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“wish we had more time!” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
1500 meters north of the Fabrica Punto Rojo | at the crossroads of the village of Tuetal, Alajuela, Costa Rica   |  
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Hotel amenities
Ranked #2 of 53 Alajuela B&B and Inns
San Francisco, California, United States
1 review
“wish we had more time!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

This hotel has everything you need to launch yourself into Costa Rican life. We stayed only for one night on our way back home - but wished we had more time to see surrounding sites. The rooms are clean and are so thoughtfully put together, the surrounding environment and gardens a real treat. Stay here if you are looking for that down-to-earth, mellow and inviting experience.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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500 people have reviewed this hotel

Traveler rating
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Service
    5 of 5 stars
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 stars
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (63)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New Haven, Connecticut
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 13, 2013

Pros:
Awesome service
Rooms incredibly clean and comfortable - very relaxing
Excellent breakfast (free) and dinner (not free, prices on their website)
Pick-up and drop-off rental car at hotel
Free taxi from airport on arrival
Beautiful grounds

Cons:
Difficult to find (so use the free taxi)


This place was excellent. The entire staff has a complete customer-first mentality and goes out of their way to make sure your stay is as comfortable as possible - even if it inconveniences them. It really is like staying at home and being taken care of - but without the questions of when you are getting a job or having kids.

My wife and I flew into San Jose and got in pretty late. One of the nicest perks of staying at this hotel is that they will pay for your taxi ride AND the rental car will be there the next morning. I strongly recommend doing this because Alajuela has no street signs and it is impossible to find your way in the dark (another group didn't take advantage of this and got lost and ended up staying somewhere else). When we arrived the owner had dinner for us even though it was around 11:00 at night. It also wasn't junky - we had chicken sandwiches that were seasoned really well - it was actually one of the best meals we had in Costa Rica and perfect for worn-out travelers. If for some reason you lack common sense and decide to not stay in Pura Vida - please for the love of God get a taxi to your hotel and do not try to drive there yourself. But honestly - just stay here and don't worry about it.

Breakfast here is amazing and the grounds are beautiful. I spent the first 20-30 minutes just walking around their gardens and listening to all of the birds. Once breakfast was over the rental car was there waiting for us - incredibly convenient (and cheaper since we had the car for fewer days).

On our way out of San Jose we stayed here again and had the dinner which was awesome. It was some curry chicken with stir-fried vegetables - it really tasted like a home-cooked meal (staying with mom). The next morning our flight was very early in the morning but the staff still had packed a breakfast for us when we left. Many other hotels would have just said "Breakfast starts at 7 AM, you aren't here so too bad." But Pura Vida went out of their way again to make sure we were taken care of.

Don't bother looking anywhere else in the San Jose area - just stay here and you will be completely satisfied.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alajuelanorth, Manager at Pura Vida Hotel, responded to this review, April 14, 2013
Thanks so much for the kind review.

We are most happy you picked up on the customer first idea as it is the heart of our business and our life style. We moved here to make a "place we would like to stay at" and guests like you guys make it "a place we like to be at" early in the morning some days and others late at night fixing up a meal you might enjoy. Funnily enough it is also food we like to eat :-)) That of course is no coincidence.

Great to have you with us and thank you for spending the extra minutes to give us such a review,

Berni
Manager
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Lenexa, Kansas
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 12, 2013

We recently spent 3 nights at this resort in March. The grounds were lovely and Bernie the owner could not be more helpful, he gave me suggestions for our whole trip in Costa Rica as well as a recommendation for a driver Sterling who could not have been better. We also enjoyed a lovely dinner prepared by the owners wife at Pura Vida. I only had one problem their is a dog there named Lola who is a bit obsessive and wanted to spend more time with us giving us a rock to throw than we wanted to spend with her. I would recommend this hotel to someone who is spending the night coming or going to the airport, has business in San Jose, wants to explore around San Jose or just wants to relax in a delightful place.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service

Review collected in partnership with this hotel

Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lake Oswego, Oregon
Senior Contributor
29 reviews 29 reviews
5 hotel reviews
Reviews in 13 cities Reviews in 13 cities
13 helpful votes 13 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 2, 2013

We stayed at the Pura Vida on our first night in Costa Rica after a long flight. The hotel provides free taxi service from the airport, and it was easy to navigate our way to the hotel. We had requested the late meal and expected some very simple snacks. But the chicken sandwiches were absolutely delicious and one of our favorite meals of the trip! We wish we could have tried one of Nhi’s gourmet dinners!! We stayed in the Katydid Casita and it was perfect for our family of 4. Spacious, roomy and well equipped. It was a Saturday night and there was a bit of road noise so we made use of the earplugs the hotel provides.

