By Ashley Harrell
August 12, 2014
Courtesy of Tree House Lodge

I’m a boutique hotel kind of girl, so these five choices line up pretty well with my favorite hotels in the country. I just love walking into a stylish place that’s elaborately conceived but also intimate, upscale, and different from anywhere else I’ve been. Although this might sound like a paradox, I expect that a boutique hotel will make me feel as comfortable as if I am at home, while at the same time immersing me in an environment that is entirely exotic. Costa Rica is full of these kinds of hotels, actually, and the ones that stand out are the creations of the unique and meticulous owners who’ve built places where they would love to live (and in some cases did or do).

The hotels I’ve chosen vary widely in location—they’re scattered across Guanacaste, the Osa Peninsula, the Caribbean, the Nicoya Peninsula, and the southern Pacific coast. What they all have in common is that they’re marvels of engineering, design, and hospitality.

Finca Exotica Eco-Lodge

A German architect built this crazy farm at the foot of Corcovado National Park, and staying here feels a little like glamping in a tropical Eden. The open-air, designer cabins are expertly constructed and set in the jungle, some with mountain and ocean views. Communal, gourmet meals originate on the organic farm.

Tree House Lodge

A Dutchman with wild hair and an even wilder vision built the four homes that compose this Caribbean retreat near Playa Chiquita. The unique homes are built around local trees and one room even includes a hanging bridge entrance, giving the place a Swiss family Robinson feel. The bathrooms are especially cool—one even includes a bunch of multi-colored, futuristic-looking skylights.

Oxygen Jungle Villas

All across Costa Rica, other hotels have copied the genius concept of this mountainside hotel in Uvita: cabins whose walls are made completely glass. The Bali-themed property’s 12 cabins are completely translucent but also private, allowing for majestic views of the jungle and the Pacific coastline. In addition, the pool deck and walking paths are replete with Javanese statues. In a word: super-relaxing.

Sueño del Mar

On Playa Langosta just south of Tamarindo, this adorable getaway is a colonial mansion by the sea. The best of the six distinctive rooms—an open-air honeymoon suite on the second level with its own stairway—is within earshot of the lapping ocean. Out back, there’s a refreshing pool and quaint dining area where the staff serves delicious organic meals and the best (homemade) Bloody Marys I’ve ever tasted.

Florblanca Resort

Steps away from some of the best waves in the country in Playa Santa Teresa, this collection of 11 posh villas is tucked away from the crowds and into the jungle, where monkey sightings are common and relaxation is a given. The accommodations were recently remodeled and now feature brighter tones and local artwork. The full-service spa is encircled by waterfall pools.