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“excellent choice with many options”

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Casa Zen Guest House & Yoga Center
Reviewed 4 April 2008

casa zen is one of the few places in mal pais that offers a really solid "middle-ground" in terms of price and atmosphere. the single family ownership have made a point of keeping prices down while also making sure the place is well staffed, clean, and comfortable -- with some style. you're experiencing a labor of love here, run by people who have repatriated to costa rica to stay -- not some real estate developer's detached idea of a boutique hotel.

you could pay 2x + the price elsewhere easily and NOT get 2x the value. there's not much middle ground around in the immediate vicinity-- prices nearby jump to $70/$120 night for private cabinas at nearby itauna and tropico latino during high season, and the budget options nearby are... uh... well, muy rustico. casa zen still offers hostel-style bunks in addition to private rooms (shared bath) and an apartment with private bath + kitchen that can optionally connect to additional bedrooms for larger groups. there's also a communal outdoor (covered) kitchen downstairs for everyone else.

and, then there's the restaurant. the food's excellent, thai dishes for dinner and typical/traditional breakfast and lunches.

its true, due to the surfer/backpacker presence you may encounter some people hanging out at night and they'll be audible if you're turning in early to sleep and get a jump on the surf in the AM, but i just spent a month there, and in fact the staff DID make a point of asking folks to tone it down after 9pm or so on the few occasions it was called for, and a few semi-polite words like "hey dudes, keep it down", or "por favor, amigos" also does the trick. people who stay here aren't rowdy, they're just happy, and its a pretty tranquil place in general.

for me, a major plus at casa zen is that it is centrally located but still away from most of the development in the area. you don't have to walk on the main road to get to the beach (its beachside), there's a fully stocked market a block up and over, and its equidistant from both playa carmen (beginner surf mostly, apart from the outside peaks near the reefs) and santa theresa (excellent and occasionally heavy beachbreak waves for experienced surfers when there's a swell -- and if you want to score it good, just get up EARLY instead of drinking that last shot of tequila the night before... you'll get glassy and quite possibly hollow waves in return, with only a few other people in sight. you want a mid-tide usually, coming up... unless the swell is small, in which case, plan around the low tides... this place yields tubes.... FREQUENTLY... more often right, but also left on a few peaks).

the staff here is excellent, all the way around. it isn't a barcelo, mind you. if you're looking for a turn-down and a chocolate on your pillow, you're in the wrong place. but the people here are all nice and good at what they do. the yoga classes are both solid yet non-intimidating as are the spa treatments & massage.

there's also internet access here (2 newish computers with a printer), and since it isn't shared with 10 other people trying to use it at the same time its pretty fast -- so if you need to check in with the "fake world" on a regular basis, you don't have to hike to some place up the road. its all right here.

if you come here, you're going to make friends, and want to come back.

  • Stayed: March 2008, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Thank fxct
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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152 - 156 of 200 reviews

Reviewed 9 February 2008

i almost don't want to write this. insofar as you know -- when you find a good thing, you don't want to see it get over-publicized, but...

places like this -- in areas like this -- are harder and harder to come by. and the more they get written up and acknowledged, the harder it is to get a reservation and the more likely it is things will change, faster.

but kelly and the staff here deserve to be recognized.

this is a little bit of the old costa rica backpacker vibe, but grown up and packaged up in a location and setup that can accommodate both random walk-ins on the cheap, and honeymooners looking for something authentic but comfortable. its a tough combination to find, and thankfully kelly and her family+staff have maintained the place and its aesthetic while rolling with the changes of a growing destination.

the food is good. the staff is good. the vibe is good. its ALL good. come for a day -- stay for a month. people have. i'm about to go back for my fifth visit to the area and there was no question about where we were going to stay.

you're away from the major development of mal pais/sta theresa here, but close enough to the market/internet cafes etc to stay stocked and connected without listening to traffic and breathing atv fumes all day, and having to hike more than a few blocks to stock up or check mail.

its freaking perfect, or as close as you're gonna get, here, today, given what is happening in (and to) the area. the surf remains stellar and if you can situate yourself in a good place like this with the right attitude and some time to appreciate it, you're not gonna want to leave.

Stayed: June 2007
Thank _benjamin01101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 December 2007

Stayed here for the last 3 nights of our 11 days Costa Rican vacation. We were staying at the MalPais Surf Camp but were looking to move to a nicer hotel and better location for the last few days.
Kelly, the owner is very down to earth and available for questions. We hadn't planned to stay here but stopped by for lunch one day and decided to just see how much the rooms were. Only $30 for a 2nd floor room with a double and single bed, ceiling fan and safe. We said yes! Of note:

Movie night each Sunday
Need to have or buy your own lock for the safe
On-site laundry service
6+ hammocks to lounge on
Yoga twice a day on the open air 2nd floor (I didn't participate but it looked good and was packed with people)
I'm pretty sure they had surf board rentals there but not 100%
Location is right across the street for the largest super market in Santa Teresa/ MalPais area.
Cash only
No pool
Shared baths - but they are nicer than most I'd seen, clean and private.
They did not provide bath towels.
On-site spa - offering deep-tissue massage and reflexology. $40 for an hour, and $25 for 1/2 hour. I did the hour deep-tissue and loved it - especially for the price.

NOTE: it can be very noisy, as the walls are thin and our room had a partial open ceiling that appeared to connect to about 4 other rooms - you could easily hear what's going on in the other rooms. At night people party and they are LOUD. This happened 2 of 3 nights we were there and no staff made the people quiet down.

They are not right on the beach but very close.

Overall, I'd go back because for the price of $30 a night it was worth it, even without warm water.

Stayed: November 2007
1  Thank ZingerSF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 June 2017 via mobile
Google Translation

Stayed: June 2017, travelled as a couple
Thank Klou K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 April 2017
Google Translation

  • Stayed: April 2017, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank María Elena M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Casa Zen Guest House & Yoga Center

Address: Casa Zen Beach Acess | 50 mts West from Super Costa, Santa Teresa, Costa Rica
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Puntarenas > Santa Teresa
Beach Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly )
Hotel Style:
Ranked #14 of 62 Speciality Lodging in Santa Teresa
Price Range: RM88 - RM189 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — Casa Zen Guest House & Yoga Center 3*
Number of rooms: 11
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Santa Teresa and Mal Pais are rather remote beach towns, and that is what makes them so special! Thankfully, even though we are a little off the beaten path, there are still quite a few services available to visitors. This is a excellent area to relax practicing of Yoga and Surf.On the first floor, we have six private rooms, ideal for single travelers, couples or pairs of friends. The rooms have either a double bed or two single beds. We also have two larger private rooms on the first floor, each with beds for three people. Scroll down for photos and prices for our private rooms. Upstairs you will find the apartment plus three additional rooms with varying capacities, featuring exterior doors as well as interior doors connecting to the apartment. An abundance of shared bathrooms are also located on the first floor (there are many to choose from and they are always clean!).We also have two well-equipped communal kitchens, including our signature chef’s kitchen, complete with a professional quality stove, microwave, blenders, and a giant stainless steel refrigerator. We offer a amazing Yoga deck with every day class. Our helpful, bilingual staff is always ready to help plan other tours and activities in the area, including surf lessons, canopy tours, stand up paddleboarding (SUP), visits to nearby waterfalls, fishing, sailing, snorkeling, horseback riding, ATV rentals and more. We can also assist you with restaurant recommendations, reservations and travel planning, so your trip can be totally relaxing and worry-free! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Casa Zen Hotel Santa Teresa
Casa Zen Guest House & Yoga Center Costa Rica/Santa Teresa

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