The thermal Rio Perdido, or ‘lost river’, is at the heart of a huge private reserve in which wonderful Rio Perdido Hotel is also located. Amazingly for many years the area had been forgotten by the local communities – the bridge that had previously connected here had collapsed and was not replaced, leaving the region of forest and canyons totally isolated.
Discovering this hidden area, the new Costa Rican owners of the Rio Perdido Hotel were inspired to create a totally sustainable development. Using the existing shape of the terrain and local paths they managed only minimal forest clearing. Most of the wood used in the construction was farmed under license, with much from fallen sources and natural and local materials were used whenever possible. Domesticated and farm animals were removed from the land, previous logging was halted. To complete the project 90% of the staff were recruited from the local community.
Within this unspoiled 600 acre private reserve, the Perdido river has cut a deep mile-long gorge through the forest in to which dozens of volcanic hot springs feed. The scalding hot spring water quickly mixes into the river’s flow, to create an idyllic, babbling stream the temperature of a nice hot bath.
There are dozens of sand and rock pools of varying temperatures, perfect for prolonged bathing and always a selection that you could have totally to yourself. The hotel also supplies volcanic mud from the valley to rub on for a genuine therapeutic experience. Rub it on, leave to dry for a while whilst you sit with your feet being washed by flow of the warm river before washing off in one of the pools. In contrast, at the end of the short canyon, the Rio Negre offers white water tubing.
The Costa Rica locals also declare that the water helps reduce stress and acts as a a general cure-all. Drinking two or three glasses prior to breakfast and complementing this with a good walk, we are told, will help soothe practically any ailment.
At the Rio Perdido Hotel‘s heart is a circular, two-storey restaurant and spa complex.
It is broad and open plan with a soaring bamboo ceiling, and looks over the forest canopy – a perfect vantage point from which we grabbed some great images of the tropical birds and marauding monkeys.
Enjoying these views Rio Perdido Hotel’s open-air restaurant offers a good menu of typical and satisfying Costa Rican dishes like fish and shrimp ceviche or casados – a tradional local dish of perhaps fish or chicken alongside beans, rice, salad, and a vegetable. A generous buffet breakfast breakfast is also taken here. Service is friendly but can be on the slow side – be prepared for your coffee or cocktails to arrive in anything from two to twenty minutes.
Rio Perdido Hotel’s forty private bungalows are built on stilts amongst the local forest. There are two options: The original East Bungalows are smallest, with bright modern styling, vivid colours and outdoor hammocks. They include Wi-Fi, TV and air-conditioning, while the small bathrooms feature floor-to-ceiling sandblasted windows and countertops with inlaid recycled glass bottles.
We selected the newer and beautifully designed Center Bungalows, which offer a completely different experience. Much larger than the East units they are calmer and classier – carefully hand-crafted from materials like raw steel, pure copper and fine hardwoods.
We loved the low level, very discreet lighting which complements the dark colours and the long wall of smoky floor-to-ceiling windows which allow you to truly feel part of the forest. Walls are made of singed wood, treated with an ancient Japanese burning technique and complemented with inert, black concrete panels. All furniture has been specially designed and the floor is made of black volcanic rock. Prejector TV screens roll down from the ceiling so that when unused they are nicely out of sight.
The theme runs through the bathrooms that feature fabulous big copper sinks and taps and top quality local toiletries. The private outdoor showers use pure, thermal mineral water from the hotels own wells.
This is certainly a place where you can take it very easy indeed. We spent plenty of time variously relaxing on the sofas whilst enjoying the view, laying by the pool or luxuriating in the spa.
However we also managed a few of the Rio Perdido Hotel‘s more active options: various levels of mountain bike trails, white-water river nearby for tubing, a zip-line and canyoning.
There are also some lovely hiking trails (beware poor signage), waterfalls to visit, and regular complimentary guided nature walks. This is a great place to enjoy the very best of Costa Rica – active or otherwise!
For more information visit Hotel Rio Perdido
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of Hotel Rio Perdido
See also the reviews of our other Costa Rica recommendations:
The Hotel Grano de Oro, San Jose
El Mangroove Hotel & Spa,Gulf of Papagayo