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Arenal Hotel Recommendation: Arenal Observatory Lodge; Part 1: The Hotel

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Last up to date on June 6th, 2019 at 04:02 pm

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The under publish is the primary a part of our two-part collection concerning the Arenal Observatory Lodge. For the aim of our collection, the Arenal Observatory Lodge info has been divided into two sections:

#1. The lodge (i.e., who should stay on the lodge, who may want to stay elsewhere, the lodge’s property, lodge room accommodations, and eating at the Arenal Observatory Lodge)
#2. Nature trails and things to do (i.e., statement deck lookouts, onsite museum, nature walks, challenging hikes, waterfall visits, and different issues to do at the Arenal Observatory Lodge)


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Photograph taken by Nikki and Ricky Solano © Copyright 2007-2018 Costa Rica Travel Weblog (Pura Vida! eh? Inc.)

A observe from the photographers: If the above image appears elsewhere online without credit score assigned to us and/or our web site(s), it has been stolen. In case you want to reproduce, quote, or paraphrase any photographs, textual content content material, or concepts that appear on our web site(s). please contact us first for permission.

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ class=”wp-image-178341 size-full” src=”knowledge:image/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=’’%20viewBox=’0%200%201200%201800’%3E%3C/svg%3E” alt=”Arenal Observatory Lodge” width=”1200″ peak=”1800″ data-lazy- data-lazy- data-recalc-dims=”1″ data-lazy-src=”″/>Nikki; view of the Arenal Volcano from our room

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Having lived in La Fortuna for a variety of years, we’re accustomed to nearly all of accommodation choices situated within the area. We’ve got been to most and have spent days and nights at many (the Arenal Observatory Lodge included), yet the handful of inns that we choose to advocate to travellers make up a really brief record (don’t miss our related blog publish Costa Rica Hotel Suggestion Collection: The place To Stay In La Fortuna/Arenal for access to this listing). As per our choice for being picky, our Arenal lodge recommendations are rigorously and cautiously curated in accordance with a variety of elements. Whereas we offer basic details under concerning the Arenal Observatory Lodge (specifically, the lodge’s rooms, property, and restaurant), what is most telling is our admittance of why it took us so long to advocate the lodge to others, and extra importantly, why we’re more assured doing so now than ever earlier than. For travellers who’re concerned about studying concerning the onsite actions and things to do on the Arenal Observatory Lodge, don’t miss part two of our blog collection: Arenal Hotel Suggestion: Arenal Observatory Lodge; Part 2: Nature Trails And Issues To Do.

Why we hesitated to advocate the Arenal Observatory Lodge for therefore long

Let’s get the apparent point out of the best way first (some extent that, arguably, many travellers contemplate to be an obstacle). If the next actuality was sufficient for us to hesitate recommending the Arenal Observatory Lodge to travellers at one time limit, there is a good probability that the same reality is impacting your decision-making too.

The Arenal Observatory Lodge is situated an approximate twenty-five minute drive west of downtown La Fortuna. Given it’s distance from city, most tour operators and transportation service providers do not contemplate it to be a “La Fortuna hotel”, and as such, most won’t embrace complimentary pick-up and drop-off providers at the lodge without charging additional pick-up or drop-off charges (these charges are likely to range from $20-$50 per group, per means). In addition, given the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s remote location, there are few eating choices located near the lodge, excluding the lodge’s onsite restaurant (additionally it is value noting that there are not any dining choices within strolling distance of the lodge, aside from the lodge’s onsite restaurant). Because of these two inconveniences (i.e., applicable pick-up/drop-off charges and the shortage of dining choices close by), it is advantageous–although not required–that friends of the Arenal Observatory Lodge have access to a rental car during their stay within the La Fortuna area (free car parking is out there on the lodge). Furthermore, since half of the drive between downtown La Fortuna and the Arenal Observatory Lodge (the latter half, if departing from downtown La Fortuna) is run on a bumpy street, having a 4X4 car is advisable.

