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Arenal Observatory Lodge (Arenal - Costa Rica)

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You came to Costa Rica to experience its rainforest, volcanoes, and nature. Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa gives you access to of this in one extraordinary location. There are 870 acres on our property to explore, including 270 acres of natural primary rainforest with rivers and waterfalls, 400 acres of reforested land and tropical gardens, and 200 acres of pastureland. Our gardens and landscaping are extravagantly designed with colorful flowering plants, shrubs, and trees chosen to attract wildlife, like jewel-toned hummingbirds, brilliant butterflies, and exotic birds.

Unlike other hotels in La Fortuna, Costa Rica, we are the only hotel located within the Arenal Volcano National Park. When the national park was formed in November 1991, its boundaries encompassed our ranch. No other hotel is as close to the Arenal Volcano, Cerro Chato, and Lake Arenal as we are. While on the property you can always feel the volcano’s commanding presence.

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa was originally built in 1987 as a scientific research station for the world-famous Smithsonian Institution. After Arenal Volcano’s sudden and dramatic explosion into life in 1968, Smithsonian Institution scientists began frequenting the area and would camp on our family’s land because of its strategic location. We built cabins and a small hotel to take care of them and expanded over the years.

Our Lodge

Considered one of the best places to stay in the Arenal area, the historic Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa offers 48 comfortable hotel rooms in various buildings spread over the property, and two unique Costa Rican vacation home rentals. Five rooms are fully equipped for disabled travelers, with rooms, bathrooms, hallways, parking areas, and even the new swimming pool designed accordingly. Enjoy delicious meals in our lodge restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows for gazing at the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, and a huge observation deck just outside. Our Observatory Spa will help you relax with massages and other body therapies.

We are a sustainable eco-lodge with a rating of Four Leaves in the Certification for Sustainable Tourism Program (CST) by the Costa Rican Tourism Board. Additionally, Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa consistently wins TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence award every year and is a proud member of its Green Leaders program.

What is there to do ?

Your stay with us at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa includes daily complimentary walks in our gardens and the rainforest with our naturalist guides. On our 870-acre property, you can explore 11 kilometers (7 miles) of well-maintained trails – hiking, horseback riding or mountain biking. An 800-meter (0.5 mile) paved trail allows universal access to explore the gardens and rainforest. For the adventurous, experience our rugged River Trail through the primary rainforest. Additionally, Arenal Observatory Lodge is a preferred destination for bird watching in Costa Rica, with more than 500 species of birds noted so far in our forest.

Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa is easily accessible from the nearby town of La Fortuna. Our lodge is well located to enjoy the many adventure tours in Arenal, such as zip lines, whitewater rafting, hot springs, kayaking, stand up paddleboarding, fishing on Lake Arenal, etc.

Facilities at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa

  • Arenal Observatory Restaurant & Bar
  • Large observation sun deck for viewing Arenal Volcano, Lake Arenal and the rainforest
  • Observatory Spa
  • Spacious reception area & lobby living room with a guest computer for internet access, cable TV, phone cabin for local and international calls, souvenir shop, and a tour desk
  • Swimming pool & Jacuzzi
  • 800-meter (0.5 mile) paved universal access trail through the gardens and rainforest
  • Eleven kilometers (7 miles) of well-maintained trails for hiking, bird watching, horseback riding & mountain biking (trail maps available at the hotel reception)
  • Free access to the observation tower “The Nest
  • Hanging bridges and waterfalls
  • Beautiful gardens and viewpoints of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal
  • A List of Birds at Arenal Observatory Lodge and the surrounding area is available at the hotel reception
  • Arenal Observatory Museum contains information and photos illustrating the history of Arenal Volcano
  • Private gated entrance and 24-hour security

Our rooms

Junior Suite

The Junior Suite rooms at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa are located near the restaurant, these spacious rooms have a spectacular view of the Arenal Volcano and a beautiful view of Lake Arenal from a terrace. For your comfort, each room has two King beds, a small room, safe, coffee maker, and a small refrigerator.

Ceramic paintings made by a local artist decorating the walls illustrating the flora and fauna of the Arenal area.


The Smithsonian Rooms at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa are named after the U.S. Smithsonian Institution scientists who began coming to the area in the 1970s to study the Arenal Volcano. Our lodge was originally built to accommodate the groups of scientists, students and occasional tourists who visited Arenal and La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Our Smithsonian Rooms are located either in the main hotel building, by the hotel restaurant or near the swimming pool area. They all showcase huge picture windows which frame the majestic Arenal Volcano and the beautiful rainforest and gardens. Smithsonian Rooms have two queen-sized beds (4 rooms have one king-sized bed), a private bathroom, a private deck, a coffeemaker, and a room safe. Five rooms are fully equipped for disabled guests with wheelchair access.


Spacious and comfortable Standard Rooms at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa all feature two queen-sized beds, a private bathroom, a coffeemaker, a room safe, sitting chairs and a writing table. Some Standard Rooms are located in the main hotel building and overlook the gorgeous Costa Rican rainforest or the impressive Arenal Volcano from their private balconies, while others are located 500 meters (0.3 miles) from the main hotel building, down a moderate slope, and feature terraces with striking views of Lake Arenal.

La Casona
Budget travelers will find five comfortable rooms in La Casona, our original family farmhouse and an ideal place for groups or individual travelers. Four of the rooms have one queen-sized bed with partial views of the Arenal Volcano; the fifth room has two queen beds and a bunk bed, with views of Lake Arenal. La Casona is located about 500 meters (0.3 miles) from the main hotel building down a moderate slope. The five rooms share two full bathrooms and a large common sitting room, as well as a spacious front porch overlooking the Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal.

White Hawk Villa

The White Hawk Villa is one of our Costa Rican vacation home rentals. With its peaceful surroundings in the rainforest and spectacular views of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal, White Hawk Villa is an excellent choice for guests traveling with family or friends or those who simply want the utmost in privacy.

White Hawk Villa is located about 1.1 km (0.7 miles) from the hotel Reception, near some of our hiking trails. It is recommended that guests have their own transportation, or enjoy long walks, to stay here. However, you can arrange a shuttle to and from reception for when you want to skip the walk.

The main level entrance leads into a well-ventilated living room with huge picture windows, a “wall-to-wall” balcony, a dining room, a fully-equipped kitchen, a satellite television, and a full bathroom. From the balcony, you have dramatic panoramic vistas of Arenal Volcano and Lake Arenal. Downstairs on the lower level, two bedrooms each have one king-sized bed, one twin bed, and one single hideaway bed, accommodating eight persons in total. Each room has its own private bathroom and a room safe.

Phil's Villa

Phil’s Villa is a magnificent Costa Rican vacation home rental at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, located about 800 meters (0.5 miles) from the hotel’s reception. It is recommended that guests have their own transportation, or enjoy long walks, to stay here. However, shuttle transportation can be arranged for when you want to skip the walk.

“Phil’s Villa” is named in memory of Phillip Slosberg, a longtime guest at Arenal Observatory Lodge & Spa, who built this house and lived here with his wife, Jeanie, from 2008 to 2011. Read more about the history of Phil’s Villa here.

Modern and spacious with refined touches and colorful local artwork, Phil’s Villa is surrounded by the splendor of the tropical forest with panoramic views of the Arenal Volcano from a large balcony and terrace.

Phil’s Villa can accommodate up to 10 people and is recommended for families or groups traveling together. The two-story villa has a roomy open living area with a fireplace and satellite television, a dining area, large fully-equipped kitchen, and three spacious bedrooms each with their own private bathrooms and safe boxes. Two bedrooms have two king beds each, and the third bedroom comes with one king bed

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