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“Rustic Paradise” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Princesa de la Luna Eco Lodge

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Princesa de la Luna Eco Lodge
La Fortuna, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 506, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel website
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Hotel amenities
Toronto, Canada
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
“Rustic Paradise”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 31, 2013

My girlfriend and I had the privilege of staying at Princesa de la Luna for the last few days of our Christmas and New Years trip to Costa Rica. It was an absolute pleasure and a wonderfully relaxing site to end a fantastic trip. John was very hospitable and the morning breakfast was delicious, not to mention a beautiful view of the volcano from the breakfast table.

Our room was open and clean, with a surprisingly comfortable bed!!!

For those of you that are use to staying in hotels and absolutely spotless resorts with full time cleaning crews, keep this in mind. Princesa de la Luna is a Eco Lodge that is located smack in the middle of a jungle roughly 15 mins up a rough dirt road. It is an open concept escape that it intended as a means of immersing ones self in the beauty of nature and being surrounded in a location off the beaten path.

Of all the holidays I have been on, this was tops in my books and Princesa del la Luna will most definitely be on my "must see again" list. Where else can you see wildlife in their habitat while perched high above the jungle sipping a cup of tea? Not to mention that John built the place from the ground up!!!

Much thanks and we hope to see you in the years to come!

Cheers
Ed

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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131 people have reviewed this hotel

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (26)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Albuquerque, New Mexico
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 6 cities Reviews in 6 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed January 16, 2013

My husband and I were scheduled to stay at Princesa de la Luna for two nights in January. We were definitely caught off-guard by the remoteness of the place and by the extreme poor condition of the road going up. When we arrived, Jonathan was asleep in his room and we didn't know where we needed to check in, so we entered the nearest structure and called out "hello?" We were greeted by a groggy man, dressed in filthy clothes, who had clearly been caught off guard by our arrival. A supposed explanation for his unpreparedness, he placed the blame on me for not emailing him our arrival time. He showed us to our room, which was nice enough; very large (overly so, with a lot of empty space), and then took us on a tour of the property. Everything, from the furniture to the building itself, seemed to be in a state of squalor or decay, and when we got to the kitchen that state of squalor was disgustingly apparent in dirty dishes and pans, insects co-mingling with rotting fruits on the counter, and stray cats on dirty countertops(I assume they are strays because when I asked Jonathan what the name was of one of the animals, he replied, "cat" before aggressively pushing it off the counter.)
I wouldn't have minded as much if the dirtiness had been confined to furniture and other common areas, but to see it in the kitchen was overwhelmingly off-putting. Paying over $100/night, you should not have to be confronted with your worst nightmare of a college boy bachelor pad gone awry (I indeed saw kitchens like this in college, but at least those were small-scale and I wasn't paying to eat food made in them.) When Jonathan asked us what we would be eating for dinner that night, I replied that I didn't have anything planned and I hadn't anticipated such a rough drive into town. Jonathan then told me that I should have let him know if we would be having meals at Princesa, re. an email that had been exchanged months prior that I hadn't replied to at the time. Jonathan, when you are running a business, sometimes you need to follow up. A week before our arrival, you could have checked in with us. I know it is annoying when people don't respond to the first email, but a follow-up is standard and necessary in these instances if you haven't heard back within an appropriate timeframe.
My husband and I took a short walk through the property, which is beautiful, and we spent some time on the deck overlooking (in the far distance) Arenal volcano. After reviewing our options, we decided that, as we were on our honeymoon, we would be upfront with situations that weren't satisfactory to us and would move on to another place. We told Jonathan, trying not to be offensive in explaining our reasoning for wanting to leave, as he is a nice enough man who just seems to be clueless on running a business in the thriving tourism industry of Costa Rica. My husband ended up saying, vaguely, "this place doesn't really have amenities we were looking for on our honeymoon." More honestly, we were both disgusted by the dirtiness- not "outdoor" induced dirtiness, as another reviewer said, but human-caused dirtiness that comes from neglect and not taking proper care of your property- that we encountered at nearly every turn at Princesa de la Luna.
The property has so much potential; the rainforest flora is spectacular, and the layout of the place is really unique and beautiful. My impression, however, is that Jonathan built the lodge and doesn't have the money to keep it up. Also, that he himself finds his surrounding state of squalor normal and acceptable, and he can't understand why other people do not feel the same. Upon us leaving, Jonathan said that he couldn't understand why; that this had never happened to him before. Reading other negative reviews of this place, I see that it has indeed happened with other guests. Reading the positive reviews, these travelers seem mostly to have been traveling in large groups; I can see how this would be fun, if approached like jungle camp for grownups, as long as travelers overlook the kitchen completely and justify the dirtiness as "rustic".
One positive: Jonathan did refund our deposit completely, for which I give him a lot of credit. Other proprietors we encountered on our trip would not have done this. Again, Jonathan is a nice and interesting person, but his lodge needs some major updates, cleaning, and he needs to learn how to interact with clients who are giving him their money with the expectation that they will in turn find lodgings that meet the standards of basic cleanliness, comfort, and professionalism.