Any “Costa Rica expert” will tell you a similar as what we state above. And, they too can be right. Yes, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is likely one of the furthest lodges from downtown La Fortuna (technically, it’s thought-about an “El Castillo hotel”). Yes, it might be greatest to visit with a rental automotive. And sure, the bumpy drive to and from the lodge isn’t probably the most nice. We bought into these “disadvantages” for a long time too, until we opted to spend a number of days at the lodge, and we fell in love. We discovered for ourselves how the lodge’s few “disadvantages” pale compared to the brilliance of “advantages” they create, and we turned insta-fans of the property that we argue is probably the most distinctive in all of La Fortuna.

Why we will advocate the Arenal Observatory Lodge with confidence, to travellers with or and not using a rental automotive

After a quick rainshower, Ricky and I have been sitting on a coated balcony outdoors of our room on the Arenal Observatory Lodge. We had accomplished a challenging hike to the property’s waterfall a number of hours earlier, and we have been having fun with some downtime as we watched Oropendulas beat the humidity by feasting on slices of juicy watermelon. Beams of sunlight broke via the clouds and illuminated the Arenal Volcano National Park under; Lake Arenal shone within the distance. Because the fog lifted, a mere kilometer and a half in entrance of us stood the mammoth Arenal Volcano. Although we had long-lived on the base of the beast on its east aspect, the place we sat to the west, we might virtually reach out and contact it. As we recurrently do after we cross another Costa Rica travel expertise off our bucket listing, Ricky and I mirrored on the day’s escapades–what we appreciated, what we didn’t like, what was shocking, what was uneventful, and what we might think about recommending to others. Not surprisingly, we each came to the same conclusion about our time on the lodge: that while the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s remoteness could also be a hindrance to some, because of it, we have been capable of expertise a wonderfully quiet scene, an unobstructed volcano view, and a nature-filled few days in Costa Rica’s epicenter of journey (a.okay.a., La Fortuna) with none disturbance from the pushy sort of tourism that engulfs the town’s middle. Fortuitously for us, at the lodge we existed on what felt like our personal time in what really was our personal area. Maybe most tellingly, we realized that we might have beloved our visit simply as a lot had our car not been parked in the lodge’s lot, and from this point on, we knew that not accessing a rental automotive was not a adequate excuse for lacking out on every thing that the Arenal Observatory Lodge has to offer.

So, why exactly is the Arenal Observatory Lodge so unique? Because it is–quite literally–La Fortuna’s “Arenal” “Observatory” “Lodge”. Many accommodations within the region supply volcano views, however none permit guests to see the Arenal Volcano as close and with as much detail because the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Many lodging in the area supply informative placards and fowl/wildlife recognizing guides, however none supply as full a set because the museum at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. And, though many lodging within the area function rustic design and forest-infused decor that invitations the outside in, none present the identical “remote wilderness” experience that the Arenal Observatory Lodge is understood for.


Though we fell in love with the lodge, the Arenal Observatory Lodge isn’t for everyone. We might advocate you propose so as to add a stay at the Arenal Observatory Lodge to your time in La Fortuna/Arenal if…

