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“Beautiful hotel with some downsides”
Review of El Establo

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El Establo
Ranked #10 of 20 Hotels in Monteverde
Reviewed 2 August 2014

My husband and I had mixed feelings about this hotel, as it had its good and bad points. We stayed for three nights and were very happy with the quality of the rooms, which were spacious, comfortable, and offered a balcony with a beautiful view. The grounds were beautiful and there are hiking trails on site.

The downsides -

When we arrived to the hotel around 6PM, we inquired at the front desk about activities we could do that evening or the next day. Instead of providing us with any information, the clerk told us we would need to speak with the concierge the next morning. When we did speak with the concierge, he told us that the 7AM hike in Monteverde was the best of the times offered and the best opportunity to see animals. We also found out there was an 8PM night hike on the grounds we could have done after we arrived. We were disappointed because the only morning we could have done the 7AM Monteverde hike was that day. If we had been given any information when we asked at check-in, we absolutely would have signed up for that hike at that time.

Additionally, when we checked in, we were told that only one of the restaurants on-site was open for dinner that evening. At the time, we were completely unaware that there were a couple of off-site restaurants within walking distance, so we thought that was the only option. The restaurant, which did have beautiful views and good service, was very expensive. I had the gnocchi without the prosciutto for about $28 and it came with approximately 8 small pieces of gnocchi. My husband had coconut shrimp, which came with two pieces of shrimp. They also sell small (think $7) bottles of Yellowtail wine for almost $30. After a $70 dinner, I had to go back to the room and have a Cliff bar. My recommendation would be to avoid Laggus unless you are intending to eat at a fancy, expensive restaurant with a view.

You can't walk around much at the hotel as it is on a mountain. There is one roadway going from top to bottom of the property and even if you tried to walk it, you would be in fear of being hit by one of the shuttles. However, the shuttle service was excellent and made it easy to get from Point A to Point B.

The good -

The front desk staff was very friendly and courteous at all times. There is excellent coffee in the reception area anytime, which you can enjoy while using the WiFi. Through the hotel, we did a guided tour at Monteverde Preserve and a night hike on the hotel property. Both were fantastic. Ronny was our guide for both and he was excellent!! He was personable and thoughtful, passionate about nature, wildlife, and the local area, and went above and beyond to make sure we were having a great time. We even got lucky and saw a Quetzal during our hike at the preserve. Ronny was as excited as we were! He also went out of his way to offer to take great photos for us. Can't say enough about what a great job he did.

We also really enjoyed our room. La Rienda, the other restaurant on site, was great for breakfast! The queso and marmelade were fantastic. There was also a great off-site restaurant, which we later heard was associated with the hotel. It is called Don Luis and is a short walk around the corner. The food, atmosphere, and nightly music were excellent. We ate there two nights in a row and my husband, who is a musician himself, was even invited to sit in and play with the local musicians while we were there. It was a great time with wonderful people.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank K C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 30 July 2014

We had to journey over windy, bumpy roads to get here, but El Establo was a welcome respite. The hotel is on a mountain and the higher room numbers are higher up the mountain. We were in the 800 building so we had fabulous views over the mountains. The rooms were spacious and modern with large windows and a balcony overlooking the mountains. The room even had 2 rocking chairs facing the windows. The bathrooms were sleek and modern with a separate bath and shower. And the pillows were so soft and fluffy I wanted to take them home.

The only negatives are having to take the hotel shuttle up to your rooms and the fact that it's far from town. If you want to go out to dinner, you have to take a taxi both ways. On the bright side, there's a delicious bakery across the street and a supermarket around the corner.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank JAGR32
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 July 2014