Breakfast was another delicious meal. As others have mentioned, there are 4 large dogs on the property, so that is something you should consider when booking a stay at the Pura Vida. It wasn’t an issue for us and we are happy that we were able to spend our first night in Costa Rica at this unique property with its beautiful grounds and accommodations.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 3 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alajuelanorth, Manager at Pura Vida Hotel, responded to this review, April 14, 2013
Thanks so much for spending the time to review us. We do appreciate it and try to "listen" and act on all comments we get. Yes there was some road noise that Saturday night - the 2nd bedroom in the Katydid is closer to the road. Now it is quiet (high season is over) we will be erecting a sound wall on the back of that bedroom which should help.

Thanks again for coming and we really appreciate the input - hope to see you back again one day,

Berni
Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sun Prairie, Wisconsin
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 31, 2013

We arrived in Costa Rica after a long day of traveling. We made it to Pura Vida, and they were kind enough to provide us with drinks and a late dinner. The room and grounds were spectacular. The service and food was even better. We highly recommend Pura Vida.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Location
    • 5 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Duluth, Georgia, United States
1 review
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 29, 2013

Just wanted to say thanks so much for everything! Our vacation was fantastic, and Sterling did an excellent job as our driver, guide and interpreter!! Or using the Costa Rican phrase, it was "Pura Vida". We will definitely recommend him to any of our friends or relatives who are considering going to Costa Rica in the future.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 18, 2013

Pura Vida Hotel is the perfect introduction to Costa Rica, and the
best base camp for trips out to the other parts of the country. As
reviewer after reviewer has said: it is very close to the airport; the
gardens are beautiful, and you will spot your first mot-mot and
blue morpho butterfly without having to walk miles into the rain
forest; the casitas are comfortable and well-furnished, and having
your own refrigerator and coffee machine to make the superb Costa
Rican coffee is a much appreciated extra; the breakfasts and dinners are the best I
have had in Costa Rica and some of the best I have had anywhere in my
travels.

Berni is very knowledgeable about Costa Rica now and happy to
share his knowledge. One of the things that puts you immediately at ease with Berni is his dry sense of humor. In the materials he leaves in each guest house, you can read the blow-by-blow accounts of his experiences learning the ins and outs of Costa Rican construction workers and plumbers in the early days of his inn-keeping life. He's British (via the .com world of California) and his tales have a Monty Python-esque touch that can't help but make you grin and then burst out laughing!

My friend and I are probably some of the few people who come to Costa Rica for its crafts. We have traveled through Mexico and Central America collecting handicrafts. Our first visit to Costa Rica, before we knew about Pura Vida, we found nothing to buy! Our second visit, when we stayed at Pura Vida, with Berni's help, we found some beautiful things. Each casita is decorated with local crafts. Some have mirrors showcasing Costa Rican flora and fauna in
beautifully handpainted tiles. When we admired them, Berni and Nhi
helped us find the artist's house so we could buy some of our own. The
hotel sells masks made by the Boruca people. When we admired them,
Berni helped us arrange a trip to their village in the mountains to
see the masks and maskmakers for ourselves, and told us the best place
to stay. He arranged the four-wheel drive car we needed to get there.

What I find unique about Berni and Nhi is their support not only for
local artists, but for Costa Rican schools and conservation projects.
Pura Vida encourages its guests to participate in "Pack for a Purpose"
(packforapurpose.org) and bring a suitcase full of school supplies
(which, once emptied, you can then fill with local crafts to take
home). If you aren't making Pura Vida your first stop, you can leave the school supplies at
the airport, and he will pick them up. On one of our trips he had helped arrange for us to visit the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. When the five of us arrived in Alajuela with five suitcases of school supplies, he directed us to a project on the east coast of Costa Rica run by friends of his so we could meet them and deliver the school supplies in person. It turned out to be one of our most memorable experiences in Costa Rica, and we are still in contact with Berni's friends.

He is presently actively involved in the Ara Project, an effort to save a Scarlet and Great Green Macaw breed and release project that has lost its land--and working to get other hotels involved. He will be happy to arrange a tour--http://www.puravidahotel.com/activities-a-tours/the-ara-project.html. It is now the #1 attraction in Alajuela on TripAdvisor.

We are repeat guests and now arrange our trips around the availability of the Casitas and Nhi's incredible dinners! A trip to Costa Rica wouldn't be the same without some time at Pura Vida with Berni, Nhi, and their ever-entertaining family of dogs!

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 5 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
alajuelanorth, Manager at Pura Vida Hotel, responded to this review, March 24, 2013
Thanks so much for taking the time to do so detailed a review. I know we will probably welcome you back in a few months.

I would hope that more visitors like you would take the time to explore the local culture (which is sometimes hard to find) and see the real Costa Rica and support more of the local artisans (which for you is almost a full time job :-)). Your efforts are very much appreciated here and throughout the country,

Berni
Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Additional Information about Pura Vida Hotel

Also Known As:
Pura Vida Alajuela
Hotel Pura Vida
Pura Vida Hotel Costa Rica/Alajuela
Address: 1500 meters north of the Fabrica Punto Rojo | at the crossroads of the village of Tuetal, Alajuela, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Alajuela
Amenities:
Business Center with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #2 of 53 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
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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