The Costa Rica Travel Blog is the current traveller, will-be traveller, has-been traveller, and should-be traveller's guide to everything Costa Rica. Information, stories, news, and advice written by the Pura Vida! eh? Inc. team; Costa Rican insiders, outsiders, and everywhere-in-between-siders.

We Are Deciding Between Hotel Tangara In Town Or The Arenal Observatory Lodge. Could You Please Provide Some Pros And Cons To Help Us Decide?

You asked…

We are deciding between Hotel Tangara in town or the Arenal Observatory Lodge. There doesn’t appear a lot in town so we are thinking the rain forest would be cool. We have two kids ages 16 and 14. Could you please provide some pros and cons to help us decide?

We answered…

Of course we can! And, we are so glad you asked, because we have a lot of information to share. 🙂

Honestly, the two accommodation options you have selected are very different; your question certainly warrants some attention to ensure you pick the one that will provide you with the overall experience you are looking to have.

Let’s start with Hotel Tangara since you mentioned it first. This hotel is not located right in downtown La Fortuna, but it is not far from it. You could even walk into town if you wanted to. Essentially, it is located about a 1 minute drive from the city’s center, situated alongside the main highway that runs into and out of town. The accommodations themselves are rustic and reminiscent of most wood, “cabina-type” accommodations offered in La Fortuna. The hotel itself is a relatively new property, and although it offers a volcano-view in the same way that the gigantic beast can be seen from just about anywhere downtown, it does not offer an unobstructed view like many other hotels can (such as most situated along the stretch of highway #142 that runs west of town until Arenal Lake).

In contrast, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is a long-time favourite (and not only because travellers familiar with Pura Vida! eh? Incorporated and the Costa Rica Travel Blog automatically obtain a 20% discount on all room types at the Arenal Observatory Lodge simply by quoting the promotion code noted here when making a direct reservation with the hotel). In design, it is similar to Hotel Tangara in that it radiates a rustic feel, but it is larger and takes on a grander lodge-like persona. There are a variety of room types available and the accommodation offers a multitude of on-site activities (some of which are included in the hotel’s room rate). But, the accommodation’s greatest appeal is its volcano-view, since no other hotel in the region offers one quite like it. Unfortunately, given its prime location near the volcano, this also means that the hotel is one of the furthest out from town. In fact, the Arenal Observatory Lodge is not considered a “La Fortuna hotel” given its distance from the city; instead, it is an “El Castillo hotel”. The good news AND the bad news is that at the hotel you will be far removed (about a 25-minute drive away) from the bustling downtown La Fortuna–it is a great accommodation choice for obtaining some peace and quiet, however a not-so-great accommodation choice for obtaining access to all that La Fortuna has to offer, including tour/activity pick-ups/drop-offs, restaurants, shops, etc.

Between the two hotels you noted an interest in, we would recommend the Arenal Observatory Lodge. However, this is not to suggest that the Arenal Observatory Lodge would be the best accommodation for you and your family over any of the other 80+ accommodation options that call the region home. One of the biggest contributing factors to whether or not the Arenal Observatory Lodge would be best for you is whether or not you plan to rent a vehicle while in Costa Rica. If you do plan to rent a vehicle, then staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge will not be an issue–you can visit the town when you need to throughout the day and simply drive yourselves back to the Lodge in the evening for a natural retreat. Alternatively, if you do not plan to rent a vehicle during your trip, while staying at the Arenal Observatory Lodge is not out of the question, it will be a more expensive option than you have likely budgeted for once taxi fares and tour operator “pick-up” and “drop-off” fees have been factored in according to the number of things you plan to do and see while in the area (on average, tour operators charge anywhere between $40-$60 per tour/activity to include round-trip transportation to/from the Arenal Observatory Lodge in their tour/activity rate).

Pura vida!

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