We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

“Magical oasis not to be missed” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

Best prices for your stay
Enter dates for best prices
Check In mm/dd/yyyy Check Out mm/dd/yyyy
Show Prices
Compare best prices from top travel sites
and 1 more site!
Save
You added Pura Vida Hotel to your Saves list
Pura Vida Hotel
1500 meters north of the Fabrica Punto Rojo | at the crossroads of the village of Tuetal, Alajuela, Costa Rica   |  
Hotel website
  |  
  |  
  |  
Hotel amenities
Ranked #1 of 54 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Saint Paul, Minnesota
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Magical oasis not to be missed”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 24, 2014

My husband and I are enjoying our 2nd visit at Pura Vida and have plans for a third. While we had heard from others how extraordinary it is, we expected just to have a convenient stop near the airport. What a delight! Casitas, rooms in the main house, the restaurant are in the midst of gardens filled with plants that are explained and orchids are everywhere. The orchids in the open air dining room are a destination in themselves, owner Berni's ever growing collection of treasures. We loved the food, prepared exquisitely (Ask Ihn the story of her becoming the chef...I don't want to spoil your chance to discover this.) We did find an oasis of beauty, a warm welcome, and the perfect start to time in Costa Rica. We also discovered immaculate lodging, luxury accommodations at a very affordable rate, and the impact of local people in the food, art, and small gift shop.
We also found a center point for plans for travel in Costa Rica. Drivers, rental cars, tours, problem solving --all are part of what is offered at this intelligently designed, beautifully maintained, ever interesting property. Come with a warm and open heart and discover the magic that the owners have created. We have come to consider it a destination, a place where a few days of just being here is a fully satisfying and engaging place to read in a hammock, explore the gardens, dine happily, and settle into understanding what the Costa Rica term "Pura Vida" can mean.
A note to the grumpy person who wrote that everything was not uniform: relax...or go to predictable chain hotels. This is for people who love beauty, warm people, the special qualities that make travel a joy!

Room Tip: All rooms are good and as long as you indicate how many people your party includes and special needs...
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

533 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    435
    69
    18
    5
    6
See reviews for
147
242
20
11
Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 stars
  • Location
    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 (74)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
California, USA
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 8 cities Reviews in 8 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 17, 2014

Spent one night here after a late flight from the USA. Took a taxi, as instructed, and arrived 10 minutes later to this little gem outside the city. Berni, the owner, paid for the taxi (as promised) and then showed us to our room -- with the help of his big beautiful dog, Max! Berni provided us with a good bottle of red wine and some sandwiches (since it was too late to go anywhere). Stayed in the Volcano room and awoke to a beautiful view of the volcano. Had a delicious and healthy breakfast (included) and then our rental car arrived (as organized by Berni) right on time. It was a short, but very sweet stay. Next time we fly into San Jose -- we will definitely stay a few more nights! Pura Vida!

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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, February 19, 2014
Thank you for taking the time to review us. We look forward to your next visit,

Berni
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madrid
Reviewer
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 hotel reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
2 of 5 stars Reviewed February 15, 2014

There are two kind of hotels.. the one which aims to make life easier to the customer and the one which aims to make life easier to the owner. Pura vida belongs to this last one. Too many rules, too many signs to read, too many things to consider for being on holidays. The hotel is located in a place where you cannot go without car to have any dinner... well, if you want them to give you any food... you have to let them know two days in advance. My god, you are on holidays! you do not want to have to make plans for them. Would it be so difficult to have some light food for people arriving without booking dinner? If you let them know. please be sure you are there at 7:30, not one minute before, not one minute after.

And it is true, the dinner is nice.. but again, they do not tell you what they will do.. they do not check if you like it or not.. My god, at least it would be a benefit of having to book in advance, have the chance to ensure you like it! No, they cook what they decide and you know when you are on the table. Do you have kids? they do not care, they should eat what they cook waht by the way is a fusssion cooking far away from whay kids like (and our kids ate everything).