  1. You’re keen on nature! Merely put, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is likely one of the greatest lodging within the La Fortuna/Arenal area for accessing barely-touched land; not solely is almost all of the lodge’s property lush and green, however it boasts each main and secondary forest, and is adjoining to the Arenal Volcano National Park
  2. You have an interest in strolling/mountaineering self-guided trails that adjust in period and problem
  3. You have an interest in educating your self concerning the volcano, volcanic activity, and/or the historical past of the lodge’s property (i.e., you’d make use of the lodge’s onsite musuem and benefit from the info offered)
  4. You have an interest in birdwatching
  5. You have an interest in bugs
  6. You are interested in flora
  7. You do not require a high diploma of stimulation, action, journey, or motion to stay (i.e., you would spend a couple of hours studying a guide on the lodge’s balcony, admiring the encompassing views from quite a lot of lookout points, or strolling by means of a walking path; you do not bore easily and/or really feel nature is exciting sufficient!)
  8. You wouldn’t thoughts the required transportation (approximately twenty-five minutes, each means) to get to and from downtown La Fortuna where nearly all of dining and purchasing options are situated); you consider the lodge’s distant location is properly well worth the trip
  9. You want to keep at a lodge that is quiet, slow-paced, and presents a hospitality experience that includes a lot of “down time”
  10. When you have a rental automotive, you do not thoughts driving yourselves between the lodge and downtown La Fortuna to be able to participate in excursions/actions that interest you
  11. In the event you should not have a rental automotive, you don’t mind paying additional charges to tour operators and/or transportation service suppliers to obtain pick-up/drop-off providers instantly on the lodge in an effort to participate in tours/activities that curiosity you


In distinction to the listing offered above, if you don’t plan to spend a lot time at your La Fortuna accommodation (i.e., if nearly all of your days in the area can be spent exploring the town, collaborating in offsite excursions and activities, and/or taking day tours to close by towns or points of interest), then maybe the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s distant property and onsite offerings would pose few benefits to you. If all you need is room and board, in case you are in search of financial system or resort-quality lodging, if you don’t want to be located far from the town’s middle, if you don’t want to lease a automotive or pay tour operators/transportation service suppliers further pick-up/drop-off charges, and/or in case you are not overly curious about nature’s delicate magnificence (as evident in crops, flowers, birds, insects, and so on.), maybe one of the other La Fortuna lodges that we advocate in our associated weblog publish Costa Rica Hotel Suggestion Collection: Where To Keep In La Fortuna/Arenal can be most popular by you.


Categorised as a superior lodge, the Arenal Observatory Lodge gives primary, clear, quiet, and protected accommodations at affordable costs. Shared accommodations within the La Casona building assist maintain the lodge reasonably priced to backpackers and travellers with a strict finances, but personal normal rooms, superior rooms (referred to as “Smithsonian” rooms), and junior suites are available for couples, families, and good friend groups looking for independence and higher privacy, and at costs which might be corresponding to (if not inexpensive than) these provided by different superior motels in the area. During our visit, we beloved that our room was spacious, our balcony/terrace had a terrific volcano view, and our toilet was divided into two elements so I might use the sink and mirror to prepare within the morning while Ricky hopped within the bathe. We additionally thought that the lodge’s acutely aware determination to not provide televisions in their rooms was intelligent, as was the witty signal within the rest room that reminds visitors to throw all rest room paper within the trash bin versus the bathroom (a regular Costa Rican follow on the majority of lodges throughout the country):

Kleenex, matches, pins, and strings,
filter ideas and different issues–
nation plumbing will reject
so, urbanite, be circumspect.
It’s all a hassle and a care,
however oh my pricey! So necessaire.
~ Anon(ymous)

Outdoors of our second-floor room, we have been spoiled with two sitting areas complete with Adirondack chairs that we flip flopped between; one on the north aspect of the building that faced the onsite restaurant and provided a view of each Lake Arenal and the Arenal Volcano, and another on the south aspect of the building that backed onto the lodge’s heavily forested grounds–a great spot for birdwatching, and one creatively adorned with lovely lava rocks. Whereas many travellers would anticipate to obtain such luxuries with the acquisition of an upgraded keep, we opted for the lodge’s commonplace room, and we have been pleasantly stunned by the twin expertise it offered.


The Arenal Observatory Lodge’s property might be divided into two sections: the upper constructing and the decrease building. As visitors of the higher building, we have been handled to quick access to the lodge’s reception, widespread room, and restaurant. In contrast, friends that keep within the lower constructing are located closer to the lodge’s pool, Jacuzzi, spa, museum, recreation room, and nature trails. Car parking is out there nearby each the higher and lower buildings, and inner transportation (for journey across the lodge’s property) is offered free-of-charge between the hours of 7:00am and 10:00pm so long as it’s coordinated prematurely by way of the lodge’s reception. For travellers who would like to walk to and from the lodge’s separate areas, directional signs scattered all through the property will guide your approach.

