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“We loved it” 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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Bellevue, Washington
1 review
“We loved it”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2013

This Lodge sits on a 1000 acre working ranch. The view from our chalet of Mt Arenal was one of the best hotel views we have ever experienced. We were there three days, which seems to be the norm among other reviewers. The area is too remote for a day trip from the bigger cities. Miguel does a great job on the hike and horse back riding tour. Horses are geared for neophyte riders like us so don't expect galloping steeds. We saw lots of wild life that you just don't see outside of a zoo in the US. The roads are not as bad as some reported but they are two lane and you do need to heed safety precautions more than at home. I would not drive at night. We also did the hot springs and zip lines which are not on the property. We would go back too see water fall near Fortuna and the hanging bridges near the lodge.

Room Tip: We got a chalet and I do believe you would be happy to upgrade to this level. That is for the view...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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.
Victoria F, Owner at Arenal Lodge, responded to this review, June 3, 2013
Hi Ben! Indeed, the Lodge is smack in the middle of a 2000+ acre property that my family had as a macadamia nut farm in the 90's (Tip: there are several macadamia trees that are still producing fruit around the chalets and raw macadamia nuts taste like coconut! Yum!) and now whatever isn't rainforest serves as pasture for organically raised cattle. Glad you enjoyed your stay!
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455 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 (111)
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English first
Contributor
18 reviews 18 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 12, 2013 via mobile

Overall, I would recommend this hotel to others even though it is not close to the main city.

The main reason is that it has ample land for horseback riding and one of a kind walking tour that you could not experience otherwise.

It is also quite a trip to go up the mountain up to main entrance. We would not want to drive that at night as it is very bumpy.

Great food at the restaurant, there is a small infinity pool and 2 hot tubs. The room was slightly outdated and water temp/pressure was not that great.

Overall, still very enjoyable and would recommend just for the walking tour and horseback tour and food.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Danbury, Connecticut
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 6, 2013

BEST: THE VIEW. We spent the first 3 nights of our Costa Rican vacation at this hotel and loved every minute. We stayed in one of the chalets on top of the hill, which is really a must. The view is unbelievable - volcano and surrounding lake. Really cant get that view from any other room style. Based on the view alone, I would absolutely come back to this hotel.

The restaurant: not great. Of the 3 days we were there, we didn't see a single other person eating lunch or dinner. They have a good breakfast included though - orange juice, fruit plate, and either traditional costa rican food, american breakfast, or pancakes.

Other things: Free walking tour on the grounds of the hotel is great. Getting to La Fortuna is a 30 dollar cab ride there and 30 dollar cab ride back. So what we did is go on one of the tours (water safari, for example) during the afternoon and then have them drop us off in La Fortuna for dinner, and then we only had to pay for the cab fare home at the end of the night. Also be prepared for the birds to wake you up at around 6am.

Room Tip: Chalet rooms on top of the hill have the best view by far, but remember, you have to walk up the hil...
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  • Stayed May 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 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.
Wisconsin
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 19 cities Reviews in 19 cities
27 helpful votes 27 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 30, 2013

We stayed here for three nights. The property is beautiful and offers stunning views of the volcano. Our room offered a refrigerator, microwave and air conditioning though the nights were cool enough it was not needed.
The room was perfectly sufficient for a mid price hotel. Two chairs outside the door were a nice touch. The pool was cool but not bad. Our son swam alot without complaint. Food and drink at the onsite restaurant was decent and moderately priced. Do not miss the free nature hike with Miguel. This was a very informative and fun hike for our family. We saw wildlife we would have walked right by if not for Miguel. Horseback riding was alsp available but we ran out of time. This is a cool place that is definitely worth a stay if in the La Fortuna area.

  • Stayed April 2013
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
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Colorado
Contributor
12 reviews 12 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
70 helpful votes 70 helpful votes
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 23, 2013

I have mixed feelings about Arenal Lodge. It has a few GREAT characteristics yet they quickly get overshadowed by the icky. I am glad we stayed thee but was VERY ready to leave. I think a one-night stay would have been perfect.

