San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

A jungle castle in Pavones, Costa Rica

High on a hill, overlooking the small houses and surfer hostels of Pavones, sits a four-story stone castle. Though lacking the turrets and cannons of a true medieval palace, the newly renovated four-room Castillo de Pavones hotel features the lavish and distinct accommodations to make anyone feel like royalty.

“We offer first-rate accommodations right on the edge of civilization,” said Hotel Manager Shawn Wells. “Out here, the jungle comes right to the front door.”

Up a steep dirt road even more remote then the already isolated town, the hotel is encircled by jungle. Towering over the nearby trees, the structure is built with sturdy flagstone walls held together with white concrete and a pointed rooftop that sits over three ground-to-ceiling columns.

Upon arrival, our first stop was the third-floor dining and reception area. The room’s vaulted ceilings and wrought iron light fixtures made me feel like I had just stepped into the great hall at Hogwarts, but instead of Dumbledore greeting me at the front desk, there was a nice teenager who presented us with our key, flashlight and a small satin bag with our TV and air-conditioning remotes.


The castle-style dining room at Castillo de Pavones boasts a killer ocean view.

Lindsay Fendt

We stayed on the main floor in “The Jungle,” aptly named considering its jungle-themed bathroom with a black river-stone shower wall and a limestone sink with a waterfall-style faucet. Up on a pedestal to the side perched a raised soaking tub for two.

The rest of the room was a style unlike anything I had ever seen in Costa Rica. An oversized leather couch sat across from a boxy suitcase that serves as a table for a sizeable television, and an old-fashioned hall tree clock hung from an iron hook near the bed. It felt a little bit like a old-timey European psychiatrist’s office, but more comfortable and with a view of the jungle.  

Also on the main floor is the castle’s 1,200 square foot Mezzanine suite, which sleeps up to four people between its king bed and bunk. Green, camelback chairs surround an elegant coffee table adorned with peacock feathers and floor-to-ceiling windows provide views of a bordering jungle canyon. Varnished tree branch railings close off the room’s second-story loft.

Continuing up the spiral stairs to the restaurant, and up another flight is the hotel’s event-ready bar. A DJ booth, fully stocked bar and an inviting white couch with at least a 20-person capacity makes it the perfect spot for hosting a party.


At Castillo de Pavones, you shower in the jungle. 

Lindsay Fendt

Though you can still catch a glimpse of the ocean from any of the main-floor rooms, the restaurant or the bar, one more flight of stairs will take you to a crows-nest bar from where you can see for miles. On days with a big swell you can get a look at surfers riding the famous Pavones wave, says Wells.

Also visible from the lookout point is a deep gorge along with the castle’s newest addition, Villa Harmonia which features two two-bedroom suites with kitchens. The villa also serves as an entry point for hotel’s most unique activity, river tubing.

Though Costa Rica is rife with clear rivers, the castle is the only place I have ever heard of anybody tubing. Inner tubes are free for guests to use, and even though the river is public, limited access to its shores makes tubing almost exclusively a Castillo de Pavones activity.

 If visitors manage to pull themselves off the cozy couches in their rooms, or away from the stellar view at the jungle castle, a nice ride down the Rio Claro will lead them right out into the ocean.

“It’s private, it’s exclusive and it’s really is just a great way to relax,” said Wells.

Going there: Castillo de Pavones is a 7-8 hour drive from San José. Take Highway 27 west from San José until you reach the turn off for Highway 34, the coastal highway. Continue until you reach Palmar Norte and take a right at the main intersection to head South. Follow signs to Golfito until you reach Salon El Rodeo where you will make a left turn straight to Pavones. Castillo de Pavones rooms start at $200 a night for up to two people with a $35 per person charge up to four people. The Mezzanine suite is $275 a night for up to four people. Villa Harmonia can be rented as a whole for $400 a night for eight people with a $35 per person charge up to ten people. A two-bedroom suite for four people is $280 a night with a $35 per person charge up to ten people. A one bedroom villa for up to two people is $150 a night and an extra person can be added for $35. 


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