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“Nice setting, clean/ Watch out for scams...” 3 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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Québec
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Nice setting, clean/ Watch out for scams...”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 23, 2009

Suite room was clean, with view towards the Arenal volcano, but was not possible to see it, because of the fog. Saw a peccary on the lawn, below our balcony. Went to the close by Hanging bridges, which was very nice! If you dont have a car or 4x4, call the place itself(Hanging bridges), and they can come pick you up and drive you back, for US$ 12/pax., instead of the US$ 65 that the person at the tour desk inside the hotel wanted to charge us, for a taxi from La Fortuna to the Hanging bridges site and back(and having the taxi wait for you at the entrance of the site itself, while you walk around)... It was another US$ 45 each for the minibus-boat-minibus ride from the Arenal Lodge to Santa Elena, via a bumpy road, for awhile (but what spectacular scenery) once you have crossed Arenal lake. Oh, the taxi ride from La Fortuna to the Arenal lodge was about US$ 25 (about 10 km)... Get into the right taxi (the red ones), and watch out for the scammers at the bus stop in La Fortuna, who promise you a room for the night for US$ 5-7...

  • Liked — clean room, quiet place
  • Disliked — getting old
  • Stayed January 2009, traveled with friends
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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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 (109)
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Chapel Hill, NC
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
13 hotel reviews
Reviews in 15 cities Reviews in 15 cities
28 helpful votes 28 helpful votes
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 2, 2008

I can see why some people would give this hotel a good rating, but unfortunately, I cannot. Despite views and food and everything else, at the heart of it, a hotel is for sleeping, and I can't give any hotel a good rating if I don't get a good night's sleep. We stayed one night at Arenal Lodge in order to see the lava. The hotel itself looked very old and outdated (think 1960's Swiss lodge or something). Our room was large and the deck and view were superb. The bathroom and room itself were outdating looking (wood paneling on the walls and ceiling). There was no fridge but they did have an ice machine. My problem with this hotel is that the sun comes up at 5 am there, and there were no curtains on the sidelights around the door. Therefore our room was ablaze with light by 5:30 am and it was boring holes through my eyelids. I can't sleep with bright sun boring through my eyes. There was no way to rig up a curtain on the windows/door, so I had to build a fort out of pillows and hide behind it to try to sleep. Then starting about 6 am there was an army above us tromping around. Though the hotel was almost empty, they put us in a room right in the heart of the action. I think we were directly under the restaurant, and since the hotel is so old, we could hear every noise. Then at 7 am started construction work!!! RIGHT OUTSIDE our room, they were building a deck and started sanding and hammering wood! At 7 am!!!! We were exhausted, but ended up getting up around 8 because we hadn't been able to sleep a wink since 5 am. The breakfast was ho-hum and the I spilled my coffee and gave up on breakfast when I picked up a sugar packet and ants crawed everywhere.

The hotel is far from everything. The restaurant looked bad, so we ended up driving 25 min back into Fortuna to eat dinner. After you find the turnoff from the main road, it is a good 10 minute drive up this windy bumpy dirt road to get to the hotel.

We stayed at Gran Arenal for 2 nights - right outside of Fortuna. This was much better because we also had a great view of the volcano from our room, but it was QUIET and we were just 2 minutes from all the restaurants and shops in town. We did not see any lava from Arenal Lodge, I think you would need to be more head on at Linda Vista del Norte in order to see lava from your room. We tried Arenal Lodge based on this website:
http://www.arenal.net/arenal-costa-rica-map.htm which shows where the lava currently is. As you can see, Arenal Lodge is just on the edge, and it doesn't cut it. I would highly recommend staying closer to Fortuna and then just driving at night to where the lava is to see it.
I could see how some people liked this hotel if they didn't get stuck with all the noise and actually got to see lava. But we did not have a good experience, and I would definitely not go back. Any hotel that starts sanding and drilling at 7 am right outside someone's hotel room does not know anything about good customer service.

