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“A little peace of paradise” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Arenal Lodge

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Arenal Lodge
3.0 of 5 Hotel   |   200 meters NW from the Arenal Lake dam | Escazú, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 1250, Costa Rica   |  
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Hotel amenities
Brooklyn, New York
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
18 helpful votes 18 helpful votes
“A little peace of paradise”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 29, 2011

This luxury-rustic resort is a former ranch located on 2,000 acres of land. From the restaurant, porch, pool, and both jacuzzis there are spectacular views of the volcano as well as lush vegetation and birds.

My boyfriend and I booked a room here the night before we flew to San Juan. The man at the front desk was extremely helpful and accommodating, and assisted me in booking the room last minute as well as booking transportation from the airport in San Jose.

Included in our room price was taxes, breakfast, a guided walk on the property, and a horse back ride. Upon our arrival, we received a free upgrade from a standard room to a junior suite!

The early morning horseback ride was definitely a highlight of our stay. Our guide took us down the hill from the pool, where we saw a pack of wild boars, toucans, and some kind of a hawk. He was very knowledgeable and we enjoyed the vistas.

This is the perfect place to relax, unwind, and take in the scenery. The only downsides are that it costs about $30 USD to travel by taxi into La Fortuna and takes about 25 minutes and that the mattresses could have been a little more comfortable.

Pura Vida!

  • Stayed August 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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467 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 stars
  • Location
    4 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    4 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (113)
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Grand Rapids, Michigan
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
15 hotel reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2011

We stayed here 4 nights during a 10 day trip through San Jose-Arenal-Monteverde-Tamarindo-Liberia. We rented a 4WD SUV and had a navigation system to get us around (a MUST if you choose to drive in CR!). My first advice if you choose to stay at this hotel: you should have a car. It is a bit far from town and the steep, curvy road to the hotel is quite an adventure every time you ascend or descend to/from the hotel. A taxi ride to and from town would be pricey. This hotel was recommended to us by a Tico friend who lives in San Jose. There were other hotels I had considered staying at but took her recommendation as she said she had stayed there before...I think we would have been much better served by NOT asking her advice of where to stay.

We had booked a mid-priced room to save a little money on the trip. We were given a lower room off the main building and it over looked the pool. When we entered the room, it was very dark and dingy and the smell of mildew was overpowering. I understand that in a tropical environment there is going to be some mold and mildew, I have traveled to the Philippines, Hawaii, and throughout the Caribbean and realize mildew is an issue in all tropical locations. However, the overpowering mold/mildew smell of this room was so strong, it made my eyes water. I knew there was NO way our family, and especially our children (11 and 8), could sleep in this room for 3 nights without experiencing serious breathing problems! I asked for another room. The woman at the front desk was very nice, and handed over a key to an upper room in the same building...it wasn't any better. Fortunately for us the hotel was practically empty that week, so when I went back to say the 2nd room wasn't acceptable, she kindly upgraded us to the best rooms on the property, one of the Chalets at the top of a very steep hill (it was nice to have the SUV to get us and our luggage up the hill!). When we arrived at the chalet, we discovered the door had been left open by housekeeping and the room was FILLED with bugs and was very hot (there is no a/c at this hotel). We shut the door, turned on the fans and spent the next hour swatting bugs. After an hour of insect extermination, our floor was COVERED with dead bugs. There was no broom in the room, so when we left for dinner, we explained what happened and asked if someone could clean the floor to get rid of the carnage from our bug-fest. They said no problem, it will be cleaned up. When we arrived back, whoever came in only swept through the middle of the room with a broom, all around the walls and on the throw rug were still hundreds of dead insects. My husband had to go all the way down the hill back to the lobby to get a broom, and I cleaned the room myself.

The one positive thing I can say about this hotel is that the view from the huge chalet windows is breath-taking! We were fortunate to have beautiful weather and had a clear view of the volcano for most of our time in Arenal. You also have an amazing view of the lake from this location. The chalet had a small kitchen and a coffeemaker, and my only really good memory of this hotel was sitting in front of the huge picture windows, gazing at the volcano and lake drinking a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. The hotel, while a bit off the beaten track and difficult to get to, is on an amazingly beautiful hillside.

