Northern Plains Hotels


Arenal Observatory Lodge

At a Glance


  • best volcano views
  • secluded location
  • rate includes breakfast, taxes, and guided hike


  • rough road to get here
  • isolated location
  • no in-room phones
  • patchy Wi-Fi

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  

Arenal Observatory Lodge Review

These cozy, comfortable, simply furnished rooms allow you to sleep as close as anyone should to a volcano—it's a mere 2.7 km (1.7 miles) away, and stellar views and outdoor activities are what the place is all about. The facility was founded by Smithsonian researchers in 1987 and is fairly rustic, though after a hike on the 7 miles of well maintained trails, you can take a dip in the infinity pool or Jacuzzi, which face tall pines on one side and the volcano on the other. With over 400 species of birds and 870 acres of private rain forest, this property is a dream for birdwatchers. Other activities include hikes to the waterfall, horseback riding, bicycling through the trails, or relaxing at the spa. Five of the rooms are wheelchair accessible, as are a couple of miles of the property's trails. The dining room, which serves tasty and hearty food, has great views of the volcano and lake.

    Hotel Details

  • 46 rooms; 2 suites
  • Rate includes breakfast.
Updated: 04-14-2014

Fodorite Reviews

Average Rating:  

    No other place like it

    Location, location, location. No other place has what the AOL offers--a scary-close view of the volcano (you can hear the boulders tumbling down the sides), a breathtaking view of the lake, and direct access to the national park and its wildlife. The view from the Smithsonian is awesome, but the standard rooms are nicer and bigger--so you can't lose. The only downsides are the evening dinner options--eat a hearty lunch if you must eat there at night--and the service. We tried to get reservations for Eco Termales in advance, but they refused. Sure enough, when we got there, Eco Termales was all booked up. Also, the reception desk is open at some inconvenient hours.

    by RAC, 4/14/08

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