8 hotels in 10 days- this was the swishest of them all.This was just such a dream stay, the drive to the hotel was an expedition- we drove to the huge lake with a dam on one side, it is a glorious stretch of water and the boat journey fabulous, it took about 45 minutes but we were just relaxing and enjoying taking in the scenery- sparkling waters, such beautiful tree lines and hills and always the wonderful mountains in the distance- wherever we went in CR there were always mountains or hills in the over yonder. We in fact we did quite a lot of boat rides on this Costa Rican adventure... this one was particularly serene. We disembarked to a bizzare scene- a tiny old looking bus waiting for us on the shore line behind bullrushes and a few cattle grazing by the shore line- there was nobody there but the driver and a small boy who helped the skipper and his mate load up the luggage- there were only 6 of us but the luggage had to be squished somehow into the back of this bus along the back seats and was pushed in through the small bus windows.It felt like the middle of nowhere- great.The journey was extremely bumpy with lots of farmed land around, horses, cattle, the landscape really looked like Yorkshire dales in most parts, not the tropics at all.But the toucan helped remind us of where we were! Beautiful rivulets, the road was exceptionally steep and there was a greta deal of dust thrown about, bad road, no other traffic for miles and miles- couldn't understand why the heck there was no tarmac road- until I later learned that the locals would prefer to keep their beautiful countryside unspoilt- tarmac road = great coach loads- clever eh ! The views are breathtakinglating, the valleys, the forestation, as we climbed up we came to several wind farms- completely still...beautiful blue flowering bushes like hydrangeas, soaring kites,hereford type cows grazing, large green wooden barns.Then we neared a settlement and several houses- I noticed that not one had grilles at the windows or doors as in some places in CR. Comfort break was also a sleepy affair- very rural with a duck and cat who sat together at the entrance. It all looked like a hacienda,they sold delicious fruit juices.I bet its is tarpitch black at night time here.Very quiet,very relaxing.The skies looked just like a perfect English summer's day azure blue with fluffy clouds. Very very unspoilt countryside The tropical feel came about when we came across pineapples and bananas or a flight of exotically coloured butterflies wafting along the side of the dusty bus.It looked extremely dry in places.We were told that there were several snake species in the area.
The 3 hour drive brought us to Santa Elena which is the town and Monte Verde is the reserve.
It started to get more built up- lots of soda shops on the way- places where locals go for refreshments- juices, pool table,a place to meet. It then started to look like a hippie commune- Santa Elena has a LOT of cheaper dorm accomodation and it was a sight just to people watch the backpackers!The town has a buzzy feel- music events, bars, culture clubs and a sort of student feel to it, there is a lot to do there. We climbed up away from the centre and came to this hotel- it is built directly on a hillside so the various accomodations which look like chalets in Austria or one of those health spa places in southern Poland or the ski place at Zakopane. Well you are 1,200 metres above sea level here.We drove up and up and our room was in a block of two up in front of a mini lake with the most magnificent views across. It also reminded me of the Lake District in England as the stone work was slate grey. I think we had the best location as the vistas were simply awesome,if you cared to walk down to the restaurant I think your calves would remind you of it for the next two days !!- best to take one of the shuttles- simply ring for one and they quickly arrive.The corridoor floor was also grey- and uneven which added appeal to us-but maybe not if you were in a wheelchair.
When we opened the door to the room we were absolutely delighted- rooms seem long, they are very spacious and the decor is divine- wooden ceilings and cream walls, it is very tastefully decorated and bright and clean and new looking. We were VERY happy with the room. Again two beds which are like doubles each in size, carpetted flooring as you enter and floorboards next to the patio doors, two wooden/wicker rocking chairs facing the patio doors- for the endless relaxing views outside- fabulous. The bedding includes the most comfortable pillows for suport and douves and wonderfully clean pressed sheets and covers. Everything looks cated for. The bathroom was fantastic- large with a very large shower, humungous bath which you could really stretch out in, gorgeous soaps and creams, the towelling was also high quality. No wardrobe as such, there were hangers and a l-o-n-g wooden shelf running along the wall, ample mirrors- large, really lovely accomodation the best I think of the 8 hotels we stayed in. Top Marks El Establo!
You will notice that you will hear the wind here, there are glass windows with only a small mesh louvre which you can shut- remember it will get a lot cooler here at night time- hence the douves which were like clouds they were so fluffed and lovely to the skin. The views reminded me of being on safari in Kenya- you can see so very, very far away...fabulous. Then there are the swifts gliding by and shrilling and koatamundis sniffimng about in the grounds- first time I'd ever seen one- sweet or what?- When we eventually arrived at hotel no 8 where we stayed for over a week to rest we'd feed one great chap who kept coming to our room, with honey- licking its paws is such a delight.
This hotel was really superb, our stay here very memorable.Quakers-who were conscientious objectors decided to move out of America to be able to live their lives without conscription and wars, chose to settle here originally because there are no armies and at that trime the land was very inexpensive, they raised cattle and made a good life for themselves here.Business acumen and success led to expanding and building a tourist spot hotel for other folk to be able to also enjoy this wonderful part of the world.There is a description of this in the reception area which is half way down the hill. Here you can have machine cofee and the most delicious banana cakes- I had to try them all ! There is apparantly good internet access here-if that's what you want to do on holiday...(i really querie when folk write about bad Wi fi on holiday- who wants to look at a computer when you are away?- well obviously some folk do- so they'd be very happy with that here also).
The restaurant is also wow- especially at lunch time when they serve ala carte- the best tenderloin beef in strawberry and another in pesto sauce I have ever tasted... really well prepared vegetables- all those little details that make all the difference- julliened carrots,marrows and beans done just perfect, no over cooking - even mashed potatoes that are the best ! a wonderful breaded shrimp with sesame dip, crisp salads of every type wonderfully presented with the most delic' dressings, mouthwatering desserts, perfect coffees-you can sit on a white clothed table to the side and it is very relaxing, great wine choice also. Breakfast was a lot busier - buffet style but wow what a choice ...similarly the evening buffet is extensive and very very tasty.
In fact there is absolutely nothing I can say against this hotel whatsoever. Highly highly recommendable, one of the best hotels we have ever stayed in- and just to sit on your balcony looking out across the views....( the room was designed so that no one overlooks you- just like safarI lodges) and watch the sun go down is something else- the colours and the serenity is breathtaking. Thank you El Establo.