Breakfast? they open it at 7:30. Too late for a place which is related with the airport or visting place. It is the one which open later in all Costa Rica! Do not worry, if you leave before, they give you a wonderful bag with nice food (fruit, juice, etc.). Nice for the day you leave at 5:30 to go to Tortuguero and fully understood they do not open at 5:30. But if you leave at 7:15, stuill ou get the bag (that they have prepared that morning). Why you cannot eat there? Why do they not prepare some coffee? You take a bag with food to airport.. place where you cannot bring any food..

On the positive side... they give you a lot of information and they have business connection with Toyota REnt a Car whic make a good service for cars and the Turtle Beach Lodge at Tortuguero can pick you there and it is a very convenient solution.

Also it is good for avoiding to go into the city if you do not want to visit it although the location is not in a very nice area.

And in Service I indicate "Normal" as even if the owner is a person not very much customer-oriented, they rest of employees are superbe persons and the owner also try to provide you the info you need but he thinks everyone has his british sense of humor what is nice to watch on the tv but I am unsure it is the best for running a hotel.

  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 4 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 4 of 5 stars Cleanliness
    • 3 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, February 19, 2014
Our guests from Madrid, Spain (where they eat at 10pm) found a place that did not suit them. We will not be for everybody but an enormous majority of our guests are happy with the service we offer.

First this guest and his family did not appear to do research on Costa Rica or our web site (which has extensive Costa Rica information and travel ideas). They placed a booking with a hotel booking service and made a duplicate booking with us. In their review for example they complain that they have to make a booking for dinner "2 days in advance" which is not true and 2 days is not necessary. On our web site, and on our confirming email we alert all guests that "As we buy what we cook each night, we need advance reservations."

We are preparing dinners at the Pura Vida that take a lot of preparation and we buy that day for guests that have pre-booked dinner. Our guests tell us we have the best dinners (and breakfasts) of their trip. We will often take bookings for dinner any time before we go shopping for dinner.

The guest complained in the review he could not get a light meal on arrival late at night. A few days before his arrival we had sent him an email letting him know "If you need dinner any night you need advanced reservations as we do not have a public restaurant." and the following when he booked the rooms "LATE MEALS: For those who need a dinner and don't want to go out we can provide a late meal or snack but we need reservations by the previous day - just let us know if you have any dietary requests such as "vegetarian" or "no cilantro"." The guest arrived their first night around 10pm when restaurants in Costa Rica are closed and he had not requested anything.

Part of his party that night had arrived earlier and eaten at Jalapenos in Alajuela which we had recommended as we eat there frequently. They were also unhappy with the restaurant and our recommendation and told me they'd never eat there again. Jalapenos is this week the #1 rated restaurant in Alajuela on Tripadvisor.

This same member of the party (who had arrived earlier that afternoon) complained to my wife that they "had to be picked up early at 5:30am" and they seemed annoyed by it. He thought we had booked the hotel but in fact his other member of the party had. The guest was very curt as he did not know if he was being picked up. We researched this for them, connected with the correct hotel and confirmed their booking for the next day at 5:30am.

In the review, the guest complained that "they do not tell you what they will do. they do not check if you like it or not.. My god, at least it would be a benefit of having to book in advance, have the chance to ensure you like it! No, they cook what they decide". Yes we do cook what we decide, as we explain to all guests on our web site for our private dinners: "Our main event is a 3 course gourmet dinner based on what we find fresh at the market today . . . and is served at 7pm (but always late) and must be booked in advance - it is not always available. We can do this as vegetarian (and we can avoid one or two dietary things but you need to ask ahead)."

We actually have no idea what we will be making that night until after we have been to the farmers market or the local market. We buy the best produce available and cook in ways that best suit the food and the construction of an interesting and complimentary menu for the night. On Fridays many guests join us on the shopping trip to the farmers market for dinner buying fresh for that night.

While booking his rooms the guest tried to get us to take 7 persons in a casita that held at maximum 6 and he was not happy we could not do that. Yet he booked anyway 2 separate casitas and booked 3 times Jan 31st, Feb 2nd and Feb 7th - any of which bookings he could have canceled.

