While Monteverde is technically the last 3.5 kilometers of the road before the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, people often refer to the whole area as ´Monteverde´ while in fact there are 3 separate if somewhat vaguely divided "villages": Monteverde, Cerro Plano and Santa Elena. See photos below of Santa Elena Note that the Santa Elena Cloud Forest is about 8km from Santa Elena village.
The main commercial center is Santa Elena. Admittedly Santa Elena is NOT the prettiest village in the world but if you drive just a few minutes outside Santa Elena you will find yourselves in the countryside, so the center is very small! In Santa Elena you will find banks, supermarkets, a post office, many tourists related businesses and the bus and police stations, plus the main church. A mall was built next to Santa Elena in 2010 which has 30 units are so, and are in the process of being rented. The mall is located in the commerical area and the forests and reserves of Monteverde just a few kms up the road remain untouched.
Cerro Plano is a plateau situated on the road between the Monteverde Cloud Forest and Santa Elena. Cerro Plano is home to the Ecological Farm and Butterfly Garden, and other tourist attractions and restaurants. After Cerro Plano is Monteverde ´proper´ where you will find Stella's Bakery, C. A.S.E.M (the famous womens´ co-op), the cheese factory, the Quaker meeting house and the Friend´s School. The upper end of Monteverde is mostly made up of a few large hotels and private homes. The road stops at the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
There are several backpacker and budget hotels in the Santa Elena area, these tend to be cheaper than hotels nearer the reserve (for hotels in monteverde click here ).