Visiting La Fortuna
The once-sleepy farm town of La Fortuna has about 15,000 year-round residents yet receives over a million visitors a year. It’s also conveniently located about 2.5 hours by car from San José and Liberia (the two biggest airports). If you’re traveling to the Arenal area from San José, you’ll find it easy to combine a trip with other regions in Costa Rica. For example, you can pair Monteverde with Arenal/La Fortuna because of their proximity. Or, to cover a bit more ground, consider adding Tortuguero or the Nicoya Peninsula to your trip.
Once in La Fortuna, your options for excursions are nearly endless. Although just a small area, you can see and do a lot, so how many days you spend in Arenal depends on your interests. Check out our ultimate guide to the Arenal Volcano to decide the ideal way to experience it, or read about the best wildlife excursions in the area. Stay active in Arenal with hikes, waterfall rappelling, or biking, and don’t forget to relax in the hot springs and geothermal pools.
Luxury Lodging in La Fortuna
As you can see, you can easily stay busy while visiting La Fortuna, so many travelers prefer to splurge on luxury accommodations to rest and recharge after long days of activity. Your options include authentic properties with local textiles and tropical hardwoods like teak, mahogany, and Spanish cedar, or newer resorts with more contemporary designs. Some hotels cater to families, while others are more private and better suited to romantics and honeymooners. No matter the style, you can count on Costa Rica for friendly service and down-to-earth authenticity, adding to a relaxing experience.
Additional perks of luxury lodging include private views of the volcano, separate outdoor pools, full-service spas, organic farm-to-table cuisine, onsite trails, and a range of guided tours in Arenal Volcano National Park, which itself is part of the massive 504,094-acre Arenal Conservation Area. Read on for our recommendation of the best luxury hotels in and around La Fortuna.
Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa
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Arenal Kioro Suites & Spa has a priceless vantage point at the base of Arenal. This family-friendly hotel offers 53 spacious rooms equipped with hydromassage tubs, floor-to-ceiling windows, and balconies with views of the lush surroundings (and some with the volcano itself). Though aspects of the decor can feel a touch dated, cleanliness and the resort grounds make up for it. Spread across 27 acres of land and surrounded by two streams (La Palma and Kioro) flowing from Arenal Volcano National Park, the setting exudes peace and tranquility.
You’ll find a set of private thermal areas surrounded by lush gardens for guests to use with several onsite natural pools along with a smaller outdoor pool, plus two restaurants and two bars. There’s also a spa, a game room, and a fitness center to enjoy after an adventurous day of rafting on the Sarapiqui River.
Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa
Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa is a bigger hotel than Kioro, with 102 units tucked inside a private rainforest reserve. Rooms are large and modern, with whirlpool tubs, artwork, and furnishings designed by Costa Rican artisans.
The best part of Tabacón is easily the unlimited access to the property’s 18 onsite highly mineralized hot springs heated underground. Though day-trippers can enjoy the pools, the resort’s expansive grounds are full of countless hidden springs and cascading waterfalls of varying temperatures along the riverbed. Plus, guests receive extended hours of operation that go beyond those of day-trippers and exclusive access to Shangri-La Gardens, an adults-only hideaway.
In addition, the resort’s main sunbathing and swimming area features a pool and swim-up bar. Meanwhile, spa treatments take place in bungalows offering the sight and sound of local flora and fauna. The hotel is the ultimate soothing escape when you return from waterfall rappelling, hiking, or rafting activities. Learn more
The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal
Aptly named for its 28 mineral hot springs, The Springs Resort & Spa at Arenal is an enormous Costa Rican playground of thermal pools, rooms, amenities, and meeting spaces stretching across 165 acres next to the volcano. Attracting a mix of families, couples, celebs, and business travelers, the resort has 74 rooms (and 14 different room types) on the property; the highest tier is villas modeled after Swiss ski chalets and equipped with their own golf carts. All rooms have a rustic-luxe motif with wood, bamboo, and wicker accents, plus big marble bathrooms with jetted tubs. The best part: Each unit has a spacious furnished outdoor space with volcano views, which, on a clear day, is a sight to behold.
Of course, the onsite hot springs are the main draw, with multiple pools ranging from 83 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit situated on a volcano-facing slope surrounded by greenery. You don’t even need to leave the property, thanks to its five bars and five restaurants, including a sports bar, sushi restaurant, and fine dining options. There’s also a 14,000-square-foot fitness center, including a rock-climbing wall and rafting and inner-tubing on the hotel’s private stretch of the class-3 Arenal River.
Additional amenities include horse stables, a wildlife sanctuary with 22 types of animals, and several rainforest trails that lead to hot springs and waterfalls. The spa offers a range of massage and beauty treatments, including a floating water massage and body wraps using therapeutic volcanic clay, as well as a steam room and sauna.
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Not to be confused with its bigger, family-friendly sister property, Nayara Gardens, the luxurious Nayara Springs is a secluded, adults-only boutique hotel surrounded by tropical rainforest. The only drawback here is the lack of volcano views. What you get, though, is the ultimate stay in privacy.
Each of the resort’s individual villas—16 of them—feature a private thermal plunge pool (an anomaly on this list) fed by natural mineral hot springs and romantic, contemporary, and slightly exotic décor in the form of indigenous wood and stone. Expect special touches like four-poster beds, indoor-outdoor showers, and big furnished decks leading to the pools, complete with daybeds, dining areas, and hammocks. The Spring Villas also come with a private concierge who can help arrange laundry service, transportation, and restaurant reservations.
The resort offers a bevy of freebies (such as free minibar items and free international calls) and gadgets (think Bluetooth music players and espresso machines). You’ll also have access to the property next door for excellent dining options, including a charming wine bar and coffee shop, plus the resort’s weekly cocktail party. For a refreshing start to the day, check out the morning yoga classes held in the yoga hut.
On top of luxury, you’ll get a little bit of everything at Amor Arenal. The grounds sit at the base of Arenal Volcano, surrounded by dense rainforest, and the property provides two walking trails through the trees, Serenity Trail and Nanciton Trail. Relax at one of the several onsite natural pools, many offering volcano views, waterfalls, swim-up bars, and drink and food services. Other amenities include a full-service spa with open-air treatment rooms, a yoga hut, and a fitness center overlooking the lush valley. You’ll also have a gourmet restaurant using fresh, organic, and humanely raised products, plus a tapas bar with music, dancing, and crafted cocktails.
But the grounds at Amor Arenal are only one piece of this luxurious puzzle, as the rooms are just as opulent. Each private wooden villa is suspended in the forest and surrounded by the jungle. Each features A-frame ceilings, skylights, air conditioning, smart TVs, luxury bedding, and a complimentary minibar with sangria, kombucha, local beer, and more. Other perks include a wooded deck with views of the valley and volcano, plus individual warm plunge pools and double rain showers.