My wife and father-in-law were traveling in Costa Rica and staying at a B&B near Manuel Antonio when one of the other lodgers recommended this hotel. The woman was a corporate travel planner and had been around the world and couldn't stop raving about the place. A few hours later, we were at the doorstep of the Arenal Lodge and booked a 2 night stay, sipping the complimentary drink received upon check in that is customary in Costa Rica.
We got a deal on the room and settled in for the night. The rooms are fine. I'm not sure what other people wanted to get. This is Costa Rica, not New York, and certain expectations need to be reset. I found the wood paneling and manual key entries charming, a throwback to the rustic cabin life of not too long ago. There was a patio set on the deck overlooking (what would be) the volcano, the pool, and the restaurant deck, complete with a swinging chair. We sat out there with our drinks and books for a couple hours each night listening to the rain and the frogs. Other rooms were up on the hill with (what would be) spectacular views of the volcano and the lake.
It's hard to say, though, if we would've stayed here if it was easier to leave. The hotel is 15 minutes past the last hotel in La Fortuna and another 5-10 minutes (depending on the road condition and weather) up the stone road that winds its way around the mountain. If you aren't comfortable with your manual transmission, this isn't the place to learn. The math boils down to about 45 minutes round trip to town and back. This factored into a decision not to get dinner in town. After a day at the Baldi Hot Springs, we thought we'd go into town for dinner, but it rained so terribly that we decided to head back to the hotel instead so as not to get stuck in the downpour. If we were at a closer hotel, we would've gone out for the night.
So therein lies the tradeoff. The hotel itself is self-sufficient in every way. You don't have to leave it. Unless you want to. And then it's hard to do so. So, if you're looking for what amounts to an all-inclusive room (it's not really as everything is extra except for breakfast) this will be good for you. If you want to be closer to the action, you might want to consider something in town or at least closer to town. You may also notice throughout this review I have (what would be) in parenthesis. It rained all 3 days we were there and our only glimpse of Arenal was about 10 minutes where we could see 1/3 up the side of the mountain. Add that Arenal itself is now dormant as of 2010, and the rumbling, magma-dribbling, smoke hurling sights are no longer there. I don't think that changes the view of the hotel or even the area, but it is something to consider before heading all this way.
- 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