Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica – Photos & Booking Tips

As the only hotel located in the area within the Arenal Volcano National Park, next to La Fortuna, the Lodge offers a unique and unforgettable experience to those traveling through Costa Rica.

But what makes the Arenal Observatory Lodge so special?

Arenal Observatory Lodge, Costa Rica

An Honest Review

The first thing that caught my attention about the Arenal Observatory Lodge is that it’s only 1.7 miles from the volcano’s base. This blew my mind!

Honestly, I was a little scared and wondered if it wasn’t dangerous. However, after some research, I discovered that I shouldn’t worry about the hotel’s location because the wonderful nature provides the level of protection it needs.

A deep and ever-flowing river, the Río Agua Caliente, separates the Lodge from Costa Rica’s best-known volcano. Plus, this opening in the Earth’s crust has had no eruptions since it entered a resting phase over a decade ago.

Built in 1987, the Lodge was originally a Smithsonian Institute scientific research station. It sits on an 870-acre piece of land, but about 30% of the area encompasses primary rainforest with well-marked trails.

Almost 50% of the area has been used for reforestation projects, while the remaining 200 acres are farmland.

The iconic Arenal Observatory Lodge trails have become an important attraction in the area because they lead to impressive waterfalls and a beautiful, dreamlike handing bridge we can explore with complimentary guided walks. I really loved this!

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Accommodations and Offerings

Accommodations and Offerings

In terms of accommodation, this hotel has four separate buildings with 48 rooms in total. I think they’re all extremely comfortable, and some have huge picture windows that offer breathtaking views of the volcano.

The Arenal Observatory Lodge also welcomes travelers with disabilities, fully equipping five rooms to meet their special needs. Other spaces, including hallways, parking areas, bathrooms, and a new swimming pool, have been adjusted accordingly.

This is one of the things that made me think it’s one of the best accommodation options in this beautiful country.

I’m a huge fan of outdoor experiences, so I wanted to eat something delicious while admiring the beautiful scenery of one of the most amazing places in Costa Rica. Fortunately, this was a dream come true. Whether in the restaurant or the dining room, I had a perfect view of the volcano’s southern face.

The best part? This hotel’s restaurant offers international and Costa Rican meals that talented chefs prepare using local fruits, vegetables, and meat products when possible. All the dishes I tried were delicious!

Plus, there’s a large deck that offers panoramic views of Arenal Lake right next to the impressive volcano. I took many beautiful photos there!

However, that’s not all. After a long day of exploring, I had two options to relax: the infinity swimming pool or the sunken jacuzzi. Although I loved both, I think the jacuzzi offers the best experience because it’s covered with a glass gazebo that provides an excellent view of the Arenal Volcano.

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More Details About the Arenal Observatory Lodge

Details About the Arenal Observatory Lodge

With 3 out of 3 stars, the Arenal Observatory Lodge has the highest possible ranking awarded by the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) to a mountain lodge. Also, it’s considered highly sustainable, falling into the 4 BAND Eco-lodge (out of 5) category.

Arenal Lodge Facilities

  • An infinity swimming pool
  • Hiking trails
  • A restaurant
  • A bar
  • Beautiful gardens
  • A jacuzzi


  • Private bathroom
  • Dining room
  • Impressive volcano views
  • Private balcony
  • Coffee maker
  • Kitchen
  • Living room
  • Hot water
  • Satellite TV
  • Mini fridge
  • Full buffet breakfast
  • Safe deposit box in all rooms

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  • The White Hawk Villa: Recommended for large groups, such as friends or families, this villa has two bedrooms with a queen-size bed and two twin beds each to accommodate up to eight people. There’s also a private hot water bathroom.
  • La Casona rooms: Ideal for budget travelers, four of these rooms have a queen-size bed and offer views of the volcano. The fifth room of this group has three bunk beds and allows guests to admire the rainforest. All of them include access to a shared terrace and shared bathrooms.
  • Standard rooms: Besides two queen-size beds, these rooms have a cozy private balcony.
  • Junior suites: Located near the main lodge, these rooms feature two king-size beds and include a coffee maker and a mini refrigerator. There’s also a small living room and a large picture window.
  • Smithsonian rooms: With a terrace, huge windows, a private hot water bathroom, a coffee maker, and two queen-size beds, these rooms are extremely comfortable. Five of them can accommodate guests in wheelchairs.
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Peter is a digital nomad who largely writes from Asia, Europe, and South America. Always following the "vibe," he sets up shop in hostels and AirBNB's and continues to entertain us with wild stories from life abroad. Ask him anything in our community forum.

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