Eco-friendly retreats in Costa Rica

Enjoy the beaches and magnificent Central American rainforests with minimal cost to the environment.


Hotel Belmar, Monteverde Reserve

What's so special?

Tourists come to Costa Rica for three reasons: the great beaches, the magnificent rainforests and the nations's dedication to eco-tourism. Hotel Belmar opened in 1985, and was one of the first eco-friendly hotels in Costa Rica. Here you can enjoy luxury accommodation without harming the local environment.

How they rate it

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"On a clear day, you can see over the cloud forest all the way to the Pacific Ocean from this Swiss-chalet-style hotel," says Sarah Gilbert in The Guardian. The hotel has been committed to environmental and social responsibility for 30 years. It runs reforestation programmes, and has helped to create a biodigester that cleans waste water.

Its eco-friendly nature means it "does not recommend four-wheel-drive tours", but nearby private reserve Curi Cancha "is made for walking". You can "take the trail behind the hotel up Cerro Amigos, the highest point of Monteverde, before a dip in the al fresco hot tub and a dinner of gourmet local produce".

The menu

The restaurant, Celajes, serves up Costa Rican dishes using produce grown at the hotel.

The cost

Doubles cost from £75, including breakfast.Visit, or call 00 1 506 2645 5201.


Kur Design Villas, Marino Ballena National Park

What's so special?

Most accommodation in Costa Rica once consisted of either wooden lodges (like the Belmar, see left), or giant American tourist complexes but Kur has helped to change that. These six cleverly designed open-plan villas, with views of the ocean on the horizon, have brought a real touch of style to the country's tourist accommodation.

How they rate it

"Kur has admirable eco-credentials the pool is salt-water and chemical-free, energy comes from solar panels and rainwater is recycled," says Hazel Lubbock in Cond Nast Traveller. Each villa is "glass-fronted and surrounded by greenery" and equipped with an iPad, loaded with books and music. The communal areas have a "Miami beach-bar vibe", with an open-air lounge, infinity pool (with underwater sound system), large sun loungers "and a rooftop to chill out on". There is also a small spa.

The menu

"The open-plan Sky Lounge has 360-degree views of Costa Rican jungle and ocean, and is the best place to spot passing humpback whales," says fish-packed menu includes a daily carpaccio.

The cost

Prices at the villas start from £482 per night. For more information, visit, or telephone 00 1 506 839 28150.


The best British hotels for a winter break

The Cairngorms National Park "is a real winter wonderland", says James Ellis in The Times. It is home to a quarter of Britain's threatened wildlife species you might spot them on one of the many winter sports activities available, "from dog-sled rides, skiing, spotting the Cairngorm reindeer herd and ice climbing". The Cross at Kingussie, a former tweed mill, "offers the cosiest of places to stay". Several rooms "overlook Gynack Burn, which offers a reassuring lullaby gurgle as it heads towards the River Spey". Doubles from £100, B&B (

Alternatively, you can "mix wellies with watercolours" at Feversham Arms Hotel and Verbena Spa, in the market town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire. Take a walk on the North Yorkshire moors and then relax and view work by local artists in the hotel gallery. Many of the chic rooms have log fires, while "the award-winning spa offers ice facials". Double rooms start from £180, B&B (

Further south, in Gloucestershire, the Lords of the Manor in Upper Slaughter (pictured) is a "superb hotel" with "log fires, cosy public rooms, and a great wine list, as well as spacious and plush bedrooms". You can enjoy it to the full after you've stretched your legs with a walk to Lower Slaughter. It is just "long enough to make you feel virtuous, but short enough to be pleasurable especially if you return by the country lane Google Street Maps claims is the most romantic in Britain". Doubles from £199, B&B (

Ruth Jackson-Kirby

Ruth Jackson-Kirby is a freelance personal finance journalist with 17 years’ experience, writing about everything from savings accounts and credit cards to pensions, property and pet insurance.

Ruth started her career at MoneyWeek after graduating with an MA from the University of St Andrews, and she continues to contribute regular articles to our personal finance section. After leaving MoneyWeek she went on to become deputy editor of Moneywise before becoming a freelance journalist.

Ruth writes regularly for national publications including The Sunday Times, The Times, The Mail on Sunday and Good Housekeeping, among many other titles both online and offline.