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“Oasis in the Best Location”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 62 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 26 December 2010

We frequently travel out of the San Jose airport and use Pura Vida as our home away from home. Berni and Nhi are wonderful hosts who are able to anticipate our every need to make the most out of our time in the city. They care about their guests and customer service is top notch. The food...well... too bad the general public doesn't have the option of eating there...it is outstanding!

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Debbie L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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489 - 495 of 768 reviews

Reviewed 13 December 2010

Stayed here a night with the boyfriend. In short, GREAT personable owners who we immediately got along with upon our arrival. Berni and Nhi were awesome, and the establishment was clean, had great, large rooms, and a delicious fruit and bread free breakfast that was amazing. Would definitely recommend to anyone, whether a solo traveler or in a group. It was peaceful, beautiful, and charming bed and breakfast with much more personality than any chain hotel out there in the area. Go!

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank Leia T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 December 2010

In october I visited my girlfriend in the hills above San Isidro. She's been living there for the better part of the past year teaching English at Escuela Buena Vista. We needed a place to stay the night before my return flight to New York and all things un-Tico. Leia found Pura Vida's website and said we should give it a shot. As is the case with most of her recommendations, she was spot on. The grounds were gorgeous, sloping down a small hill dotted with plants and trees of many varieties. The buildings themselves were well maintained and the rooms beautifully appointed and clean. Bernie directed us towards a great restaurant for dinner that night, "we have 50 bad restaurants in town, and 2 good ones, and one of those is closed." The next morning his super nice wife Nhi prepared us the best breakfast we've had in quite some time. Fresh fruit juice smoothies, incredibly fresh coffee, and most importantly, the most insanely delicious bread pudding in the northern hemisphere. Bernie even joined us for a bit and filled us in on some of the idiosyncrasies of the Costa Rican bureaucracy.

We had simple expectations for the night: a quiet place to spend our last night together and hopefully some bread and orange juice in the morning. Bernie, Nhi, and the Pura Vida Hotel surpassed these expectations with ease. I can't recommend the Pura Vida enough, go!

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Dustin S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 24 November 2010

(Title borrows a quote from the hotel website). This is a great place to start a Costa Rica trip, especially if it's your first visit and you don't have your act entirely together. They pay for the hotel pickup, as a bonus, and almost any rental car company will deliver to the hotel (recommend doing this). If there is any doubt if this is the right place for you, just check the hotel's excellent website, www.puravidahotel.com.

The two biggest reasons for staying here are Bernie and Nhi (and maybe Maxie makes #3). The eternally patient and ironic Bernie will answer endless email questions and set you up with a rental car, maps, touring suggestions, and even a starter amount of colones. Best to request all special assistance in advance especially if leaving the next morning. Nhi's dinners are the best food I ate in CR.. It's like having your own private chef who will cater to your dietary needs. I felt like Oprah for a day. The included breakfast caters to fruit lovers (you can add eggs etc for a small charge).

I stayed in the Volcano Room, which has two double/queen (?) beds, a little balcony , and the bathroom has a separate door for the john, two sinks and a long counter. There's a little refrigerator, coffee maker, telephone and safe box. A great room for one to four people. It's up a few stairs and as mentioned has a great view but also catches some street noise (hence the downgrade one star for sleep quality). For those especially noise sensitve, and unable to sleep with earplugs, beware of this. On the other hand, this might have been the only hotel in CR where I did not experience ant invasions.

The garden is fabulous, replete with the golden orb spiders, orchids, culinary things and the ayahuasca vine Bernie didn't realize he was growing. Two German Shepherds may entertain with fights over "the bone". There is a free guest computer and a library with all the guidebooks about Costa Rica every written (as well as both bird guides).

Location is conveniently at the base of the road to Poas Volcano and the Doka coffee tour. Be sure to get good directions if driving to the latter. On the way out, I followed a car with GPS and had a nice tour of the coffee plantation roads. They may still be driving around up in the fields. I used the "estoy perdido, donde esta method" and had a 5-minute lecture from the beneficio's guard which included something about not allowed this time of year but ended with the unlocking of the main gate to the highway.