Given the Arenal Observatory Lodge’s remote location, the lodge’s reception (open from 7:00am to 10:00pm day by day) is the go-to spot for info and necessities. Along with providing many gadgets for buy (including souvenirs, books, and toiletry gadgets), the reception additionally offers friends with towels for use at the pool and a free fowl guide (don’t overlook to ask for the chook record upon check-in). The reception can also be liable for verifying visitor entry to the lodge by way of the property’s entrance gate. For security reasons, the front gate closes at 11:00pm (no exceptions) and reopens at 5:00am, so travellers should plan their check-in, check-out, and/or day trips accordingly. In addition, the property’s footpath and street lighting is turned off at 11:00pm, so to attenuate danger and greatest avoid damage, visitors should plan to be of their rooms by this time.


  • With earlier reservation, the Arenal Observatory Lodge can present transportation to and from the lodge and downtown La Fortuna (at a set location: in entrance of the grocery store “Super Cristian #1”, subsequent to Hotel Las Palmas) at 3 times day by day: departing from the Arenal Observatory Lodge at 6:15am, 10:15am, and four:20pm, and departing from downtown La Fortuna at 7:00am, 12:30pm, and 5:15pm. The value for the one-way service is $eight.00 per individual ($16.00 per individual round-trip). In case you are a lone traveller and you do not plan to drive yourself to and from La Fortuna to be able to participate in day tours/activities, and if considered one of Arenal Observatory Lodge’s shuttle service occasions will be just right for you in line with your day’s itinerary, contemplate taking the lodge’s shuttle to and from downtown La Fortuna and catching the tour operator’s pick-up from there. The value you’ll pay to the Arenal Observatory Lodge for the shuttle service can be less than the price a tour operator will charge to select you up and/or drop you off on the Arenal Observatory Lodge instantly. Alternatively, in case you are travelling in a gaggle, it might be financially advantageous so that you can pay the tour operator’s pick-up/drop-off charges; these are sometimes charged per group (not per individual), and chances are you’ll pay less to the tour operator general than in case you pay the Arenal Observatory Lodge their per individual shuttle service fee.

Related to the reception is the lodge’s widespread room, the place seating, a television, a pc, a tabletop chess recreation, and a classic telephone booth are available for visitor use. The widespread room—together with the lodge’s recreation room and museum situated elsewhere on the property—supply alternatives for passing time throughout wet durations. Nevertheless, even when it rained briefly during our visit, we selected to make use of our room’s balcony/terrace amid the shower; because the rain started to let up, we have been right there to see and hear toucans play within the mist.

<img data-attachment-id="178319" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="2848,4272" data-comments-opened="0" data-image-meta=""aperture":"7.1","credit score":"","digital camera":"Canon EOS REBEL T3","caption":"","created_timestamp":"1471558823","copyright":"","focal_length":"18","iso":"100","shutter_speed":"zero.02","title":"","orientation":"1"" data-image-title="arenal observatory lodge (14)" data-image-description="

Photograph taken by Nikki and Ricky Solano © Copyright 2007-2018 Costa Rica Journey Weblog (Pura Vida! eh? Inc.)

A notice from the photographers: If the above picture seems elsewhere on-line without credit score assigned to us and/or our website(s), it has been stolen. In the event you wish to reproduce, quote, or paraphrase any photographs, text content, or concepts that appear on our web site(s). please contact us first for permission.