THE GREAT: The setting is worth its weight in coconuts. You are in a jungle overlooking a volcano. Wildlife abounds. We saw wild macaws, toucans, a sloth, a havalina, a coati, and fresh scratches on a tree from a puma. You awake every morning to the songs of howler monkeys and exquisite birds, and you are lulled to sleep every night to the a chirping jungle. The grounds are absolutely beautiful, and the infinity pool disappears into the volcano. I even enjoyed the driveway...hahahah. Yes, it is 10 minutes to climb it, and yes, it is a steep, cobblestone winding road, but it is 2-wheel drivable and it is part of the experience. By far, however, the best part of the hotel is Migeul, the guide and naturalist, who leads the horseback rides and hikes. Miguel is phenomenal. He was so patient and knowledgeable, and truly loved his job and his environment. Five stars for Miguel and the location.

THE OK: The pool was lovely but cold, too cold to swim. We live in the Colorado mountains with nine months of winter, so when I say it is cold, it is cold;). My kids couldn't stay in for more than a few minutes at a time. It was cloudy all three days we were there so maybe the water dropped a few degrees in temperature? All I know is that my kids were disappointed. It wouldn't have been bad if we could jump in the hot tubs, but they were cold, too. The hotel will turn up the hot tubs for you if you ask (which we did every day), but it seems silly to sit around in your swimsuit waiting for water to heat up (watched pot :)). I don't understand why they don't just keep them hot, or at least turn them up in the evening when so many people are wanting to soak. The other OK was the food. It was food but nothing memorable. We were there three days and it was the same breakfast every morning: scrambled eggs, potatoes, rice, beans, fruit, toast, and pancakes, buffet style. Dinner was expensive: pasta, sea bass, chicken, tico rice, and sandwiches. We ate dinner there twice out of convenience but made the effort to drive the 40-60 minutes round-trip on the third day to get a better dinner (I am glad we did). Overall, I think the food and pool/hot tub situation could be easily rectified.

THE ICKY: Our room (Rm 23) was supposedly a Superior Room (upgrade) but it was grungy and rundown. I don't mind "lodgey" (and the rooms were lodgey with dark floors, wood paneling, and dim lighting) but I have a hard time with leaking plumbing, a dirty couch, creaky old beds, and crumbling chairs. It reminded me of a college fraternity house, with stained couches and garage sale furniture. I am by no means a clean freak, but I assure you that my skin never touched the bedspread. Also, we were on the bottom floor, right next to the bar/pool table, so it could get noisy; plus, the restaurant deck and foliage blocked our view of the volcano and made it especially dark:(. Most annoying was that a key was broken off in our poolside door, so we couldn't really use it to come and go. As you can tell, I wouldn't recommend this room. Finally, to the service....ours was bad. I know many folks rave about the great service in their reviews, but our experience was different. Never was our restaurant/bar service friendly or fast. In fact, at times I felt like I was imposing when I asked for something. I witnessed most guests refilling their own coffees at breakfast, and it took effort every night to locate the bartender to get a drink. There were very few guests when we were there, so maybe it is better when it is busier.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR A GOOD STAY: Don't stay in room 23 :). Buy water and snacks before getting to the hotel (it is $3 for a small water at the hotel and the onsite "snack store" is expensive). Fill your gas tank in La Fortuna or Neuvo Arenal (30 min each in either direction). Take your time on the driveway and enjoy the drive. Ask in advance to turn up the hot tubs; they are a lovely way to spend the evening watching wildlife. Don't count on the Kids Room, Fitness Room, and Internet Room...they exist but are nothing more than dark closets. Definitely do the horseback ride and the hike with Miguel!

Overall, I enjoyed my experience, but can only recommend this place with lots of caveats.

Room Tip: Don't stay in room 23. It is next to the bar, so it is noisy and the deck/foliage block your vie...
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 2 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 11 cities Reviews in 11 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2013

We stayed 6 days in Costa Rica and decided not to change locations. We booked the Arenal Lodge for those 6 days and have not regreted it for one second. Yes, the road up is a bit bumpy and takes about 8 minutes, but it is well worth the drive. We were there in April during dry season and had no problem driving up in our Hyndai Sedan. During rainy season a 4-wheel drive might be a good idea though.

We stayed in one of their Junior Suites and had a fantastic view. You won't find air conditioning but they have several windows that create a nice draft. It was always comfortable in the room. Some people complained that clothes won't dry, which should not be a surprise since you are in the rain forest. Humidity is high. The hotel offered that we can throw our shoes and clothes in their dryer.

The breakfast was excellent. Go with the typical one during the week. On weekends, when it is more crowded, they offer a breakfast buffet.