Aside from the bug corpses, the room was basically clean, however the mattresses, pillows and linens all had a strong odor of mildew and after the first night we all started popping allergy pills to keep our sinus clear. On the first night, all night long we were awakened by some critter climbing through the ceiling. We inquired at the front desk in the morning and they said bats nest in the roof. We love wildlife and are not squeamish, so the fact that bats were crawling around over our heads didn't freak us out, but we were annoyed by the 3 sleepless nights caused by the constant squeaking and scratching of the bats climbing in and out of the small space between the wood ceiling and the metal roof. We had the worst nights sleep of our entire trip at this hotel due to the mildew smells and the bats. We complained about both during our stay and the woman at the front desk apologized and did all she could, but she said those things must be addressed by the owner, so she had us write it all down to give to the owners. The woman at the tour desk was very helpful and gave great advice for tours. We did zip lines and waterfall rappelling..both were AWESOME. The morning we checked out, the staff even offered to hold our luggage for us at the guard gate the last morning so we didn't risk having it stolen out of our car while we finished touring the area that morning. Having it at the lower guard gate also saved us from having to drive up the crazy road up to the hotel lobby to retrieve it before we continued on our journey to Tamarindo.

We did take a dip in the pool one evening, which is small but pretty and has a great view of the volcano. The free breakfast was meager, the bread was stale and the selection was not overly exciting. We had dinner one night too and it was basic but we felt it a bit overpriced for what we got.

Sadly, at one time this was probably a very nice hotel, but it must have been quite some time ago. The lush "jungle" surrounding the hotel and the view of the volcano and lake are beautiful. The facilities, however, are run down, not well kept and the smell of mold and mildew in the rooms was just too much to get over. The staff were very nice and tried to be helpful, but there is only so much you can do when the hotel you work for is not well maintained by owners/management.

In short of a very long review: The view is great, the staff is nice, but the hotel is slowly becoming a dive. We didn't mind that it was a way out of the main town of Arenal because we had a car, but I highly suggest someone without a car stay closer to town. And, even if you have a car, there are much better options in the area. We visited several of the hotels I had considered before this one was recommend...I wish we had stuck to my original plan.

  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grover, Colorado
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2011

we picked this hotel because of its views of the volcano which were spectacular. unfortunately the service was poor and the food mediocre at best. we stayed in a chalet and on the first day shuttled up to our place as the driveway was steep and a ways a way from the lobby. that was the only time a shuttle was offered to us. we did ask for a ride when it was raining but the battery was dead in the van,so we walked. they offered free horseback riding and a guided tour walk. we signed up for saturday. when we showed us for the hike we were told the guide could not make it and that there would be no horseback riding either. so our days plan was shot. it is quite a way form town and they do not offer any shuttle service into town, make sure you have a car. one last thing, there was a coffee maker in the room but we had to ask for coffee and then there was never any left in the room after we asked.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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washington dc
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed August 1, 2011

I was really dissappointed in this hotel, considering all the nice reviews.

My first and foremost complaint, is that this hotel is SOOOOOO FARRRRRRR from EVERYTHING! Even though I used mapquest to estimate the distance to La fortuna, and it didn't look that bad, the map does not adequately reflect what a windy road this is on top of a mountain. BEWARE: the hotel ride ANYWHERE will cost you at least $35-50 ONE WAY. After a few days, you will be spending hundreds on transportation alone, not to mention about 20 minutes each way. Also, if you are scheduling any kind of package tours not purhcased through the hotel, most will not pick you up or drop you off here!!! Finally, will the hotel is happy to call you a cab, they know that you are so far away, the cabs refuse to go on the meter, and set their own price!

My other biggest gripe was that this hotel sells itself on having great views of arenal up close, what people fail to mention is that the volcano is pretty much always covered with clouds. So not matter how close you are, you will likely never get a full view it!

Lastly - I was not impressed with the quality of this place. While our room was spacious with an entry way, a sitting room, and bedroom, it was badly furnished, and NOT clean. There were several moths and little worms that crept in.

Breaksfast was included, and pretty nice: pancakes, toast, rice and beans, eggs, sausage, fruit, and beverages.

Stayed July 2011, traveled as a couple
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Stephenville, Texas
Top Contributor
140 reviews 140 reviews
30 hotel reviews
Reviews in 50 cities Reviews in 50 cities
114 helpful votes 114 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 25, 2011

Had a nice stay at this old hotel but was saddened by the loss of one of the macaws and missed seeing the coatis. Saw other wildlife and a few friendly faces. The evening meals are good but the breakfast is off a bit. The new breakfast cook tends to rush his eggs. LOL. I think that the pool and jacuzzis should stay open until 11 pm. All in all... one of my favorite places to stay. The staff is friendly and Becky is a lovely hostess.

