San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guests first at Monteverde Rustic Lodge

The provincial charm and spotless accommodations are nothing to sneeze at, but guests at Monteverde Rustic Lodge can’t seem to stop talking about José. The hotel owner is mentioned by name on nearly every one of the hotel’s 507 TripAdvisor reviews, and it’s easy to see why.

When José Badilla and his brother Marcelo opened the lodge just outside of Santa Elena in 2005, they decided that customer service, above all, would be the hotel’s priority.

“We know our guests by name here,” said José. “We try to treat every guest like a person, not just a number.”

Sure, the brothers or their staff will book your tour just like any front desk manager at any hotel, but they also will remember what time you return from that tour and surprise you with a fruit plate in your room. They make every effort to remember personal details about their guests from where they live to how much cream they like in their coffee.

Monteverde Rustic Lodge 2


Lindsay Fendt

The attentiveness of the staff doesn’t stop at customer service, and guests, can expect their rooms to be clean to an extent that can hardly be described as rustic.  

“One of the mottos we have here at the hotel is that the toilet should be as clean as the plate you eat off of,” said José.

While the lodge’s immaculateness may seem out of step with the name, the décor does exude a woodsy air, which José refers to as “rustic elegance.”  

The hotel’s 14 rooms are simple, but adorned with personal touches from the hotel owners. Most of the wood furniture is handmade by the brothers with some help from a local artist, making each room unique. The theme continues outside of the lodge with wood-paneled walls and a vibrant garden.

While the hotel has recently started offering massages, the owners have purposely decided against many additional services. Instead, they point visitors to their favorite Monteverde businesses.

“Monteverde already has so many great places to eat and visit. We would rather our guests enjoy these businesses and we can focus on customer service,” said José.

The lodge’s list of suggested locations is extensive and José will happily highlight all of the places on the map willing to give Rustic Lodge patrons a free drink. José’s knowledge of the area will have you visiting some of the lesser-known parts of Monteverde. One such recommendation, El Olivo, would be difficult to find without the tip, but the food certainly did not disappoint, offering a unique tropical twist on Italian classics.

The lodge’s commitment to community development doesn’t stop at business recommendations, and the brothers frequently use their hotel as a way to support schools and sustainability efforts throughout the zone. It’s a commitment that José takes just as seriously as his commitment to customer service.  

“If you do little things for a lot of people it makes a big difference,” said José. “These are small details, but they matter in the end.”

Going there

The Monteverde Rustic Lodge is located one block from the Santa Elena soccer field just outside of town. The rooms cost between $68 and $125 a night. Visit for more information.

Contact Lindsay Fendt at

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