Costa Rica

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Arenal Observatory Lodge

Address: Camino La Fortuna

Neighborhood: Parque Nacional Arenal

City: Arenal

Phone: 011-506-2290-7011

Website: www.arenalobservatorylodge.com

Expert Review

Some 11 miles uphill from La Fortuna, hang a left at Lake Arenal, drive another half-dozen miles along a good, but unpaved, road lined with towering pines, and you’ll come to the Arenal Observatory Lodge. Set on a private nature reserve some 394 feet over the lake, this volcano-side resort is located in a former Smithsonian/Earthwatch research station turned comfortable (though less than sybaritic), with a corrugated green metal roof and a charmingly rustic alpine vibe. If you’re looking to get close to Costa Rica’s lava flows, this is your place. There's an on-premises volcano museum and a fetching, zero-entry, infinity-edge pool with waterfall and Jjacuzzi, via a 134-foot wood-plank bridge suspended over a dramatic forested ravine. The drama continues in many of the 45 rooms, equipped with enormous volcano-facing picture windows and some with terraces; if you want to save some money, go for the original researchers’ quarters, a little woodier, more rustic-feeling, and lacking direct views. All units have tile floors, rustic wood furniture, and walls covered with photos of local eruptions and flora. Aside from the 8-person villa, which has satellite TV, televisions don’t make appearances in any of the rooms (ditto for phones and A/C), so if that sounds terrifying to you it’s best that you look elsewhere. Here it’s all about the volcano. Rates include breakfast and free guided morning hikes.

Tags: moderate

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