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 8, 2013

The Princessa de la Luna is very well-located on the side of a hill accessible via a short car ride from the town of La Fortuna. The location is idyllic with a great view of the Arenal volcano, filled with a staggering range of flora, and a pathway down to a private pool complete with a nearby waterfall (there is also another waterfall further away on the property).

Jonathan, the owner, was very proactive and helpful in attending to our needs and requests, as were the rest of the staff. The truth be told, we began to view the Princessa as home towards the end of our stay and stayed a couple more days than originally intended.

I would recommend the Princessa highly to anyone open to new experiences and looking for off-the-beaten track B & B's to put their feet up at during their stay at La Fortuna.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kathmandu, Nepal
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 16, 2012

We ended up staying an additional 2 nights based on how much we loved the place and perhaps more importantly, the people.

This lodge does THE single thing that would behoove all places in Costa Rica to do: let nature speak for itself. Princesa is teeming with plants, wildlife, and stunning views of the volcano. Princesa itself is not sanitized--you won’t find polished wood furniture with ridiculously chipper waitstaff. You will, however, find hammocks and no-frills curtains pulled back to show off the views. Princesa de la Luna is a lodge, in most every sense of the word: you have your large patios, communal eating spaces, and lounges.

But to call Princesa a simple lodge wouldn’t do the place justice—it’s also a home, if you open your heart to it. As cheesy as that might sound, it’s true. I wholly recommend diving headfirst into the experience and just treating the place as if it’s yours. Use the kitchen, stock up on beer or wine (and be willing to share, of course!) and leave a book or two in the lounge. The longer I stayed, the more magical the place became. I usually took a spot in the corner hammock and did some writing or meditating, and it was one of the most enjoyable ways to wake up. The views are incredible.

I’d recommend travelers think hard about what they want from their vacation before booking Princesa: Do you want an eco lodge where you’re part of nature and don’t mind bugs, or do you want to keep an arm’s length while the staff maintains a manicured landscape of it? Do you want a place that offers entertainment packages during your stay, or do you want a place to rest and relax after hitting hiking trails on your own? Do you want a full service menu and bar, or do you want to let the house cooks use available ingredients and surprise you with their creativity? It’s okay to prefer the first options, but if so, Princesa (and any other eco lodge, for that matter) is NOT for you.

As for Princesa’s staff, don’t expect to feel like a guest of the place. There are no wide-eared smiles and monosyllabic answers to questions. For this reason, expect to feel like a neighbor, friend, or long-lost visitor. Some people might not like this aspect: we do, as we’re the type to feel really awkward when we’re in places where the staff is more like a furniture fixture for our beck and call rather than a person with life experience to share. I was glad that on our first night, Jonathan sat up with us as we all exchanged stories. On the second night, we had a blast with the staff over some delicious dinner and drinks. It was so much fun to be in the kitchen trying to make a banana flower salad for the group (though um, that dish definitely won’t be on the menu any time soon)!

What we really liked about Princesa was the sense of family gained from staying here. There is something to love about every single person at Princesa, and it can be discovered over dinner, a walk near the poolside or while getting a ride into the city from Diego. We enjoyed learning about Jonathan's interesting life, Diego's ambitions to build homes, and meeting Maurene's lovely family.

The hospitality is exuded in unexpected ways. You won't have welcome cocktails, or a sign from the housekeeper thanking you for your stay. It's.. well, it's better than that. For instance, Jonathan loaned me a rain jacket for ziplining and actually cleaned my boots for me upon returning. Maurene is such a sweetheart and it was a ton of fun trying to converse with her in my terrible Spanish and her only-slightly-better English.

The place offers more activities than would meet the eye: There's the on-site hiking trails to the waterfall, walking into town (yes, we walked to La Fortuna and it was amazing walking through scenic valleys, cloud-covered mountains, cattle farms, over rushing rivers and fruit plantations), massages on the deck, etc. I'd recommend asking Jonathan what to do: he might send you to watch a game of football with the neighbors, arrange for a fishing trip with the Spanish-speaking locals, book a ziplining trip for you, take you for a fruit tree tour along the property... you never know!

