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“Best hostel I have ever been to in my life”

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Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel
Ranked #1 of 5 El Castillo B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Stockholm, Sweden
2 reviews
“Best hostel I have ever been to in my life”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 30, 2013

This is a must go to place. I loved it. The staff, especially the gardener and the owner were so nice. Free tour of the property every morning, where you could see the rainforest and the garden. Awesome view. And the food, oh the food! Would have been worth it to go only for the food.

  • Stayed March 2013, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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Helpful?
Thank Inspira84
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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456 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    284
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    5
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    4 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (48)
Date | Rating
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
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English first
1 review
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 22, 2013

I stayed at Essence for around a week and had a fantastic time. The people that work there are like a family and they treat guests like this also. A cheap shuttle service will pick you up from the local town of Fortuna and take you to this very quiet beautiful and unique place.

The views are amazing of the lake and volcano. Walking up to the farm where they run a work exchange programme is also wonderful. You will see hundreds of birds and other wildlife every day. If you are also interested in permaculture then you will enjoy spending time at the farm. You can learn a thing or two here about how to work with nature. You can easily get to one of the many attractions in the area or simply chill out and observe nature right on your doorstep.

I stayed in the tent accommodation which was great. Much more comfortable compared to normal camping as the tents are like little houses.

The food was great here and the idea of getting guests involved in some food preparation every evening is a nice thing to do. I would visit again for sure. Maybe also go on the work exchange programme.

  • Stayed May 2013, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank Jeremy M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Peterborough, Canada
Level Contributor
30 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 19, 2013

We stayed in one of the tents for a three nights recently, and very much enjoyed the first couple of nights/days. We came across the lake from Monteverde, using jeep-boat-jeep, on a lovely sunny day, so had great views of the volcano as we approached. We were delighted that Essence is located on a ridge looking across this beautiful lake, and directly beneath the mountain. Sadly, the rain set in the second day, and although it didn't mar our pleasure in hiking around the area that day, it became a pretty hard downpour by the third night so the dampness set into the tent and made things somewhat unpleasant by then. Guests cannot use the kitchen, but the food available for good prices is delicious, and we very much enjoyed the dinners with a chance to interact with other travellers. The jacuzzi was operational, and we had a lovely hour or so enjoying that and the fantastic view on our first evening. There is a nice common area around the jacuzzi...but when it rains like that, there is nothing to do, no place to gather, so you are confined to your room/tent. Hopefully this will change as they continue to expand again after the earthquake damage. Overall, a really unique and memorable experience. We recommend it without doubts.

Room Tip: Take along a flashlight, for nocturnal visits to the toilets. We also found that in the shower rooms...
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2013, traveled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Julie F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
San Isidro de El General, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
32 reviews
26 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed March 29, 2013

This hostel is located on a cenic ridge in the jungle above Lake Arenal, so plan on hearing the howler monkeys woofing around sunrise.

We stayed in a large platform tent with a Queen size bunk bed, storage locker, and tables.

The shared showers and bathrooms work well, but be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp so you don't trip on the rocky trail.

You can buy a quality breakfast or dinner in the dining room, and the interior and exterior common areas are very comfortable.

We took the pre-breakfast hike to the rapidly expanding organic farm that is part of the hostel. It is located on a ridge on the other side of this large property.

The hostel staff does a superior job of making sure everyone is welcome and making sure they are assisted with every question about the many trails and things to do and see in the area.

The owner of the property is present on site and very involved in the excellent operation of this hostel.

We enjoyed this place so much.

  • Stayed February 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Jeff W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
10 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 28, 2013 via mobile

We stayed here for 3 nights and thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We had expected to be closer to La Fortuna, but fortunately we weren't as the location of this hotel in El Castillo is superb. Rooms were good, the food was excellent, and the advice and help from the management was invaluable. They also offer reasonably priced shuttle transfers to La Fortuna. A very well run hotel, I would book ahead.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Seanbish1889
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Frankfurt, Germany
Level Contributor
22 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 20, 2013 via mobile

We haven't stayed in the hotel, but went one night for dinner.
We loved the idea and the kind of people we met there also contributed that we had a wonderful evening.
The food was very good, although nothing really special, but 13 USD for a three-course-dinner is more than fair.
The next time we are in this area we will try to book into the hotel.

  • Stayed February 2013
    • Value
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    • Rooms
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank AlBatzino
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Laval, Canada
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 9, 2013

Essence Arenal was the absolute highlight of our stay in Costa Rica. The staff (Nico, Kelly and Vanessa) were absolutely incredible, helping us with our daily activities and not hesitating to give us tips as to places we should see at the lowest cost possible.

We had one of the new private rooms, and although basic, it was just perfect. The food was great and the "family" dining experience is fantastic since you get to meet people from all over the worlds. We continued chatting with other guests, long after dinner was over.

The private trail which leeds to the organic farm is wonderful. We had the chance to see howler monkeys and beautiful birds.

The view of the Arenal volano is great. We were sorry we had booked our other places in advances because we would have stayed there at least another day.

2 nights with breakfast and dinner included, along with some drinks, for $200 per couple is a very good deal.

We highly recommend this place if you're in for a real Costa Rican experience :)

  • Stayed January 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
2 Thank Nathalie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel

Property: Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel
Address: El Castillo, Arenal Volcano National Park 1230, Costa Rica
Location: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Arenal Volcano National Park > El Castillo
Amenities:
Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Spa Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 5 B&Bs / Inns in El Castillo
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): $
Hotel Class:2 star — Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel 2*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Essence Arenal is an incredible volcano and lake view hostel, the perfect opportunity to live a real eco experience in a familiar atmosphere. With all comforts: pool, cafeteria, Japanese heated pool, common kitchen, fire place, jungle trails, waterfall, private or shared bathroom, TV and DVD rental, Internet, Play Station, tours info. And a unique position to observe volcano activities. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Essence Arenal Boutique Hotel El Castillo

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