Review: Hotel Casa Chameleon at Mal Pais

Hotel Casa Chameleon at Mal Pais is an adults only hotel located in Mal Pais/Santa Teresa, Costa Rica. There are about 10 free standing villas, each with their own plunge pool.  There are 3 types of villas: Standard, Deluxe, and Suite.

We spent 5 nights in a Standard villa in January 2023 and share details about our stay in this post to help you decide if you want to stay here.

1) Location: 15/20

Hotel Casa Chameleon at Mal Pais is approximately a 4 hours drive from Liberia or a 45 minute drive from Tambor Airport, serviced by Sansa Airlines. It is about a 10 minute ATV ride to the beach in Mal Pais, a 25 minute ride to Playa Hermosa, and about 15 minutes to Santa Teresa Beach.

The hotel is located up a hill in the jungle with great views of the sea and sunset. It is very secluded from other things and the closest neighbors are residential homes and vacation rentals. There isn’t anything walkable and so you will need to rent an ATV to explore the area (the hotel can facilitate this).

It is not easy to get to Hotel Casa Chameleon at Mal Pais and you will need a 4X4 vehicle if you are driving yourself as the road to Santa Teresa/Mal Pais is steep, rough, and unpaved in some places. The road to the hotel is also in terrible condition and needs to be fixed; it is not for inexperienced or wary drivers. The drive up and down the hill is also more challenging as a result of numerous large trucks bringing construction materials frequently. As the area near the hotel continues to develop, it will be interesting to see if an investment is made to improve the road.

While the location is stunning and peaceful, in some ways, we preferred our stay at Mint as it was located closer to Santa Teresa and was walkable to things. That being said, we enjoyed our excursions and having the ATV was a necessity.

2) Bed & Sleep Quality: 19/20

The king bed was comfortable, the air conditioning was quiet, there was a powerful ceiling fan (sometimes we turned off the a/c off), and the blinds provided adequate darkness to the room. We did not hear noise from other guests, maintenance equipment from the hotel, or from the road. Overall, we experienced high sleep quality here.

3) Room and room amenities: 17/20

The Standard villa is approximately 721 square feet. Overall, the layout of the room was spacious but we did find a few strange things that made the room awkward. The living area and the sleeping area are open-concept, and the bathroom is separate. The bed faces outwards to the view and the rooms do not have televisions. For us, not having a television in a room is a personal preference but we understand why this might be a negative for some.

The room’s best feature was the outdoor space: we had a large covered balcony with a table and 2 chairs, a comfortable daybed, a hammock, 2 yoga mats, and a small plunge pool accessible from the bathroom and the room. The view was stunning: we had an unobstructed view of the ocean (minus the cell tower) and it was very private due to the jungle landscaping.

The room had a small coffee maker, bottled water was replenished daily in glass bottles, there was a mini fridge, and a small kitchen area with dishes, glasses, and cutlery. The room did not have a closet but had a wardrobe closet. In the living area, there was a small couch that seemed like an afterthought. Overall, the room had a Balinese feel to it and was also minimalist.

Our room seemed to have been renovated a little but some things are looking a little worn and outdated. Some of the power outlets were not working either which wasn’t a big deal but a minor inconvenience.

While our review is based on our stay in a Standard villa, we visited a Deluxe villa. The Deluxe villa rooms have a larger pool, a bathtub, a different room layout, and are located lower on the property (lots of stairs and marginally less of a view). Overall, both room types have pros and cons but we are happy we opted for the Standard villa.

Deluxe Villa Pool

4) Bathroom: 8/10

There were so many things to love about the bathroom: the use of lava rock, bamboo, natural plants, and Balinese-style wood furniture suits the atmosphere. The view from the shower is awe-inducing and made even more pleasant as you can open the glass door for an outdoor shower experience. Despite lots of privacy, some may choose to wear a swimsuit to shower as there are no blinds. Casa Chameleon also has their own brand of high-quality eco-friendly toiletries that we really appreciated.

5) Hotel public areas and amenities: 9/10

For a small 10 room resort, Hotel Casa Chameleon at Mal Pais has some good amenities. There is a shared pool, a restaurant, a bar, and a spa. The landscaping is impeccable and they do a job keeping the common areas clean.

We also enjoyed breakfast at the restaurant, Brasas del Mar daily. We had one dinner there as well and thought it was very enjoyable, as were the happy hour cocktails. We enjoyed all the food and found it to be high quality. It is impressive the hotel can pull off such a good restaurant with so few rooms. As it is so small and they offer so much at a high standard, you always need to make a dinner reservation which is inconvenient when you just want to freestyle and enjoy your vacation. If there isn’t a dinner reservation space that works for you, La Dona Pizzeria in Mal Pais is the closest restaurant about 5 minutes away by ATV: they serve wood-fired pizzas and Italian food in a nice outdoor setting.

6) Service and staff: 9/10

Overall, we were really impressed by the hotel’s service and staff: everyone was very friendly and helpful. The hotel helped us to rent ATVs which was very useful as they were delivered to the hotel and picked up from here, saving us lots of time and hassle. The housekeeping was also excellent. It was also nice to be welcomed to the hotel with a welcome drink after that long drive, and the last few minutes up that steep rough hill: the drink was refreshing and the optional guaro is a must to calm the nerves!

7) Overall Value: 8/10

Accommodations of this standard in the area are not cheap and there is a lot of competition from vacation rentals. Hotel Casa Chamelon Mal Pais is also not part of any rewards programs and so you cannot redeem points. With the global trend of record-high hotel prices around the world, including Hawaii, Hotel Casa Chameleon offers good value due to the large room, patio area, private pool, and daily breakfast. It is hard to overlook the price to value ratio when you consider the condition of the road to get to the hotel and the wear and tear in the rooms/pools though.

Casa Chamelon at Mal Pais would be a good option for honeymooners or even people who have kids and want a quiet and relaxing vacation due to the peaceful setting and privacy.

Another thing to consider about Casa Chameleon Mal Pais is the cost of transportation: hotel transfers from Liberia are understandably pricey and we heard the taxi to and from Tambor is as well. It is also much more expensive to rent a 4X4 vehicle to be able to get up the road to the hotel than it is to rent a standard vehicle.

Would weleavetoday to go back? Maybe but unlikely as there are so many other places we want to visit in Costa Rica, including the Caribbean coast.  


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