The guest complained that we should have breakfast available before 7:30am. We will do that with a prior booking as we need to bring staff in earlier but in his case he did not. Most guests prefer a breakfast to go when they leave (many mornings we have guests departing for early flights at 4am). We prepare fresh with fresh fruit, yogurt, orange juice and a granola bar. Every Casita has coffee makers and fresh cream is available if a guest needs it for the morning. We let the guest know this when he booked in an extensive email.

We are very proud of our food service at the Pura Vida - from our web site: "Small hotels like ours do not have large staffs or big kitchens but, with some planning (advanced reservations), daily buying, fresh local ingredients and menu preparation we can put together some of the best meals you may have in Costa Rica."

At the start of the guest review he states that "Too many rules, too many signs to read, too many things to consider for being on holidays." and at the end of his review he says "they give you a lot of information and they have business connection with Toyota Rent a Car which make a good service for cars and the Turtle Beach Lodge at Tortuguero can pick you there and it is a very convenient solution."

Most of our guests are very happy to receive in depth and accurate information on a foreign country they are visiting. The guide books mention we provide a lot of excellent information for first time visitors to Costa Rica for example Open Road's Best of Costa Rica puts it "the owners are very experienced helping guests coordinate rental cars, hotels and tours and advising on the best things to do and see".

We are a very small boutique hotel (yes with a sense of humor :-)) with 6 rooms but perhaps not for everyone. But with 393 excellent ratings on Tripadvisor we do seem to do the right thing for our guests.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sacramento, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed February 10, 2014

Pura Vida is one of those rare finds: a super-convenient, close-to-the airport, stopover in the city that turns out to be a destination in itself. We were arriving in Costa Rica too late to fly on to our next destination and booked this hotel on advice from friends. Bernie, the owner, communicated to us promptly by e-mail, answering all our questions about our first visit to Costa Rica; on arrival, the late night taxi transfer to our hotel was included in the price; he arranged a car rental for us to be delivered to the premises and on our return we were able to leave the car with him. He greeted us at the door on our arrival and took us to our lovely room, the Rainforest Suite, with a bottle of wine and friendly, witty, helpful conversation, despite the late hour. He was up early the next morning with a delicious breakfast on a beautiful patio. The patio in front of our room overlooking the extensive gardens was so inviting we wished we had arranged to stay another day. We had booked Pura Vida again at the end of our trip before our early morning flight to Houston. This time we arrived early and stayed in the Volcano Suite, smaller, but also lovely with a second floor patio view over the large enclosed garden grounds, and on out over the hills outside the compound. This time we were able to have a wonderful dinner on the patio, prepared by Bernie’s wife, Nhi, whose cooking is exquisite. We talked to her briefly in the afternoon as she and Berni were on their way to the market for the food we would eat at dinner. At dinner we met some of the staff, and other guests, also friendly and welcoming.

There are several features that make this place special: the friendliness of the hosts, Berni’s wit and conversation, and the family-feel of the establishment; the scrupulous cleanliness and thoughtful conveniences of the rooms; the beauty of the grounds, the gardens, the orchids, the interesting art objects, the lovely herb garden; the food that is exquisitely prepared with fresh ingredients, many of which come from their garden; the privacy and security of the premises; and most of all, the wonderful dogs who wander the grounds and buildings (but never your room—missing our own dog, we tried to lure them in and they would not cross our threshold) and add so much to the gentle, caring and secure feeling of the place; and finally the way all of your travelers needs and concerns are accommodated with simplicity and grace.

We have already booked for next year and this time we will stay an extra day to fully enjoy this special place.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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, February 19, 2014
Thanks so much for the review and we look forward to seeing you same time next year!

Berni
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Turrialba, Costa Rica
Contributor
13 reviews 13 reviews
9 hotel reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 30, 2014

I live in Costa Rica and My father and I had to be in the city for an appointment. I thought I would stay because I had heard about it and I was curious to see it for myself. This hotel is a hidden gem and so close to the airport! The owners Berni and Nhi are very friendly and go out of their way to make you feel at home. Actually the whole place feels like home because of the nice dogs, the large beautiful tropical garden, The super comfortable beds, (not always easy to find in Costa Rica) and the bright artistically decorated rooms. We had a super delicious world class gourmet meal prepared by Nhi that evening. You have to order it ahead. They actually went out shopping to buy the food to prepare the meal so it would be fresh! We needed to leave early and the owner met us with a full breakfast to go! Honestly I don't think there are many B&B's to be found like this one and I would recommend it to anyone who is traveling to Costa Rica as a very nice place to stay in the Central Valley (airport) area.