They also offer a free walking tour with guide, which can not be missed. Only complaint for me was the bed, which was a bit too hard for my taste.

I definitely recommend this place!

Room Tip: Junior rooms are great and the chalets look fantastic as well.
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  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ogden, Utah
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
8 hotel reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 21, 2013

A beautiful, easy 3.5 hour drive from the airport (via San Ramon) on roads that were in great shape. Based on all the reviews we read we tried to upgrade our compact to a small 4-wheel drive, but they didn't have one available...and that ended up being OK (even for the long, steep and in places rough) driveway to the lodge from the highway.

We booked a standard room, but got a free up-grade to a Junior Suite that was not "luxurious" but was clean, comfortable, and fully outfitted with everything we needed. Expect to be awaken early by an amazing symphony of bird songs (that began about 4:45). The first night we left our windows open and it was REALLY loud. Closing the windows lessens the volume, but earplugs are necessary if you really don't want to hear the chorus. We enjoyed waking up with the birds so just dampened the volume by shutting the windows.

The staff at Arenal Lodge made our stay memorable. The highlights of our 3 day stay centered around the activities on the property lead by "Miguel." We did a nature hike with him (8:15 am most days) that was fascinating as he interpreted the natural and cultural history of the area. We saw lots of interesting wildlife (e.g., howler monkeys, birds, insects, and a couple of posionous snakes) on the hike. The 2-3 hour hike was well worth the investment of our time. We also enjoyed a horseback ride that he led. They purposely keep the group size small on the horseback rides so there is a pretty good chance that your group will have a "private tour." Miguel made sure that my wife who is afraid of horses and hasn't riden much had a really gentle horse. She wasn't sure she was up to the trip, but ended up really enjoying it as we got out to see more wildlife (including a sloth, and a really large non-posionous snake) and learn more about the area and Miguel's life. Trips offered by local tour operators are relatively expensive, so if you are on a budget take advantage of these free offerings from Arenal Lodge...and give Miguel a nice tip!

We too found the food at the Lodge resturant to be good. They have a diverse dinner menu. The food was prepared and presented well. The prices are about what you'd expect to pay in the US for comparable food...and not so different from what you will find eating out in most places in La Fortuna. A buffet breakfast was included with our package. Make to order omeletes (make sure you specify how many eggs you want or you will end up with a huge omelete), and a variety of breads, hot dishes (vegetables, always rice and beans, etc...) cereal, pancakes, fresh fruit and juices make for a nice start to the day. There is some variety to what is offered each day. If you can, get a table next to the back window where you can watch birds come into feeders. We brought our binoculars to breakfast each day to enjoy the amazing show!

The maids did a great job with the rooms -- everyday arranging our clean towels in creative animal shapes. We've seen a lot of that in our travels, but not as creative as we saw at Arenal Lodge.

There is free wifi in the main lodge (reception/front desk and resturant areas) that made it convenient to keep in touch. If you don't want to haul your laptop or tablet or smart phone with you there are also a couple of personal computers available for your free use. I found the internet connection to be pretty slow so don't count on being able to download large documents/pictures, etc...

Others have commented on how remote this Lodge is. They are right. It's about a 20-25 minute drive into La Fortuna where there are a ton of resturants, banks, etc... That said, the remoteness was part of what we most appreciated about Arenal Lodge -- quiet, peaceful and not over-run with tourist activity.

The only other tip I would offer is to bring a small flashlight to help you navigate the property at night. The walkways and stairs are poorly lit on a property that is rather large and spread out.

In terms of area activities that we particularly enjoyed: the Butterfly Conservatory in El Castillio and the hike into Fortuna Falls were both fantastic. Finding the road to the trail-head to Fortuna Falls was a challenge...but worth figuring out. (Once you get to the falls most folks hang out around the plunge pool immediately below the falls, but there are better swimming holes and privacy just downstream.) The best deal on good food in La Fortuna is at Soda La Parado which sits on the main drag in town across from Parque Central. They have a large and diverse menu -- we had everything from traditional food to Pizza and it was all excellent.

We spent the first half our visit to Costa Rica in the Arenal Volcano area and the second half on the Pacific Coast -- two totally different experiences. We most enjoyed our time at Arenal Lodge!

  • Stayed April 2013, 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
    • 4 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.
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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:
#12 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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