El Silencio Lodge & Spa
My husband and I went to El Silencio Lodge in Bajos del Toro, Costa Rica, in the rainy season. It rained on and off, but that didn’t put a damper on our stay at all. We loved this lodge, and I give it five hearts and can’t wait to go back. We went as part of a site inspection, so I did not pay for the room, but paid for our food. This hotel is located just an hour and a half from the San Jose airport, so it’s a pretty convenient get-away. Even better, it’s not a very touristy area.
There is a main lodge that houses the dining room, bar, and a comfortable seating area for hanging out. The guest rooms are individual cabins sprinkled throughout the property in a way that offers privacy and beautiful views. Most of the rooms are suites with one king bed and two twin day beds, but there are two 2-bedroom villas available as well. There are 16 rooms, so it’s not a crowded place. Each room has a deck with rocking chairs and an inviting outdoor hot tub. We found our suite to be incredibly comfortable. Both the main room and bathroom were very large. The bathroom had two sinks on a long counter and a great shower with nice bath amenities. The bed and sofas felt downright luxurious. The huge windows really let the outdoors in. The room had WiFi, a Costa-Rican style coffee maker, and a heater, as it gets cool at night. The average temperature here is 70 in the day and 45 at night. We found it to be a refreshing break from the summer heat at home.
El Silencio is located in the Bajos del Toro cloud forest, so you can expect to see lots of green all around and some occasional mist coming off the mountains, making it look magical. The air is moist, especially in rainy season. My skin breathed in a big sigh of relief as it absorbed the moisture from the air. The grounds are not only pretty, but interesting. You can take a guided tour around the property to visit their organic mini-farm, where you can go to the chicken house and feed the chickens that lay the eggs for your breakfast. The chicken house is very clean, and I’ve truly never seen such happy and trusting chickens! (You can see me below, talking in my high-pitched chicken voice.) You can also visit the greenhouse where they grow many of the vegetables and herbs used in your meals, and see the trout farm where the fish comes from. The problem with site inspections is that you don’t have enough time to fully explore a property — I would have loved to do yoga on their beautiful yoga deck, take their special mystic hike, and have a spa treatment with concoctions made from ingredients on the property. I will definitely do those things on my next visit. There are hiking trails, a zip-line, and a waterfall rappelling course on the property, and the lodge can arrange horseback riding, white-water rafting, or just about any adventure tour you can think of. They also offer cooking classes, wine tastings, coffee tastings, romantic private dining experiences, a painting experience, and the opportunity to plant a tree. Honestly, I think I could be very happy spending my next Costa Rican vacation right here with no need to go traipsing around elsewhere.
Now let’s talk about food. I like Costa Rican food. It’s usually very fresh and pretty simple: a nice piece of fish, some rice and beans, and a little chayote squash. My notes from this site inspection say that the food in El Silencio’s Las Ventanas restaurant was “phenomenal.” First, I love the dining room. It is all wood and glass so you feel surrounded by the forest. At night there was a fire in the fireplace, and it was very cozy and romantic. Las Ventanas is a farm-to-table restaurant, featuring as many fresh and organic ingredients as possible, many coming from the property itself. They say the cuisine is based on traditional Costa Rican food “with inspired flair and a savory international twist.” We were surprised to find a good wine list, especially for Costa Rica, where you are often given the choice of either vino tinto or vino blanca. We chose a delicious wine from Argentina, and had wonderfully fresh salads. I had a pasta dish with fresh vegetables, and my husband had trout with grilled veggies followed by beautiful desserts. The dishes were beautifully plated, and service was excellent — our waiter was both fun and professional. We were very impressed. It was one of the most relaxing and delicious meals we’ve had in Costa Rica. Prices were similar to U.S. prices for this quality and service. We got back to our room late, and our hot tub was bubbling and ready to go. It was a perfect end to a perfect day. The next day for breakfast I had the most delicious version of huevos rancheros I’ve ever had. The combination of super-fresh ingredients, beautiful presentation, and that gorgeous view all worked it’s magic on me. They practically had to drag me out of there, because I did not want to leave.