Room Tip: I think the Volcano room is the best one because it has a wonderful view and a nice balcony to enjoy...
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2014, traveled with family
    • 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
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, Oregon
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2014

We used this place as our "departure point" after spending 2 weeks in CR as it's only about 4km from SJO (airport). We spent 2 nights here relaxing before it was time to head home to Oregon. The property is very nice and well taken care of although we did smell a slight musty order in our cottage (The Rain Forest room) but I just chalked it up to the climate or maybe the dogs. No biggie.

The other thing is it's a bit noisy with the surrounding traffic and dogs barking (mainly dogs from neighboring house). Obviously the owner has no control over the neighbor's dogs or the loud traffic noise but it needs to be noted here for future guests to be aware of.

The staff is very considerate and kind. The breakfast was very good and we much appreciated the to go breakfast they gave us when he had to leave at 5am to catch our flight.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Location
    • 2 of 5 stars Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 stars Rooms
    • 3 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, January 29, 2014
We are glad you enjoyed the Pura Vida - we do our very best to provide the best possible environment and on occasion that is beyond our control to some extent. That night was a bit of a raucous Saturday with some of the boys partying in the village with a barking dog and as you say was a bit noisy and as you note "beyond our control" - we are sorry for that.

Regarding the comment of a "musty room", we have decorated the Casita with various natural teak logs in the beds and the corner "rain forest" theme. Also as we let every guest know our dogs are trained not go in the rooms. We repainted part of the Casita this December as we started the high season. Every day a room is occupied, one person cleans it top to bottom and a second person (nearly always the manager) does an inspection before the casita is occupied - I also do checks frequently to make sure we are up to snuff and maintaining the levels we are known for. I have checked the casita again and there is a little "aroma" coming from the natural wood "decor", natural wood beds and the mini-rain forest in the corner of the bedroom etc We will take greater care in the detailing of this Casita to ensure the condition of the wood is well maintained.

Thank you for coming and sharing your opinion, Berni
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Diego, California
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 25, 2014

Flew into San Jose for a two week vacation without any reservations or itinerary ... we just wanted to relax and see some of the country, making it up as we went along.
But ... you have to plan on staying somewhere when you arrive and before you depart right? So we booked the first 2 nites and the last nite at Pura Vida based on the great reviews and we could not have been more satisfied. Stayed in the Orchid room which was very comfortable.
Do yourself a favor and look no further, this is the place you want to stay in San Jose. The positive reviews are spot on and we heartily concur with them. Bernie is a bolt of pure energy and will arrange anything you need and will give all the advice you didn't know you needed. Be sure to email him well in advance and he'll send you pages of information which you will find invaluable.
Bernie arranged a van and driver (Sterling) for us to visit Poas volcano and Doka Coffee plantation which I highly recommend. He also arranged for delivery and drop off of a rental car right at the Pura Vida. Be sure to have at least one supper at Pura Vida and follow their recommendations for other dining in the area.
I'll never consider staying anywhere else in San Jose.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled as a couple
    • 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
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, January 29, 2014
Thanks for the super nice review. We and our staff work hard to make sure guest experiences are like yours. And when we recommend a car rental, a guide or a restaurant we make sure they are at the same level of service and quality.

We hope we may do the same for your next trip, best wishes, Berni
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hotels you might also like...
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
Price Your Stay

Been to Pura Vida Hotel? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Additional Information about Pura Vida Hotel

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 #1 of 54 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $$
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 
Reservation Options:
TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Priceline, Booking.com and Odigeo so you can book your Pura Vida Hotel reservations with confidence. We help millions of travelers each month to find the perfect hotel for both vacation and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
Also Known As:
Pura Vida Alajuela
Hotel Pura Vida
Pura Vida Hotel Costa Rica/Alajuela

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Pura Vida Hotel, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.