Arenal Observatory Lodge

5 miles past Tabacon, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Province of Alajuela, Costa Rica

1 Review

Arenal Observatory Lodge
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Good For Families
  • Families91
  • Couples88
  • Solo81
  • Business66
  • Relax by a magnificient volcan view


    We visited Arenal Observatory Lodge for two nights in July, 2008. It was a really pleasant stay, the hotel being clean and well-kept, the personnel friendly and the volcano view of course first-rate.

    The hotel is quite isolated, which is nice for while. You can see a lot of nature starting right from your door. There are a few very easy walking paths around.

    The restaurant is OK and there is a good swimming pool & jacuzzi. The swimming pool is nicely framed by the surrounding rainforest. It was fun swimming there during an awful rain storm.

    Since it was the rain season, the mornings were beautiful but it got cloudy and rainy towards the afternoons. The best views to Volcan Arenal and Lake Arenal were early in the morning - we used to wake up at 5AM and go to sleep at 8PM.

    I believe this is the, if not the greatest, at least the most unique hotel I've visited.

    Unique Quality: The hotel is located on a mountain slope adjacent to Volcan Arenal. The view is truly magnificent. We could see eruptions - small sparks of fire from this distance, being chunks of red lava. Also we heard some loud rumbling. I got some excellent photos of the volcano early in the morning (5AM) from our balcony, by using a tripod, a lot of zoom and slow shutter speed.

More about Arenal Observatory Lodge

Fun for Children

by TripAdvisor Member ATL_Mommy

We stayed in a Smithsonian Room with two energetic boys aged 3 and 7 on November 24. Although it was cloudy, we did see some lava flowing that evening and we heard the volcano rumbling and popping during the course of the day. More lava might have been scary for small children. Another option, if you don't stay here, is to drive out on the road leading to the national park at night and watch the lava from a more comfortable distance. The hotel is very basic, not even an alarm clock, and the walls are thin. But the view is stupendous and there's plenty for kids to do ... walking paths, pool and jacuzzi. We found the restaurant staff to be very pleasant and the front desk staff less so. All in all, a good value and worth visiting with small children who like adventure.

Fabulous location, but remember it's a lodge, not a hotel.

by TripAdvisor Member lowfugee

You stay here for the view and location. The view of the volcano is top notch. If you rent a car, be prepared for a bumpy ride on sometimes steep dirt/gravel roads. But once you are here, the setting is worth it. The only downside is that the top of the volcano is sometimes covered by clouds.

The restaurant is pretty good and reasonably priced for dinner. In the morning, the free breakfast buffet is great, especially with the volcano in the background. There is wildlife everywhere.

It is a lodge, so don't expect 4-star quality. But it is clean and in one of the most beautiful natural locations I've ever stayed in.

okay place - could not get into Talbacon as it was full

by A TripAdvisor Member

After staying at the arenal lodge (terrible place), I moved here and stay for a day. Took a nice swim in the swimming pool and great hike along their trails. They have fantastic water fall. The food is decent and restruant people very nice. Nice view. Stayed in smithsonian room.

If you can afford an plan ahead, stay at Talbacon. Had dinner at Talbacon

Very nice

by TripAdvisor Member Gerty41167

Just spent 16 days in Costa Rica with my familly (husband an 2 kids 16 and 9) Had 3 nights at Arenal. We came there after having spent 6 nights at Delphin Amor Eco Lodge in Drake Bay. The 2 could not have been more of a contrast.When we arived at Arenal, the weather was over cast but still warm. Fortuna is a great little town with real character. We stayed at the Arenal Observatory Lodge which is about 30 minutes out of town. We checked in and after the laid back feeling of Drake Bay, it was more commercial, and the people at the check in desk seeme more pushy and interested in getting you to go on trips,however once we settled in I got chatting to them, I realised they were only trying to do a job, they didnt push you into things, just suggested what you may like to go on. They were really very nice and help full and I liked them. I hoped we would see the Volcano but didnt hold much hope as i knew it was often shrouded in cloud. On christmas eve the clouds started to clear. We were staying in one of the junior suites that has 2 huge windows looking out to the volcano. By evening the sky was clear and we were treated to seeing red molten rocks cascading down the sides, it was great.Then on christmas morning our present was the volcano completly clear, what a sight. We couldnt have got a better gift. We went rafting, but it was a bit tame for us,we wanted more rapids. We went to the Baldi hot springs and they were very nice.If you get a ticket at the lodge it is only $16 instead of $25. Arenal Observatory is a nice place to spend a couple of days, the setting is very pictursque, and if you are lucky enough to see the volcano you won,t be sorry.

