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Leaves and Lizards Arenal Volcano Cabin Retreat 3.0

La Fortuna/Arenal, Costa Rica

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Truly secluded, with great views of the volcano and rainforest in most rooms
  • Unique rooms such as the Hobbit Hole, or those themed after local fauna or the volcano
  • A haven for colorful and exotic birds
  • Guests can milk cows and collect eggs for breakfast at the hotel farm
  • Breakfast included
  • Room amenities include mini-fridges, ceiling fans, and coffeemakers
  • Free Wi-Fi (but only available in the dining room)
  • Horse stables and many horseback riding experiences and workshops
  • Hotel can book adventure tours through a La Fortuna-based operator

Cons

  • Long trip over rough roads to reach the hotel (four-wheel drive recommended)
  • Buildings connected by a shared, sometimes steep and slippery road (headlamps recommended at night)
  • No AC or TV in rooms (pro for some)
  • No pool or hot springs
  • Rooms don't include curtains

Bottom Line

This nine-room eco-hotel with a working farm is about as unique as you'll find in the Arenal region. Mid-range rooms range from wood cabins perched over the rainforest to the truly unusual Hobbit Hole, which is like staying in cross between a Tolkien-esque fairytale burrow and the Flintstones' living room. They may not come with modern conveniences such as TV and AC, but they have marvelous views. The hotel is remote (the word "retreat" in the name should be taken quite literally), and requires a long trip (more than a half-hour drive) from La Fortuna over treacherous roads. Finca Luna Nueva Lodge is a slightly cheaper eco-friendly, remote farm hotel, but its rooms aren't as characterful.

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Scene

A quirky and cheery place that's all about bringing guests closer to the rainforest

Cheery and little bit off-the-wall, Leaves and Lizards consists of a series of hilltop buildings along a shared road with a handful of neighbors. The buildings were designed, built, and decorated by one of the owners, native Floridian Steve, and the fun-loving quirkiness and love of the area shows in details like the wooden doors carved with toucans, volcanos, and monkeys. The popular Hobbit Hole room was built into the side of a hill and is just begging to be romped around in by children and children at heart. The dining room (the home of the resident parrot, Lorita) has a fantastic view of the volcano, and, at least during our visit, the nearby feeder drew in more species of birds than we'd seen in the area in a week and a half, including a flock of toucans.

The hotel is one of the most remote options guests can book in the Arenal region; only Finca Luna Nueva Lodge (which also has a working farm) can compare in terms of seclusion. Those who would prefer to be a bit closer to the action might consider the similarly priced Hotel Silencio del Campo and Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa, which offer on-site hot springs and pools (both lacking here) and are nearer to the main road. 

Location

Secluded and deep in the wilderness, and requiring a trek over rocky roads to reach

The hotel is about as secluded as you can get in the touristy Arenal region, and if you really want to get away from it all, this is the place to go. There are three possible routes to reach the property but all involve traveling on at least three kilometers (a little under two miles) of treacherous road -- think loose rocks, major divots, and (on one route) a bridge that washes in the rain. It can sometimes take nearly an hour to reach the property from La Fortuna, depending on conditions (the hotel website says it takes 25 minutes). A four-wheel drive is highly recommended. If the point of your trip is to find seclusion -- and not to shop in town or take day trips around the region -- then this is a great pick. 

Rooms

Off-the-wall, unique rooms that draw you deeper into the rainforest -- or Middle Earth

Almost every room at Leaves and Lizards is unique, and they were built and designed by the owners to draw guests into the atmosphere of the rainforest. Expect carved-wood doors depicting the volcano, monkeys, or toucans, teakwood balconies that thrust out over the trees, and sometimes an outdoor shower or a shower room with a ceiling open to the elements. Rooms are named for their decor theme, and options include the Toucan Room, the Volcano Room, and the Hummingbird Room. The star of the property, however, is the Hobbit Hole, built into the side of a hill, a round den with a large bed, two bunk beds, and a Tolkien-esque aesthetic. Views of the volcano and rainforest are spectacular in all rooms but the Heliconia Room, but curtains, strangely enough, are lacking, so you wake up when the sun does. There are no TVs or air conditioners, but few guests seem to mind. 

Features

Guests can milk cows and collect eggs for breakfast, or saddle up one of the property's 20-odd horses for exploration of the rainforest.

Every morning at 7 a.m., guests are welcome to visit the hotel farm and milk the cow or collect their own eggs for breakfast. The breakfast is included in the rate, and the Lava Lizard also offers truly farm-to-table fare for lunch and dinner -- though guests must make reservations, as the restaurant exclusively serves the guests of the property's nine rooms.  

There are also 20-some horses guests can hire to ride the trails nearby. (The hotel also organizes a number of rides and workshops.) But the main draw here is the feeling of being all alone in the rainforest.

There are no hot springs or pool here -- for that, consider the Hotel Silencio del Campo or Arenal Kioro Suites and Spa.

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Address

Meters South Of Super Kiki 500, La Fortuna de San Carlos, Province of Alajuela 21012, Costa Rica

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