Princesa definitely won't be for everybody. Some will be off-put by the bugs, or the dirty dishes, or the absence of housekeeping. But if you're looking for a gorgeous taste of Costa Rica complete with some really interesting personalities, I couldn't recommend this place more.

  • Stayed December 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
fort lauderdale
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
16 helpful votes 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed November 29, 2012

Princesa De La Luna, What can I say...One of the best experiences of my life. I have been to Costa Rica 7 times before and its the one country that keeps calling me back. I decided to show my love for this country by bringing some of the be
st people in the world, my friends! So there are 11 of us driving up this bumpy dirt road, just outside one of my favorite cities, La Fortuna. We arrive to a sign that points to Princesa De La Luna and we take that path. The path is a small road covered in beautiful plants and flowers...it looks amazing! We arrive to a driveway and to the left is the main part of the lodge, in front is one of the cabins attached to the main lodge and to the right are 2 other separate cabins. There are 2 levels to the main lodge. The bottom level is a huge lounge area with a stereo, comfy seats, great for hanging out...you step down a couple steps from the main lounging area and thats where you will find a beautiful old school, all natural HUGE kitchen area with a wood burning fire pit, stove, sink, over and refrigerator, along with every other kitchen item you may need. Just past that is this amazing dining room area with an adoreable bar area. All of this is surrounded by rainforest. All out in the open, at one with nature. Just past the dining area is a natural jacuzzi surrounded by the rainforest. AMAZINGLY BEAUTIFUL. On the second level there are 2 huge bedrooms, not attached both leading out onto a deck overlooking the rainforest and the famous Arenal Volcano. There are swings, lounge chairs, leather couches.. beautiful area to hang out in. There are a total of 5 bedrooms. 2 which are attached to the main lodge and 3 which are separate from the house. Each room has a couple of beds and each has its own bathroom and shower. The second level has an outside shower, facing the rainforest... that was the shower we used the most, it was awesome! The first level has an additional bathroom and shower. And this is just the lodge. On the property you have acres of rainforest. We hiked to a waterfall which was so beautiful. It was about a 10-15 minute hike and there was also a pool as well which is a natural spring fed pool. The property is stunning and just walking around during the day you will find all kinds of treasure, flora, fauna and all kinda of wildlife. Not to mention Paco, the dog, who lives at the property and will be your best little snuggle partner. With all this being said, my favorite part of Princesa De La Luna is the owner and the neighbors there. We met Johnathan the first night and were amazing at what a very sweet down to earth person he is. The next morning, the neighbors (staff) came in to cook us all breakfast. The food was delicious and they were so kind and so sweet. It felt like home instantly. We were there a total of 5 days, over Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving we asked all the neighbors, friends I have in town and Johnathan to please come and join us. It was absolutely on of the most heart felt moments of my life. We were all cooking, cleaning, enjoying each others company...Even with the slight language barrier for some of us, it felt like we were family. We all ate together and it was beautiful. The next night, they all came and made us an amazing dinner which we all sat and had together. Johnathan, the owner of the lodge, was so helpful and kind. It is amazing to see him help the local community-so much humanity. Its not something you see in the US all that often. By the time we had to leave, we were all teary eyed. It was so hard to leave what had become our home in just 5 short days. We fell in love with the people..the kids.. the neighbors, the house.. the rainforest. Ive been back for a few days now and I am missing it so much! Princesa De La Luna is magical to us. Our friendships have grown stronger, it changed us. The place is perfect for those who want a REAL Costa Rican experience. Perfect for groups of people who want a few different common areas to hang out it and also have privacy in their personal rooms. A Huge Thank YOU to everyone at Princesa De La Luna for changing our lives! We love you :)

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 28, 2012

Great way to immerse yourself in the Costa Rican jungle and disconnect for as long as you need to. Great people run the place and they go out of their way to make things as pleasant and comfortable for you as possible. Only drawback is the road to get there, but if you can handle off road bumpy conditions, then the end result is well worth it!

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Miami, Florida
1 review
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed November 27, 2012

If you're looking for a quiet place to relax and get lost in nature, this is the place to go. If you're looking for service, cleanliness, or entertainment this is not for you.

The Pro's:
1. Great breakfast although they did not change the menu the four days we ate there and we were getting tired of the same food every morning.
2. Beautiful scenery.
3. Nice spring pool.
4. Great nature trains and waterfall.
5. Great view of the stars and moon on a clear night.
6. Great for taking pictures.