  • Liked — view of the volacano
  • Disliked — NOISY and could not sleep, far from town and all restaurants, old and outdated decor
  • Stayed November 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 1 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 1 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
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Toronto
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 15, 2008

We had confirmed reservations at a different hotel in the La Fortuna area, but were told the evening before our arrival that there was a "miscommunication" and our room was given away -and the hotel was now fully booked. In a panic, we contacted a Costa Rica booking agent who highly recommended this hotel and made all of the arrangements for us VERY last minute. In the end, it was BY FAR one of the highlights of our trip!!! Once we made it through the winding driveway (some may see it as scary, but it's all a part of the adventure! lol), we were thrilled with the ambiance of the hotel and landscaping.
- Our room was a good size with comfortable beds and very efficient air condition, but the highlight was our balcony. It was the width of the room looking out at the volcano, infinity pool, hot tub, and beautiful gardens of the property. First thing in the morning, the staff puts fruit out for the wildlife, and I woke up to a magnificent blue macaw right outside of our room, sitting on a tree branch enjoying a banana. The rooms are decorated with wood and dressed with cute towel art. A safe is provided in every room.
- The restaurant was great! All of our meals were tasty and fresh - especially the breakfast. There was plenty of selection on the menu and during the breakfast buffet.
- There is a very small souvenier store and internet access available. We booked a 4 in 1 tour, which we were picked up and dropped off from the front lobby.
Arenal Lodge is the only hotel on the eruption side of Arenal Volcano and our room had an incredible, completely unobstructed view of it. The volcano erupted several times during the day and throughout the night. What some may not realize is Arenal Volcano is not a molten lava volcano, it erupts rock lava, so during the day it looks and sounds like rocks bouncing down the side with a dust trail. At night, you can see the firey red glow of the lava - amazing!!! Another thing to consider is that the volcano is quite grey and unattractive on the lava side (due to the frequent eruptions), and very lush on the opposite side (with most of the other hotels). So it depends on what you're looking and hoping for.
Overall, we thought the Arenal Lodge was much more down to earth than some of the commercialized hotels and concentrated on displaying the landscape and wildlife more than amenities (which were still great!).

  • Liked — Views of the volcano, surrounding flora and fauna
  • Disliked — An extra 20-25 min drive from downtown La Fortuna
  • Stayed May 2008, traveled with friends
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lytham St Anne's, United Kingdom
Contributor
14 reviews 14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed September 7, 2008

We (2 families) stayed here for 2 nights at the end of July. I hadn't realised how far it was out of La Fortuna and that it had an extremely long drive but when we finally arrived we were pleased with what we found. The staff at reception were friendly and helpful and our rooms (junior suites) were close to the main building. One of the rooms was a lot nicer than the other but both were clean and showers were fine. We didn't spend a lot of time in the rooms but they were comfotable and adequate.
The day we arrived the volcano was completetly obsured by cloud but the following day it had lifted except for some that remained at the top for the rest of our stay. We enjoyed relaxing in the pool and hot tub and sitting on the decking outside the bar and taking in the view. On our final night we spent most of the evening watching red streaks of lava coming down from the volcano.
During our stay we did the butterfly walk in the hotel grounds which was pleasant, the hanging bridges, hot springs,canyoning and ziplining all were between a 15-30 minutes drive from the hotel. We were happy with the position of the hotel but we did have hire cars which made things easier.
The only time we went into La Fortuna was as we were leaving so it didn't matter that we were not close by. Activities are spread out around the area anyway.
We enjoyed the food at the hotel and the restaurant and bar staff were very friendly. Appreciated the free internet access also.
I would give this hotel an average rating for the rooms as they are not luxurious but as we only used them for sleeping and washing we were happy. We give it an above average rating for position, pool, food and friendliness which is more important to us.
My only regret is that we only had 2 nights there as we would have liked to explore the area more.

  • Liked — the views
  • Disliked — the long drive from the entrance
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 3, 2008

This place is very very old. We stayed in a chateu room. The huge glass windows were leaking water into the room (which in itself is not a problem because it's far from the bed but just shows how old it is). The bed and living area is a bit outdated, but its fine and comfortable. The bathroom was outdated, which I can handle, but the shower is the worst I have ever seen. There was a deafening noise when the water was on and the water came out like it was coming out of a very weak hose. It did not spray like rain it kind of just gushed out in a line (hard to explain). Couldnt wash my hair properly.

