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“Probably worthy of 3.5 stars” 4 of 5 stars
Review of El Establo

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El Establo
3.5 of 5 Resort   |   Diagonal to Escuela Rafael Arguedas | N 10° 18.7836 / W 84° 48.9587, 60109, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #5 of 18 Hotels in Monteverde
Chicago, IL
Senior Contributor
36 reviews 36 reviews
14 hotel reviews
Reviews in 16 cities Reviews in 16 cities
21 helpful votes 21 helpful votes
“Probably worthy of 3.5 stars”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 28, 2013

I will admit that we went into our stay at El Establo with slightly different expectations. For whatever reasons, we thought it would be a luxury hotel in the middle of the jungle.

We were slightly wrong.

The hotel is scattered over multiple buildings on a HUGE plot of land. It takes a shuttle or grueling trek up the hill to go from one building to another (ie lobby, pool, etc). I was luckily in the first building, so it did not affect me.

THE BAD:
It was my first experience in a long time staying at a hotel without AC/Heat. During the day, when we were in the room, it was definitely slightly warm and at night it did get a little chilly. While it wasn't that big of a deal during our stay, I can imagine during different times of the year, it might be an issue. What was worse for me was the humidity. The room always had a muggy feeling and because the room is all wood, it was very musty, especially the bathroom.

We had bugs in the room ranging from ants to flying moths and such. Having carpet in a humid room is not a good idea.

Because the bathroom window/vent faces the hallway and because the doors feel paper thin, noise in the hallway is easily heard in the room. Not awful, but annoying

WIFI is only available in some of the public areas.

The worst thing for me was the fact that the front desk closed at 10 PM. This seemed unacceptable to me for a hotel of this size (even small motels in the US are open 24 hrs/day). While supposedly there is someone manning the security gate outside the property, the fact that there is no one readily accessible to call if a need arose (hotel instructions are to contact the security guard, although how to do that is unclear) is a little odd.

THE GOOD:
The included breakfast buffet is pretty good. I did not eat any other meals at the hotel so I cannot comment on the other restaurant.

The main selling point of the hotel for me was the land the hotel is on. Although the concierge was helpful in telling us things to do during our stay in Monteverde, it wasn't until the last full day that they even told us about the hiking trails that are on the hotel grounds. They gave us a trail map (the return part did not seem complete), but this turned out to be one of the best things we did in Monteverde. The trail is as hard as your want to make it, but following the path took us about 2 hrs. There were some spots with amazing views and we did see some wildlife on the trails. I would highly recommend this.

Overall, I had a tough time deciding if this hotel deserved a 3 or 4 star rating. While it is a remote hotel, and while I was definitely looking to dismiss pretty big issues with the hotel including the lack of WiFi, bugs, lack of AC/heat, etc., I think it was very strange not having 24 hr front desk service. In the end, I decided to give 4 stars just because 1) its a different sort of hotel (the overall feel) and 2) the free hiking trail that is on the property was a great experience and saved us money/time from having to go elsewhere.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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900 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (183)
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English first
Los Angeles, California
Top Contributor
63 reviews 63 reviews
19 hotel reviews
Reviews in 23 cities Reviews in 23 cities
44 helpful votes 44 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 27, 2013

Fully contained tort with. 2 pools, large rooms , spa and 2 restaurants
The resort is set on a hillside that is very steep so if that is a concern make sure you request a room in the 100 to 300 series that are at the base and have their own pool
Rooms are large , no ad but even in the hot and humid late afternoons it stays cool due to the great ventilation
The ventilation does mean you can hear everything going on in the hallways so if you have loud neighbors you will here the coming and going
Wonderful variety in the breakfast buffet
Front desk staff and activity/spa coordinators were super friendly and helpful
Great place for a family as there are so many places for kids to run around and have fun in. Safe contains environment

Room Tip: Choose the lower section rooms in the 100 to 300 range if you don't want to wait for shuttles or...
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Florida
Top Contributor
175 reviews 175 reviews
40 hotel reviews
Reviews in 73 cities Reviews in 73 cities
76 helpful votes 76 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 24, 2013

We stayed three nights in room 302 which was more of a lodge style hotel. There were steps in the lobby to get to our room. The hallway floors in this building were designed like old stone. The staff was friendly. We had a two room unit with one bed on the main floor and a bed in the loft area. The room was big and the room was clean. There was a bathtub and shower in the room as well as a safe, dresser and fridge. The beds were comfortable. There is no ac in the room which was fine as it was pretty cool in June. There were windows to open. We could see the Pacific Ocean bay in the distance. There is a shuttle to take you to the restaurant or areas in the resort as the hotel is on a incline. The restaurant food and service was good and their breakfast buffet was fine with eggs, juice, cereal, yogurt, fruit and bread. Sometimes they had a dinner buffet also. There was a bakery, Panaderia Jimenez, across the street and some restaurants you could walk to. We tried Sofia’s once which was walking distance and there was a convenience store that is walking distance. There is walking path on the property that is on natural ground with some inclines. We saw a raccoon, armadillo and a lot of birds on the property. We also heard an owl. It was nice to sit on the balcony and watch the cloud/fog. We did not use the pool.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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Canada
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
22 hotel reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
33 helpful votes 33 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 22, 2013

Nice overall stay at this hotel.