Room Tip: All the rooms other than the driver and guide rooms are fin with great views of Arenal.
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled on business
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 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.
Alajuela
Top Contributor
56 reviews 56 reviews
11 hotel reviews
Reviews in 25 cities Reviews in 25 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 17, 2011

En route to Arenal Lodge, we spent the day at Baldi Hot Springs. Chatting with a guest there I mentioned that I will be staying at "Arenal Lodge". She said: "Oh! That's where I'm staying too! You go to the guard house and turn left..." (and other directions on how to get there). We followed her directions which led us 6 kilometers up a rugged rocky dirt road to Arenal Observatory Lodge where we breathed a huge sigh of relief to have survived the shaking and rattling all the way up. The receptionist told us that our names were not registered in their system. Then they said: "You probably meant to go to Arenal Lodge, not Arenal Observatory Lodge, we have many arrive here who made the same mistake". (The woman at the hot springs said "Arenal Lodge" but meant to say "Arenal Oservatory Lodge" when she gave us directions). The receptionist called Arenal Lodge and verified that our names were registered in their system, and the receptionist at our hotel repeated that many make the same mistake, not to worry. So we turned around and endured the shaking and rattling another 6 kilometers down the rocky dirt road to the asphalt road and drove across the bridge at the Lake to find the entrance to Arenal Lodge. What we didn't know was the the shaking and rattling had knocked the bolt off supporting the motor of the car, so as we ascended the steep curves of the climb, shifting gears was nearly impossible with the motor movement and the "dangerous curves" signs were not encouraging in the dark (and rain). The sign at the top which says: "Welcome, you made it!" said it all. We stayed in the top chalet and toured the moss covered trail amazed at the state of disrepair and lack of maintenance on the trail and one of our women decided to go back to the room when she saw the "butterfly farm" rather than continue on the trail with us. We found a short cut back and were glad to join her for some hot tea in the chalet. The local Guacamaya named "Stephanie" is not as friendly as her mate who died (they mate for life) but is photogenic. The website says that the horseback riding is free, but when you arrive you find they wanted to charge $20. I showed the website to the receptionist and he said that for us it would be free, but that the guide had the day off (our only day). The guide had the day off and was not available for the trail tour either (it was free so I guess you get what you pay for). As you can see from the photo of the receptionist with a phone in each ear, they need more staff.

Room Tip: The 'green' season has reasonable rates for the chalets (modern architecture - great view)
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  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boulder, Colorado
Contributor
15 reviews 15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 13, 2011

Arenal Lodge offers excellent views of Arenal Volcano from the rooms (at least the junior suites, where we stayed) and from the restaurant. Relative to other hotels in the area this is a bit "far" from La Fortuna, but just a short drive to Tabacon Hot Springs and the Arenal Volcano National Park, the primary reasons we visited the area.

  • Stayed July 2011, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Arenal Lodge

Address: 200 meters NW from the Arenal Lake dam | Escazú, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Arenal Volcano National Park 1250, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > La Fortuna de San Carlos
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Children Activities ( Kid / Family Friendly ) Kitchenette Restaurant Spa Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#14 Spa Hotel in La Fortuna de San Carlos
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:3 star — Arenal Lodge 3*
Number of rooms: 46
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Arenal Lodge provides guests with the excitement of staying in an authentic rainforest lodge with breathtaking panoramic views of Costa Rica’s famous Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Guests will enjoy a casual and relaxed rustic lodge setting with the added value of a complimentary breakfast daily. Located on 2000-acres of beautiful tropical rainforest, the lodge is situated near Arenal Volcano National Park. The lodge is surrounded by rainforest - housing hundreds of exotic birds, small animals and the beautiful tropical flowers and trees of Costa Rica. and is it's own local tourist attraction due to its exclusive location with breathtaking panoramic views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. The lodge features a full service restaurant with local and international cuisine, gift shop, three heated outdoor Jacuzzi's, an infinite edge swimming pool, walking trails, a butterfly garden, horseback riding, a game-room and outdoor playground for children, fitness room, sauna, and free wireless high speed internet access.Guest rooms and suites feature cable TV, telephone, coffee maker, clock radio, and all have private baths. Complimentary crib and wheel chair are available on request. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Arenal Hotel La Fortuna De San Carlos
Arenal Lodge Costa Rica/Arenal Volcano National Park

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