The main building is very old and outdated also. The roof leaks in the rain. Hotel doesnt even provide umbrellas when it rains. Restaurant food is very average, but we expected this. The food was expensive compared to the restaurant in much much better Xandari Resort (near San Jose, 4 or 5 stars)

But I guess this is all why the price is less! We picked this place because it supposedly has lava views, but we didnt even see the volcano because the cloud cover was so thick. Also, be aware that the hotel is up on a hill and gets covered in clouds too so it is possible that the hotel is covered in clouds but the volcano may be clear.
From Fortuna it is possible to get a cheap minibus trip (around $15 pp) to the observation area to see the lava for an hour. If you dont see lava they take you back the next night for free. We didnt see any, but had to leave the next day. Make sure you check the minibus goes to park observation area rather than just lake arenal. Bumped into a Japanese tourist who was staying at Arenal Observatory Lodge. He said he stayed up all night looking for the clouds to clear to see lava. The clouds didnt clear but he saw lava falling below the cloud level 4 times during the night and each sighting lasted a few seconds. Wish I'd stayed there.

Hotel is very far from anything and there's nothing to do at night - except maybe jacuzzi (but how long can you sit there!). It takes 10 mins + to drive up the steep driveway from the road to the hotel and about 30 minutes to the town. Taxi to Fortuna costs around $20 each way.

Highly recommend the Zip Line tour - it was a highlight. Make sure you use a reputable company because people have died doing this with unreputable suppliers. And don't wear your favourite clothes - when the cable gets wet the grease splatters over your face (close your mouth or it ends up in there), legs and pants! Cano Negro tour was good to see animals.

Overall, if you dont mind a useless shower and old and outdated resort, and prefer to save, then for the price, this place is fine.

We took an Interbus and a Grey line bus to get here from San Jose. But we heard other people do whitewater rafting tours and arrange pick up from san jose, drop off at Arenal or vice versa. had we known this was possible, I would have done this and put the $35pp to better use.

  • Liked — Supposed view. But we didnt see it. Chateu room was very spacious
  • Disliked — the shower. The whole resort was very old. nothing to do there
  • Stayed July 2008, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 2 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 2 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Austin, TX
Senior Contributor
43 reviews 43 reviews
35 hotel reviews
Reviews in 33 cities Reviews in 33 cities
68 helpful votes 68 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 5, 2008

We got a great rate on Arenal Lodge and loved the hotel. It was definitely older (the first built in the area) but the views are amazing. The property is huge and there are many hiking paths to explore. They keep it up nicely. There are lots of beautiful animals to see! (toucans, parrots, hummingbirds, monkeys, etc.) The pool and hottubs were a hit, and the restaurant also had a great view and delicious food.

The lobby was a nice place to lounge (something we don't normally do, but it gets dark at 6pm in Costa Rica) with chess and checkers for the kids, a nice big fireplace, and free internet connection.

The staff was extraordinarily friendly. Miguel, in particular, gave us a beautiful 2 hour tour on horseback around the property at a leisurely pace. He's great with kids and families.

The one thing they don't tell you about Arenal Lodge is that once you get to the entrance, it's another 10 minute curvy drive up a steep hill. It didn't bother us but it would've been nice to know.

  • Liked — view, property, friendly service
  • Disliked — a bit older, so it was a little musty
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Florida
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 2, 2008

We spent 16 days in Costa Rica, and this was absolutely our favorite place. Although not the fanciest place we stayed, the most beautiful views. The room was cozy and comfortable and seemed appropriate for the environment.
I could have spent my entire day on the balcony just looking at the volcano and the wildlife, and the pair of Blue and Gold McCaw's that visited our balcony several times a day.
My 14 year old son, who has been to nearly 20 countries, proclaimed this spot "the best place I've ever been".
It is a bit of a drive up a windy road to the lodge, but it was part of our "adventure" and we rather enjoyed it. It did not stop us from going into town to explore, eat and shop, or take the ATV tour.
We were there in the wet season, which just added to the relaxation for an afternoon siesta. It also made the view of the volcano seem like a cloud forest.
If you want a 5 star resort stay at Tabacon (which we also did), if you want a beautiful relaxing, enjoyable few days, stay at Arenal Lodge!!

  • Liked — Views
  • Stayed June 2008, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Business service (e.g., internet access)
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*
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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