Room Tip: trry to get the block directly overlooking the lake
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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1  Thank Rebecca M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 July 2014

We stayed here for (2) nights in May. There is no A/C here but the temperature was cool enough that it didn't pose a problem. We had to use our room key to turn the electricity on which was a new experience for me. One evening upon returning, it wouldn't work. Thankfully, we brought flashlights. Maintenance fixed the problem quickly. The hotel is located on a very steep hill. They have several vans to take you between the floors. The hotel restaurant is located on the first floor and we were on the third floor. Any time we needed to go from floor to floor we had to call for a van. I never even saw the pool area...it was just too inconvenient to get to. The vans would arrive rather quickly but still we didn't like the inconvenience that we couldn't walk about without calling for a van to pick us up.

Room Tip: The hotel had a Coati who had taken up residence at the hotel. I had never seen this animal before...
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  • Stayed: May 2014, travelled with friends
    • Location
    • Rooms
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Thank betts0603
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 July 2014

We stayed here for two nights. Out of all the hotels we stayed at in Costa Rica, this place had the nicest rooms. They were clean, updated, plenty of space. I saw a couple of reviews saying the hotel doesn't have AC, but our room definitely did.
The hotel is built on a mountain and the property is steep, so you need to take their shuttles to get around. The higher up the mountain your room it, the better your view will be, so it's worth it.
The food is good. We had breakfast included, and there is plenty of food to choose from.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Service
Thank Sarah M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 July 2014

After navigating through the worst road I have ever driven we finally arrived at El Establo. It is hard to imagine such a hotel exists on the other end of the spectrum when you are deciding between a pot hole and a jagged rock on the road to Monteverde. When we opened the door of the suite our jaws dropped. It was the largest hotel room we have ever stayed at. Two king beds on two floors with floor to ceiling windows. The view from the balcony was spectacular and I spent most of the time there. Sunsets were amazing even though it rained on most days between 10 and 4. Breakfast each day was a lavish spread although the core items remained the same. We also ate at Laggus the restaurant on top of the mountain. Food was pricey but very good. Staff was always friendly and the tour desk operator made some excellent recommendations. All of us rated this hotel #1 during our CR vacation. Thank you El Establo.

Room Tip: 1) There is a market place within walking distance. 2) There is a bakery and Italian restaurant wit...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
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    • Service
1  Thank searp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 21 July 2014

my husband stayed 2 nights in El Establo as part of a group travel w/ Gate 1 Travels. the hotel was clean, updated, and had breathtaking views from every room. we stayed in mid-July, and the hotel has no AC. but it was really so cool outside, that we were able to just sleep w/ the window cracked (screens were in place to protect us from the critters outside). the bar by our room (i think there are 2 or 3 bars on the site) had fabulous views, a pool table, and good happy hour specials. they did state they would be open until 10pm nightly, but our 2nd night, they had closed before 9:30...nothing major to detract from this place though. they also have their own ziplining and night walk activities on site; we werent able to check them out, but would be very convenient! would definitely recommend El Establo for the monteverde area

Room Tip: we were on the ground floor, so we were able to walk right out onto beautiful grassy areas. however...
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  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank deeds947
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about El Establo

Address: Diagonal to Escuela Rafael Arguedas | N 10° 18.7836 / W 84° 48.9587, 60109, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Monteverde
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 20 Hotels in Monteverde
Price Range: £81 - £194 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3.5 star — El Establo 3.5*
Number of rooms: 155
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Nestled in the misty cloud forest of Monteverde, El Establo offers the best quality services that will make your trip an unforgettable experience: The area`s best view, heated indoor pools, spa, restaurants, café-bars, special events center, internet access, souvenirs shop, tennis court, basketball court, mini soccer court, hiking trails, canopy tour and the most charming staff. This half Costarican – half Quaker, family owned hotel, will allow you to share the best of both cultures. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
El Establo Hotel Monteverde
El Establo Monteverde

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