Dangerously slippery sloped concrete paths (hotel promised to address this, and have put up warning signs)
Wi-Fi only in the lobby and restaurant (pro for some)
Some of the rooms are especially dark, even by Costa Rica standards
During our visit, tree houses (on stilts, on trees) weren't available to rent because of "humidity issues"
Harmless lizards and millipedes sometimes creep through the unscreened windows into the rooms
Hot springs only open from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The 24-room, mid-range Hotel Kokoro Arenal is a yoga-friendly, eco-friendly property a 10-minute drive west of La Fortuna. Rooms are dimly lit, rustic bungalows that lack Wi-Fi and might be a tad too open to the elements for the truly squeamish, but they're reasonably clean and comfortable. Those who want a similar budget bungalow-style property a little closer to town may want to look into the El Silencio del Campo or Arenal Volcano Inn, but it will be hard to beat the rates here for this caliber of property.
A mellow array of bungalows under the volcano that, during our visit, was a hub for yoga devotees and North American couples
The hotel, owned by Taiwanese immigrants who moved here from San Jose almost a decade ago, consists of an array of
bungalows set along sloping paths in the rainforest. The laid-back property is roamed
by friendly neighbors' dogs, an early-morning rooster, and the
occasional wild turkey. But the center of life here is the lobby, a large open
octagon with hanging chairs and a yawning bamboo roof that protects
guests from the elements while letting in the sounds of the
rainforest and that patrolling rooster. Later in the day or in the
evening, holistic healers, women in yoga pants, Taiwanese and tico
staff, and young couples lounge on the wicker chairs, chatting or
checking up on Facebook while enjoying the affections of the neighbor's perpetually hungry Boston terrier.
This is a simple, rustic property that allows guests to connect with nature -- so those who mind encountering harmless fauna (such as lizards) should consider a more typical hotel. It's also not the place for those who need constant connectivity, as the rooms lack Wi-Fi. The property spans 15 acres, and about half of that space is preserved as a forested area with trails.
A 10-minute drive to downtown La Fortuna, within the shadow of the volcano, which lies directly south
The hotel lies around the bend and down
the road from a busy stretch of similar-looking hotels in La Fortuna, and avoids much of the fast, noisy traffic of that area.
Once you're off the main road (the colorful but relatively small sign can be easy to miss,
so be prepared to make a quick right if you're coming from La
Fortuna), you have to drive past a small gate and up a
well-maintained road to the hotel itself. (The additional
five-minute drive probably won't make much of a difference to tourists who
want to pop into town for pizza.) Once you're at the hotel, the volcano is your neighbor to the south (the park entrance is a 16-minute drive), but the hotel property is otherwise swallowed up by the rainforest below.
Rooms are attractively rustic with bamboo ceilings, but rather dark; the squeamish may have problems sharing their cabins with lizards and millipedes.
Rooms, many housed in simple, standalone bungalows, are charmingly rustic inside, with high bamboo ceilings and ceiling fans. Several rooms come with views of the volcano to the south, but can be rather dark even by Costa Rica standards. They are decorated to feel natural in the rainforest surrounds, with wood walls, carved wooden furniture, and wood or tile floors. Bedding and pillows are simple and could use an upgrade, as some guests find the beds too hard. Windows aren't screened, so the squeamish (who probably should rethink a trip to the rainforest in any event) may have problems with the tiny lizards and millipedes that crawl in. Bathrooms are simple, with walk-in showers, toiletries, and hairdryers. During our stay the two tree houses (which are actually stilt houses) were not being rented out because of "humidity issues."
Amenities include AC, mini-fridges, and TVs, and all units have outdoor space, usually with at least one chair (some porches, chairs, and views are better than others). The units are all definitely rustic and not rustic-luxe, so guests should come with appropriate expectations. Many enjoy hearing the sounds of the jungle at night (though some may not appreciate the sounds of the rooster in the morning).
Free breakfast, hot springs, a pool, and a hot tub with limited hours
Features include yoga areas and a poolside bar. The restaurant, Casa Bambu, serves local dishes using organic ingredients for breakfast and dinner. Breakfast is included in most rates, and features eggs, pancakes, fruit, and cereals. Excellent free coffee is served all day. A spa palapa for massages and various therapies is located under the trees.
The hot springs had not yet been cleaned and prepped for the high tourist season during our visit, but they include three pools and an artificial waterfall; note that they are only open 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. The rectangular swimming pool has a waterfall feature and is surrounded by slatted wooden loungers and several bistro tables.
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