” data-medium-file=”″ data-large-file=”″ class=”wp-image-178319 size-full” src=”knowledge:picture/svg+xml,%3Csvg%20xmlns=’’%20viewBox=’0%200%201200%201800’%3E%3C/svg%3E” alt=”Arenal Observatory Lodge” width=”1200″ peak=”1800″ data-lazy- data-lazy- data-recalc-dims=”1″ data-lazy-src=”″/>Arenal Observatory Lodge deck overlooking Lake Arenal


Simply behind the lodge’s reception is a set of stairs that lead right down to the property’s Spider Bridge hanging bridge. Cross the bridge, and you’ll find the lower property’s building, museum, pool, Jacuzzi, spa, and nature trails. Obtainable for guest use solely, the spring-fed pool is situated next to the forest and is open between the hours of 9:00am and 10:00pm. The Jacuzzi—located around the corner from the pool—is obtainable throughout the identical hours. Additional down the decrease constructing’s path is the Observatory Spa, where numerous skin remedies including massages, wraps, and scrubs are carried out (for a further charge).


Eating ambiance, high quality, and affordability on the Arenal Observatory Lodge is necessary, provided that the subsequent closest restaurant to the lodge is a minimal ten-minute drive away. Luckily, when it comes to general experience, the restaurant doesn’t disappoint. Perched above the forest, not solely do the floor-to-ceiling home windows present a shocking view of the of the Arenal Volcano, but from the restaurant, one can even admire a blanket of treetops under and swarms of birds (mainly Oropendulas) out front.

Arenal Observatory Lodge restaurant hours
Breakfast: 7:00am to eight:30am
Lunch: 11:30am to four:30pm
Dinner: 6:00pm to eight:30pm
Comfortable hour offering two-for-one drinks: 5:00pm to six:00pm (bar closes at 10:00pm)


At dinner, we found the menu to be typical compared to what most lodges in the area serve, providing staple Costa Rican dishes resembling casados and quite a lot of meat cuts (for more details about meals in Costa Rica, don’t miss our associated blog publish What To Eat And Drink In Costa Rica: Our Costa Rica Meals/Beverage Listing And Order Ideas). As vegetarians, we might choose from one among four meal options: a combined vegetable plate, vegetables with rice, vegetable casado (rice, beans, greens, plantain, tortilla, and egg), or a concoction of combined vegetables in a curry and coconut sauce. From a pricing standpoint, although the meals value more at the Arenal Observatory Lodge than what we might sometimes pay for it elsewhere (provided that we favor to dine economically at local sodas), the prices have been in line with those of a higher-class restaurant and/or these present at most superior inns. The restaurant’s environment, nevertheless, was fantastic and properly well worth the added meals value; the open-air eating expertise was snug, and the lodge’s selection to soften the setting with candlelight was a nice contact.


In the morning, we have been spoiled by a breakfast buffet of recent fruit (watermelon, papaya, and pineapple), toast, cheese, meat, eggs, gallo pinto (rice and beans), pancakes, and more (notice that a boxed breakfast is obtainable to travellers who plan to go away the lodge prior to 7:00am, as long as the reception is informed of the early morning departure the night time before). Providing a much needed increase to start out off a moderately adventurous mountaineering day, we appreciated the protein-packed peanut butter cups and the selfmade banana bread. Yum!

All in all, we beloved our time at the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Nevertheless, much of our enjoyment stemmed from the onsite actions that we selected to take part in. For extra information about what we experienced at the lodge—specifically, the paths we hiked, what we saw, and what we might advocate to different travellers—don’t miss part two of our collection Arenal Hotel Suggestion: Arenal Observatory Lodge; Part 2: Nature Trails And Things To Do.


QUESTION TO COMMENT ON: Have you stayed on the Arenal Observatory Lodge? What did you assume?

Pura vida!

Should you’re more of a visible learner, take a second to view our gallery photographs under from our most recent visit to the Arenal Observatory Lodge.

Arenal Hotel Suggestion: Arenal Observatory Lodge; Part 1: The Hotel

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Nikki Solano

Nikki Solano is the CEO of Pura Vida! eh? Inc. and the writer of the Moon Costa Rica (2019). She also operates the Costa Rica Travel Weblog and DIY Costa Rica, and is a contract writer for rent.

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