorgeous and loves to be stroked!
Rooms are generally nice. Large and clean and beautifully furnished and the balconies overlooking the rainforest are lovely. There is plenty of hot water, and a fridge and coffee maker.
The hotel is in a good location for hiking the Rio Celeste - the entrance for the National Park is a 5 minute drive away or a short walk. This hotel is also driving distance for a day trip to Volcano Arenal which we did and thoroughly enjoyed it. (The drive took about 1.5 hours each way) Also drove to Monteverde for another day trip (drive about 2 hours each way). We also did the Don Juan coffee tour which is just down the road and we thoroughly enjoyed it!
The road leading to the hotel isn't great from the Liberia side especially, but it isn't as bad as other reviewers have made out and you're not on it for long after leaving the main highway. Certainly, we drove on many worse roads while in Costa Rica!! Remember that 80% of the country's roads are unpaved, so if you are planning to drive, a 4x4 is essential even in dry season as the roads are extremely bumpy and you need to ford rivers in some areas (although not to get to this hotel). We drove from San Jose and it took just over 3 hours, no big deal.
There isn't a lot of wildlife around the hotel. During our week's stay we only saw a sloth, an agouti, a stick insect plus loads of frogs, snakes and pretty birds.
The hotel has a wonderful trail leading to a section of the river where you can swim...thoroughly enjoyed this! Saw lots of frogs on the trail and the river was cool and refreshing to swim, and never saw anyone down there, but bring your own towel as each time we got there, the towels provided had been used and were dirty and it's a fair walk back up quite a few steps to fetch one from your room once you're down there.
Now I'll get to the bad stuff. Firstly the food. I am vegetarian but my husband isn't. We both hated the food for different reasons. For me, there was very little choice at lunchtime and nothing in the evening. And I mean nothing. Not even something which could be adapted to suit me. It was all steak or chicken or pork and no vegetables offered. And it's expensive. Expect to pay $25 for a basic main course. And i mean basic. The few times I did try to adapt something it was a disaster. I was just given bread and bread and more bread. The hummus is just a massive bowl of it with yet more BREAD. The same bread they bring you at the start of the meal. My husband didn't enjoy his meals either and each one gave him indigestion. The breakfast was ok if you avoid the eggs, as our fried and scrambled eggs continually had massive chunks of SHELL in them. Really gross and it put us off eating the eggs after it happened twice. One night the chef made me a dish which was supposed to be spaghetti with tomato sauce on...you know, the basic cop out dish they make when they can't think of anything else to make for a vegetarian. Anyway it came. OMG it was more like a noodle soup with boiled to death broccolli. Dear God it wasn't good. I will attach a photo! Not appetising. I asked for it to be taken away. We resorted to driving 1.5 hours each way for a meal at La Fortuna one night! I emailed Oscar and he promised the chef would try to make something else for me, but by then we were nearing the end of our stay and just tried to avoid the restaurant as much as possible. Gabrielle was kind enough to come and speak to me about this, and admitted that they are still learning. Perhaps I will email them some basic recipes the chef can use?
The pillows absolutely reek of mould. Now I know it's the rainforest, but we stayed at other places in Costa Rica in more remote locations that this, and they managed to keep the bedding smelling fresh. Both my husband and myself got sore throats and we're sure it was from having our heads on mouldy pillows for a week.
The shower pressure is very weak and I found it hard to wash my hair properly because of this.
Overall, I would recommend Rio Celeste for a few days (A week was too much) as long as you are aware that the food is very basic. If you have any special dietary requirements at all, email the hotel in advance, preferably with some recipes.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Rio Celeste Hideaway is a boutique, gourmet and ecologically orientated hotel. It provides a world of comfort and style surrounded by an untouched natural paradise. This hidden hotel is located in the middle of the Rainforest adjacent to the Tenorio Volcano National Park where the amazing Rio Celeste lies. Surrounded by lush tropical rainforest, each one of its 26 spacious casitas (bungalows) provides an exclusive retreat in which guests can relax amidst the breathtaking rainforest. ... more less
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