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Arenal Observatory Lodge

Northern Costa Rica

Rating: Modest    

Arenal Observatory Lodge overview

Arenal Obeservatory Lodge was one of the first to be built in the area and it originally served as a scientific research station. From its hilltop setting there are far-reaching views down to Lake Arenal and across to the volcano, all of this can be admired from the spacious terrace sipping a drink and chatting to fellow guests.

The lodge has 48 rooms, suites and villas, all arranged across several buildings, some near the main area and others in more secluded locations. They provide convenient and comfortable accommodation for couples, small groups and families. There are various room types ranging from standard to private villas, but all offer a comfortable stay surrounded by lush tropical gardens, many of the rooms have balconies and verandas where you can sit and enjoy the volcano views.

The dining room has magnificent views of the southern slope of the Arenal Volcano and makes the most of these with floor to ceiling windows which open out onto a wide deck. The lodge is surrounded by colourful gardens filled with flowering plants and shrubs which have been carefully chosen to attract birds and wildlife. It's easy to while away time watching the hummingbirds dart from flower to flower and see the butterflies flitting between the colourful blooms. Over 360 bird species have been recorded in the lodge surrounds.

Peace and quiet is in abundance at Arenal Observatory Lodge,take yourself off to explore the lodge's 11 km of walking, biking and riding trails that wind through varied scenery. Should you wish, guides are on hand to offer added insights to help you gain the most from your time here and help you identify the many birds. When you want to relax, the lodge has an attractive outdoor pool, Jacuzzi and well equipped spa, or you could just take life easy on your balcony and relish the views of mighty Arenal Volcano.

Whilst there is plenty to keep you occupied at the lodge, there is also a wide range of activities on offer in the area. No visit to Arenal would be complete without a tour of the hanging bridges or a rainforest canopy tour. A more sedate activity might be a visit to the butterfly gardens and bird sanctuary, and if you want to mix things up then white water rafting is available to get the adrenalin pumping. Take a hike through the rainforest or explore on horseback. So much to do, so little time.


Open: Arenal Observatory Lodge is open all year round.

Location: This is the closest accommodation to the Arenal Volcano at 3 kms, and it is about 20 minutes drive from La Fortuna.

Rooms: There are 48 rooms in total across different categories. All are comfortable with en-suite facilities. Some are located in the main building and others in the grounds, surrounded by lush gardens.

Activities: There is plenty on offer here both in the lodge grounds and in the national park. This includes guided nature walks, bird watching in the hotel gardens, hiking, take the canopy tour which consists of 12 platforms and 10 zip lines, climbing, mountain biking, horse riding, white water rafting and fishing. You can take a tour of a local coffee plantation or relax in thermal springs.

Facilities: The hotel has a restaurant and terrace, a friendly bar, swimming pool and Jacuzzi and a spa where you can obtain relaxing massages and body wraps. The gardens are extensive and there is a private rainforest with 11kms of walking trails. There is a computer and WiFi available in the reception area.

Dining: Meals are served at individual tables in the restaurant or on the deck.

Children: Children of all ages are welcome at Arenal Kioro.

Health: Costa Rica has only a low risk of malaria.

Communication: There is WiFi internet access and a computer available at reception.

Map for Arenal Observatory Lodge

Lodge IconLodge Yacht IconVessel Tented Camp IconCamp Hotel IconHotel National Park IconNational Park Historic site IconHistoric site Place of Interest IconPlace of Interest UNESCO world heritage site IconUNESCO heritage site

Paul Cook
Rory McCormick
Alex Neaves
Tracy Edwards
Anita Crowson
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customer rating

100% from
4 reviews











client reviews

Mr. Adrian Davies (17/08/2019)

"Very nice villa. Excellent location. Good restaurant and kids menu if a little large and impersonal. Excellent kayaking from Fortuna. Lots of wildlife in a rather tamer environment than Tortuguero although therefore easy to see."

Mrs. Christine Sacre
"Fabulous location close to the volcano with great views from the balcony of the Smithsonian rooms. Beautiful grounds, friendly staff, especially at reception, and reasonable food. Great birding experiences, particularly on the birdfeeders from the decking outside the restaurant - a constant interruption to the meal. Free morning walk offered by lodge well worth doing."
Mr. David Gough
"We picked the hotel because the birding was good there and so it proved. Staff were friendly, the rooms were good and the wildlife excellent. We particularly liked the deck overlooking the bird feeders."
Caroline Muir (29/02/2020)
"WE booked a Smithsonian room on Anita recommendation which meant we had a lovely view of the Volcano and garden from our balcony and it was worth every penny. Clean and comfortable and staff friendly and helpful and the most amazing grounds with lovely walks and a viewing tower and bird feeders on a viewing deck so we had great views of so many birds including Toucans and hummingbirds"

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