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“View and Accessible Trails” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

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Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Certificate of Excellence
GreenLeadersBronze level
Seattle
Level Contributor
70 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“View and Accessible Trails”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 May 2014

The setting is so stunning I cannot help awarding this property an excellent rating. Do not expect much from the food or staff, expect to be comfortable in your room (more or less), but certainly expect to enjoy the trails and the spectacular views of the mountain and lake.

We opted for a Smithsonian Room (10D) and had a spectacular view of the volcano. The rooms are somewhat basic but good by CR standards. I would skip the many paid excursion offerings presented by the hotel. Instead, I recommend going on the free guided morning walk and exploring the grounds on your own. Do not be surprised if the guide on the free walk is utterly useless. When asked what a bird was he generally replied that it was obviously a bird. This same ignoramus was suddenly transformed into an ornithologist on the paid walk (I happened to overhear him explaining very minute details about bird behavior as I passed by his paid group). Still, you will get a chance to see a lot of the grounds and really it is the setting and the trail system that most highly recommends the lodge. The staff is remarkably unfriendly and unhelpful given that most people in CR are so kind and welcoming.

Understand: The road leading to the lodge is very primitive and so you should have a vehicle with some clearance. We had one of the ubiquitous gold RAV4s and this little SUV was perfect for maneuvering this road and the many other rough forest trails passing for roads in CR.

Also, there is only one food option: a restaurant that serves mediocre food at tourist prices.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Featherlessbiped
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (362)
Date | Rating
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English first
Washington DC, District of Columbia
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 22 May 2014

My wife and I spent 3 nights here. We were in la Casona, the cheapest rooms with shared bathrooms. In my opinion, they had the best views of Lake Arenal, so we were very happy.

Everything was very clean, and it was lovely having trails right outside our doors. We saw lots of birds, monkeys, and other wildlife.

The breakfast was solid, other meals so-so. I'd recommend going down to La Fortuna for better meals (other than the free breakfast).

If I had to do it again, I would have spent 2 days and 2 nights here.

Room Tip: La casona is cheapest, with shared bathrooms, but there are spectacular views
See more room tips
  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Asa F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Coffs Harbour
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 21 May 2014

I loved this place! It is beautifully maintained - the grounds and the views are amazing! It was great to have a Smithsonian room - I think no. 33. I'm surprised some people were not happy with the rooms - we thought they were very well kept - we had a view directly to the volcano and spent many hours on our balcony just watching the birds, the animals - and the clouds roll in and out - and of course the smoking volcano. We were lucky to have some clear weather.

The buffet breakfast was great - the restaurant has the most magnificent view! Dinner was...ok... - but we weren't there for the food! It was the setting that was important - and it was magnificent!

We spent four nights there - my husband did a lot more walking than me - but we explored all the trails - and also walked to Cerro Chato - wow I'm amazed I made it!

The birdwatching is great - they have feeders which attract so many varieties - and we enjoyed watching the coatis do their regular walk past our unit - up the hill - I gather to the feeder as well.

If you go to Costa Rica, make sure you visit here!

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Heather B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oslo, Norway
Level Contributor
18 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 May 2014 via mobile

We stayed here three nights and absolutely loved it. We were in la Casona (cheapest rooms with shared bathrooms) and it was nice, clean,cozy with no bugs:). The trails are good, some challenging, private and exciting. We saw several animals and interesring insects. The view is amazing and the food in the restaurant exellent. Our only disappointment were the boxed lunch (dry bread with sad queese) and the very sarcastic guide on the free guided tour. I will gladly come back and highly recommend this place.

Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
Helpful?
Thank Maria R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Level Contributor
151 reviews
59 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 71 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 18 May 2014

They must have recently increased the cost to $8 per person, but the cost is definitely worth it! We hiked for 4-5 hours, with great views of the volcano, and through the rainforest to the laguna of the second volcano. We did not really see anybody until we got to the laguna were we met a handful of people swimming in the lake.The hike was very strenuous and steep, but so worth it! On the way back we saw waterfalls, coatis and howler monkeys. After the hike, we had a snack at the restaurant of the observatory lodge which offers beautiful views of the volcano and Lake Arenal.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
Helpful?
Thank Danella23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Istanbul, Turkey
Level Contributor
91 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 149 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 17 May 2014

The Smithsonian rooms have balconies overlooking the volcano. They were able to provide a crib for our baby, which was very helpful. The hotel grounds are large, some rooms are quite far from the main building, and some areas have steps/steep walkways. If you have any special needs with regard to mobility, you may want to let the hotel know so they can place you accordingly. The front desk is very helpful, but otherwise do not expect great service here. It is a big resort, so it does not have the warm and friendly atmosphere that small B&Bs would. There are many trails around the hotel, and they offer free nature walks every morning with a guide, who was clearly very tired of his job, and hardly pointed out any birds to us, we had to stop and ask him. When we asked him about the history of the volcano, he offered us a $26 afternoon tour where he would be talking about the volcano in detail. Hmm...OK, thanks.
But the views are spectacular and we saw quite a bit of wildlife just walking around the hotel.

  • Stayed May 2014, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Andi W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Ile-de-France, France
Level Contributor
194 reviews
89 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 64 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 14 May 2014

The best location to observe the volcan : choose a Smithonian room, you will benefit from a terrace with the view on the lake and on the volcano.
Rooms are really big with 2 queen size beds, a dressing, tea coffee facilities, a safe and all you need; they are clean.
Go to the pool ; the situation is wonderfull (in the rainforest). It's opened till 10:00 p.m.
Every morning there is a free excursion in the forest at 8:30.
Concerning the restaurant : not perfect but quite good with an international choice of food.
Wifi places in the Lodge.

Room Tip: Choose a S;ithonian room for the view
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2014, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank lekikidu92
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

Property: Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa
Address: 23 Km West From la Fortuna Town, Located on the Base of the Arenal Volcano | Main road to Arenal National Park, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities (Kid / Family Friendly) Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 71 Speciality Lodging in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): ££
Hotel Class:3 star — Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa 3*
Number of rooms: 49
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Situated only 1.7 Miles from the majestic Arenal Volcano and with a spectacular view of Lake Arenal, the Arenal Observatory Lodge (AOL) offers guests the opportunity to DISCOVER, EXPLORE and RELAX. Located within the Arenal Conservation Area and surrounded by rainforests and nature, AOL sits on a 870 acres property, which consists of 400 acres of reforestation, 270 acres of natural forest and 200 acres of cultivated land. The hotel offers 48 comfortable rooms surrounded by gardens, the majority with a direct view of the volcano and/or the forest. The 7 miles of well-maintained trails for walking, horseback riding or biking running through the property provide good opportunities to observe a variety of flora and fauna. Approximately 400 species of birds live in the area making AOL a preferred destination for bird watchers. Activities at the hotel include hikes to the waterfall or to explore Cerro Chato (an extinct volcano with a small lake in the crater), horseback riding, bicycling through the trails, enjoying a refreshing swim in our pool, or simply relaxing with a massage in our SPA. The hotel is well located to serve as a base for a variety of excursions such as: Cano Negro Nature Refuge, hot springs, Venado Caves, Canopy Tours, Arenal Hanging Bridges, Fishing, White Water Rafting, Canyoning, Biking etc. It also serves as a very interesting stop before heading on to Monteverde Cloud Forest or to the beaches of the Pacific coast. Arenal Observatory Lodge is the perfect place for adventure lovers, families, and honeymooners. With its spectacular location, great service and friendly personnel you won't be disappointed ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Arenal Observatory Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa Costa Rica/La Fortuna De San Carlos

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