Pros:
-beautiful hillside property. They offered a free shuttle to take you around the hotel.
-views from most rooms
-clean rooms
-nice large bathrooms
-really good breakfast included in the room price

Cons:
-unfriendly check in staff
-noisy cleaning staff and generally speaking poor sound insulation. Source of the noise: The door didn't seem to reach the floor.
-no heating in the rooms and it gets cold at night so if you are sensitive to cold, come prepared.
-would not recommend the ziplines at the hotel- they looked old and unsafe.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Verona, Wisconsin, United States
Contributor
17 reviews 17 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
8 helpful votes 8 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 20, 2013

Honestly, the hill isn't such a huge deal. Just go in expecting that if you're on level 5 or above, you'll likely use the shuttle to get up the hill. It was always available when we called. Great breakfast buffet, even for the picky eater kid. Nice big room, but the main feature is the view of the cloud forest. My kids loved the pool and fitness center on level five. The pool was heated and was half-outdoors, so we had a beautiful view. Nice guys at the front desk and concierge service. They were running a special of fifty dollars off at the spa, so I had a terrific and inexpensive facial.

  • Stayed June 2013, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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denver, colorado
Senior Contributor
39 reviews 39 reviews
28 hotel reviews
Reviews in 28 cities Reviews in 28 cities
40 helpful votes 40 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2013

This hotel is situated on the side of a hill, making for a steep walk or hotel shuttle bus wait if you want to move up to the restaurant at the top or down to the reception at the bottom. The restaurant was not worth the ride uphill since the ribeye steak was tough and not cooked well; I ordered it medium and it came to my table almost raw and when I sent it back, you guessed it, it returned almost burned to a crisp! The waiter tried to appease me with another glass of Cabernet.

My bottom floor hotel room came with the usual items: a bed, a television, coffee maker and refrigerator, but I had to take the coffee maker into the bathroom since the ONLY plug-ins were about 12 inches above the gross carpeted floor or in the bathroom next to the sink...great locations for drying your hair or vacuuming the carpet, but NOT for brewing coffee! Also, the ceiling was covered in beautiful wood paneling, but the floor was carpeted in soiled, out-of-date carpet that needs to be removed! Next time put the wood on the floor and note to hotel--pull the carpet and replace with wood or stone tile! Carpet does not belong in a humid, tropical rain forest anyway!

The reception was efficient, though some were friendly and some were not, but don't expect much help if you have trouble with the room; they don't return calls and will tell you that they are going to take care of your request and then they do not. I checked out the night before since I had an early shuttle to the airport in San Jose. I was assured even after checking twice that there would be a breakfast box for me at the gate when I was to leave--there was no box.

The only high point for this hotel was the Spa which was fabulous, a real gem, but once again a very loooooong walk uphill or a shuttle ride over half-a dozen speed bumps. the therapists were excellent and the facility was terrific, a place where you are going to be pampered. This hotel has two small pools and NO jacuzzi, but you can take a jacuzzi at the spa building for no extra charge and they will fill it for you, light candles and with no time limit--a great place!

My advice: don't "climb every mountain," especially this one!

Room Tip: Choose a top floor to avoid crawly critters on the old, soiled carpet!
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled solo
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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Philadelphia
Top Contributor
90 reviews 90 reviews
12 hotel reviews
Reviews in 57 cities Reviews in 57 cities
50 helpful votes 50 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 17, 2013

The hotel is spread across many acres with the rooms situated up and down the steep hill. Each room has a panoramic vista looking toward the ocean and surrounding hilly area. The rooms are very nice with rockers to enjoy the view from the balcony. The bed was comfortable and the room very clean updated with a modern bathroom.

The lower restaurant on the property, Las Riendas, has a cafeteria-like ambience but the food was very good. The breakfast buffet offers more than anyone could possibly want to eat for breakfast as I find to be the same at any breakfast buffet. There is a panaderia across the street if you just want a continental breakfast. There is also an Italian restaurant, Johnny's, that's around the corner, but we didn't eat there because we were tired every evening from active daytime activities.

The tour guide was very helpful, and he'll try to sell you their tours. But on tripadvisor.com I read about specific tours that I wanted to take and he graciously made arrangements. We did the Selvatura Zip-Lining which got rave reviews on trip advisor.com--we were not disappointed! We did the night walk with the hotel guide who has had 7 years of training as a wildlife biologist--he was fantastic and passionate about nature and Costa Rica. We also made arrangements for a guide to take us through the Monteverde Cloud Forest and he was also great--make sure you have a certified guide!

There is a little zip line on the property and two pools. Both pools have a great view! The upper pool has more amenities and you can take the shuttle up the hill to get there.

WiFi is only available in the common areas. So at night we we walked down to the lobby to use. It also works in part of the lower restaurant and all the pool areas.

While some of the wait staff in the restaurant were very friendly, we didn't get that vibe from the front desk or maids. Upon our arrival the front desk clerk gave our small group her spiel and never cracked a smile once!

I read the other reviews and can understand peoples' concerns about the steep hills, but the shuttle will take you up and down as many times as you want! One has to understand that Costa Rica is a very hilly country and traversing steep hills is not uncommon! Also, the reason for 4 stars is that it is a very noisy hotel. While the stone corridors in the hotel area iare very beautiful, it echoes any little noise. Plus the rockers sound like someone is using heavy equipment--so sound carries in the rooms which is a big negative.

Tips: Since it is a tropical area, expect afternoon rain showers. I recommend a waterproof shirt, which you can get any good sporting goods store, rather than a rain jacket which can be very hot with a t-shirt underneath. Wear a wide-brim, lightweight hat to keep light rain out of your eyes and off your glasses because it can be wet in the cloud forest. Good waterproof hiking shoes are a must because it can bit a bit muddy while hiking. It is very humid in Costa Rica so any supplex or rip-stop fabric will wick away the moisture. Enjoy nature here--it's by far the best I've ever seen next to Alaska!

Room Tip: Ask for a room on a corner away from the main doorway.
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  • Stayed June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
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
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Monteverde
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center 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
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 18 Hotels in Monteverde
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
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
El Establo Costa Rica/Monteverde

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