Amaning Vista

by TripAdvisor Member gmac-111

A trully beatiful Property. The Veiws from the Smithsonian rooms worth The Trip up the unpaved rood to get there. There are wonderful hikes to take with guides or on your own. The ground are wonderful with lotts of wild life and plants. A great spot for watching birds. I would only plan on having the free breakfast as thier dinning room with the best veiws in all of Costa Rica is O.K. at best. I think this is the only place to stay in the Arenal La Fortuna area.

Awesome place!

by TripAdvisor Member j330

My wife and I have traveled quite a bit and found this Lodge to be truly unique. It is located very close to the Arenal Volcano, in the heart of a beautiful jungle. You are literally the only lodge in sight at its prime location.

We stayed in the Junior Suites, which have stunning views of the volcano. The other rooms looked nice as well. The grounds are beautiful. The birds are amazing. The nearby hike to a waterfall is more beautiful than anything we saw on a trip to world-renoun Maui. We even saw the volcano spit flaming lava rocks on our second night. So much more could be said!

The only "down-side" to this lodge is its location (although this is part of its attractiveness). Unless you plan to rent a car or not leave the grounds, this is not the location for you. It is a 25 minute drive to town.

can't beat the view

by TripAdvisor Member rossrosen

It was a looooong and treacherous drive from San Jose with my husband and two young kids, so I was really praying that this place would be worth it when we finally got to the top of that unpaved road... Thankfully, the views are everything I'd read and more. Our room (#31) was comfortable and spacious with a deck on either side - one with a perfect, unobstructed view of the volcano! The first night, I looked up from my bed after hearing it rumbling and watch the red lava flow down the side of the volcano... from my bed. The panoramic views are not to be missed, particularly since they include the hummingbirds, tropical fruit trees, flowers, butterflies and various other wildlife.

The hanging bridge was a treat for my 3 year old son, who really considered it an adventure to make his way over to the pool. And what a treat to wake up and have breakfast and great coffee (included) with that same spectacular view. Staff was friendly and helpful.

P.S. Didn't see mosquitos and no one got sick from water or ice or fruit...

beware the route

by A TripAdvisor Member

This may be a somewhat odd review seeing that we in fact did not stay at the lodge but did drive to it just for the experience. We can only comment that it is quite a ways off the main (paved) road and only accessible by a very bumpy, and at the time we travelled it, muddy roadway (we had a good 4-wheel drive too). If you are planning on staying at this hotel and want to eat lunch or dinner elsewhere in the La Fortuna area, this road would definitely be a big negative for staying at this hotel.

Great for one night

by TripAdvisor Member mclapham

Don't go here expecting a 3* type of accomodation. The rooms are very very basic. But the views are spectacular. The beds in some rooms actually face the window, so you can literally lie in bed, and gaze at the volcano. Can't get a better view. The grounds are pretty vast: nice birds, flora. Hike to waterfall: you may see monkeys (waterfall itself isn't that great). But you're totally in nature, which is nice. Food isn't great. Management was helpful. Morning hike (free) was fun.

Be warned you may wake up in the morning, and not be able to tell that there is any mountain there! On two days, we saw NOTHING (forget the top). The one day that it was visible: we saw a drop of lava at night (and thats on a very clear day). Apparently this is common.

They do have a $25 hike in the afternoon, which you may consider taking if the day is clear. They'd probably take you to the best spots to view the lava from as well.

The downside to this hotel is that there's not much to do after a day's worth of activity. So switch to something more central to La Fortuna or the hot springs (we liked Tabacon).


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 Arenal Observatory Lodge

We've found that other people looking for this hotel also know it by these names:

Arenal Observatory Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos

Address: 5 miles past Tabacon, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Province of Alajuela, Costa Rica