The Cons:
1. VERY DIRTY and I'm not talking about dirt from the location being in the rainforest. I'm talking about lack of cleanliness. When we first got there, I was totally grossed out to see that we had to use the soap nuggets that were used by previous guests. The soap was cracked and dry and had hair from previous guests. Totally GROSS!
- The toilets and sinks were dirty. You would think the maid would get some cleaner and wipe down the area after each guests departure. It wouldn't surprise me if this place doesn't even have a maid. We never saw one the four days we were there. I was grossed out to touch anything there.
- The floors were gross and all of our rooms could have used a good sweep and moping. The rooms had not been swept in months. There were dried out bugs, dirt and spider webs in corners that lead to this conclusion.
- There were termites in our bedding; had to get the bedding stripped the moment we got there. But the beds were comfortable and the fans were nice.
2. Jacuzzi was out of order. It looks worn and didn't look like it was under any repair. It was advertised that it had a Jacuzzi and we were very much looking forward to it, over wine and looking out at the volcano and rainforest. It was a huge disappointment to find out the night we got there that the Jacuzzi was broken. You can not advertise you have a Jacuzzi for your guests if it's broken. That's false advertisement.
3. The kitchen tables were infested with termites. It was hard to sit and eat without fighting off the termites. The entire place is infested and needs a good extermination or reconstruction with treated wood to solve that problem. Termites everywhere including the rooms and beds. No mosquitos tho and that was a big plus.
4. The refrigerator where we kept our food and water was DISGUSTING. It looked like it had never been cleaned and was full of mold inside. Food is kept here...for heavens sake, clean it!

Another issue was that there was no way of contacting someone if there was an emergency; a fall or a heart attack. You'll die there. Each night when we returned to the lodge from running around La Fortuna, the whole place was shut down - pitch black. We were the guests and we were the ones who had to run around in the rain all over the lodge turning on light so we could see where we were going. I would at least expect, if Jonathan could not be there, that lights to the entrance of our rooms would be turned on or to the path that leads to the kitchen so we could get our waters for the night. This was annoying.

- Jonathan is a nice guy but needs to make some changes at the lodge. The customer service outside of chit-chat is poor. Although, if you complain about something, Jonathan will address it just enough to get you by. Don't expect to get royal treatment or discounts for complaints.

My advice to Jonathan is, u have a gold mine that has the potential to be #1 in La Fortuna. It's a unique place but it's run down, dirty, needs upgrades, clean soap or advertise that guests need to provide their own toiletries. Beds should be clean and rooms properly swept prior to guest arrival. Showers, sinks and toilets should be cleaned prior to guests arrival also. Lights should be lit at night for the cabin homes and there should be some sort of emergency phone your guests can use in case they need help. It doesn't matter if you are in the middle of the rainforest, cleanliness, good customer service, and safety should not be a concern for anyone who pays for lodging anywhere.

Also, you can make so much more money if you have an open bar for your guests and greet them with a cold drink upon arrival like many other lodges do. You can sell cold pipa's from your own land; sell fruit salads from fruit harvested from your own land and some weekend entertainment with open cash bar and appetizers. Put a air hockey table, darts or a pool table for teens and kids to play. Make it more family friendly and a place ppl want to stay and spend their money. Put up a gift shop with Princesa de la Luna mugs, cups, magnets, t-shirts and stuffed animals with Paco and Luna's names on them. For sure we would have bought these things there simply bc our kids fell in love with the dogs.

Would we stay at Princesa de la Luna again? Not for now. But if I win the lottery, I would make Jonathan an offer and buy the place and turn it into a "happening" family friendly hot spot. :)

I would recommend this for single men who are on safari type adventures...who need a bed, shower and a quick meal in the morning before moving on to their next expedition. I advice ppl with families or kids to not stay there. You'll enjoy your stay more at a hotel.

Room Tip: Bring your own soap.
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  • Stayed August 2012, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 1 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Princesa de la Luna Eco Lodge

Address: La Fortuna, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 506, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Best Value Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
#19 Romantic Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Park Princess of the Moon Ecolodge is nestled in a lush tropical plant farm with a great location. This magical place is unusual, with more than 100 types of fruit trees, including many threatened and endangered species. The area is one of the most biodiverse and fertile in the world so wonderful to understand, observe and experience wildlife and nature. The aim is to integrate the principles of permaculture and creating a lifestyle self-sufficient and sustainable in harmony with the local biodiversity. Swimming pools, waterfalls, jacuzzi and many hiking trails on the farm as well as many other activities in the area. This is an interesting place for a honeymoon or a romantic adventure. ... more   less 
Also Known As:
Princesa De La Luna Eco Lodge Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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