Arenal, Costa Rica
One of the most striking accommodations in Costa Rica, Arenal Observatory Lodge lies 1.7 miles across a deep river valley from the crater of Arenal Volcano, which was until recently one of the world’s most active volcanoes. Originally built in 1987 as a Smithsonian Institution scientific research station, the lodge was carefully positioned by scientists who needed a close but safe vantage point from which to study the volcano. Still the closest accommodation to the volcano itself, the lodge sits on 870 acres adjacent to Arenal Volcano National Park, which contains 270 acres of primary rain forest with well-marked trails, 400 acres of reforestation projects, and 200 acres of working farmland.
Most of the property's 48 spacious rooms have spectacular volcano views through huge windows. The restaurant and dining room look out on the southern face of the volcano through floor-to-ceiling windows. Meals are memorable, with the lodge's accomplished chef preparing international and Costa Rican cuisine using local fruits, vegetables and farm-raised meats whenever possible. Outside, a large deck offers panoramic views of the volcano and nearby Lake Arenal. After exploring the area, guests can relax in the infinity swimming pool or the sunken Jacuzzi that's covered with a glass gazebo framing Arenal Volcano.