If you have bit of time and a car I recommend a visit to the Ark Herb Farm (if you just want to wander you don't need a reservation or admission fee). Many plants on the trails are labeled and if it's sunny you will not feel a need to visit a mariposario. As far as restaurants in Alajuela I did like Princesa Marina...HUGE portions be warned!

www.arkherbfarm.com
www.princesamarina.com

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled solo
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1  Thank mlgb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 November 2010

We used the Pura Vida hotel as a great starting and ending base for our 9 day Costa Rica trip. We stayed in the Volcano room and it had the highest room view overlooking the garden. Although we could hear the traffic from the road our hosts provided us with ear plugs; which I gladly used.

The two dogs Max & Jackie were very friendly. In fact all the personnel that we met were very nice. We took advantage of having the 3 course gourmet dinner on both nights we were there. The food that Nhi prepares is amazing. The first night she made a pineapple creation with greens, shrimp pasta with asparagus and for dessert coconut, coconut & coconut. On our return night she made a Gazpacho soup with garnish, Moroccan chicken with rice and those famous blackberry éclairs.

Like everyone has mentioned the breakfast was amazing. I’m missing all the great fruit, smoothies and yogurt with granola as I write this review.

Berni provided us with a lot of valuable travel tips while traveling the country. Rebeca was great in assisting us with translating English to Spanish when we had some questions with our car rental agency.

If and when we come back to Costa Rica we plan on staying here again. Pura Vida!!!!!

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank kcrum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 17 November 2010

This hotel is extremely well managed...Berni and Nhi have thought of everything! They'll help arrange airport transportation, car rentals, tours, market trips and even school visits!
We had learned on the Pura Vida Hotel website that a local school was in need of books and school supplies and felt that this was a great thing to support. We solicited one of our kid's classes to help us collect items and through Berni, organized a trip to a local elementary school called Centro Educativo Tuetal Sur. It was one of the highlights of our trip. It was a great way to learn about Costa Rica while helping the local children. We only wish we could have brought more. The fact that the Pura Vida Hotel is so active in their community is telling in itself...this is more than just a place to stay!
However, if you a looking for just a place to stay, it's that too. We stayed in the Katydid Casita (with our family of 5) which was clean, comfortable and spacious. The grounds are safe, secure and beautifully maintained! If you stay, you must have dinner there; Nhi is an incredible chef!

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled with family
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Thank tellfam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 October 2010

Northwest of the main airport of San Jose, Costa Rica, is this small, elegent and accomodating lodging. Bernie, the British/American owner, met us at the lovely gated door, of his (and his wife's) truly charming and beautiful small hotel. We had the pleasure of staying in a lovely casita (house), that was 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, with an outdoor kitchen on a new, beautiful patio. The entire property is on a hillside, facing the Poas Volcanoe. There are just a few casitas, and a couple of rooms in the main building. It is a very charming, intimate setting. I had called the night before, requesting dinner for our group of four, and it was outstanding - served by Bernie, who has a pretty entertaining sense of humor. We will go back, and stay longer.

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank rokubanlu
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Pura Vida Hotel

Address: Tuetal Sur | 4km North of SJO International Airport, Alajuela 20102, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Alajuela
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 62 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range: $108 - $208 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 6
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Pura Vida Hotel is located 4km north of the SJO International airport - we provide a free taxi pickup for international arrivals. Breakfast is included and an excellent dinner is available with reservations (or late meals for late arrivals). Touring services include car rentals delivered here, private vans and as much touring advice as you wish - we are experts on Costa Rica. We have arrangements with Toyota Car Rental for deals on car rentals. Our idea is simply that this is a place we would like to stay at when we travel. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Pura Vida Alajuela
Hotel Pura Vida
Pura Vida Hotel Costa Rica/Alajuela

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