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“Fabulous Experience!”

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Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel
Ranked #1 of 5 El Castillo B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Portland, Oregon
Level Contributor
38 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
“Fabulous Experience!”
Reviewed February 27, 2014

A friend and I stayed two nights at this hostel. Everything about it was fabulous starting with the extremely friendly, helpful staff. Many of the staffers are volunteers and they were delightful to talk with. The people really made the visit most extraordinary. The view is spectacular from there and we were able to access amazing hiking trails by taking the shuttle in the morning. The location is quite remote and up a long bumpy dirt road, but that just made for fewer people on the trails. The dinner was good and interesting, plus a bonus to sit with other travelers and engage in conversations with them. We heard birds and howler monkeys at night which was a delight. It is not fancy but has everything we needed. We absolutely loved our time there and wish we had stayed longer.

Room Tip: Choosing a room is personal, of course. We had a room with a private bathroom that costs a little m...
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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Helpful?
Thank Leslie B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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455 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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    16
    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
  • Any
English first
Evanston, Illinois
2 reviews
Reviewed February 25, 2014

My wife, two kids (ages 7 and 10) and I spent 3 nights at Essence last week. We rate our experience there excellent. The benefits were amazing views of Volcan Arenal, Lago Arenal and environs, a hard working staff aiming to please - thank you Melissa, Marvin, Kelly, and Melanie, clean private room again with a great view, wonderful vegetarian food that even the hardest to please non-vegetarian (me) will like, fun people to meet esp. during meals, awesome massages in a really peaceful place for only $32 an hour, a hot tub with a view, the proximity to the Volcano Arenal park, really cool butterfly and snake/reptile places within walking distance, and short car rides to zip lining, and hot springs. The costs for the room were $58 a night which for a family of four is hard to beat. Food was way above average yet the cost was on par with meals we had out at standard restaurants (not sodas). The only negative was the short climb we had to make on a bad road but we accomplished this without difficulty in a small non 4 wheel drive car. Three special shout outs: the chef noticed that my 7yr old hard to please son wasn't eating the dinner so he offer to make him some pasta and charged us less for it, Melissa's dedication to making the best stay possible for her guests - mixing and mingling with ease, and Kelly's wonderful guidance on what to do in Arenal.

Room Tip: Go for the private room - but you will want to book in advance. They were in great demand.
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  • Stayed February 2014, traveled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
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    • Service
Helpful?
Thank John S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Monterey, California
Level Contributor
19 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed January 30, 2014

It didn't live up to the review in the guidebook. As a single, I didn't like having to pay for two people to get one bed. They no longer have "dorms," though the rooms look like them. The one breakfast I ate there was unimpressive. You have to go out in the rain to get to the bathroom. You are really at the mercy of infrequent ($6) shuttle buses if you don't have your own transportation.

  • Stayed January 2014, traveled solo
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank sailingladytraveler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
EssenceArenall, Owner at Essence Arenal Boutique Hostel, responded to this review, February 11, 2014
Dear Guest,
thanks for taking your time to coment on our propertie in various sites.
I am very sorry you didn feel so well here.
we would have apreciated a feed back when you checked out ,
we do offer a private single traveler room for $ 20, you just have to book it or ask us about it. If you book a regular room through a travelagency and you reserve it for double occcupancy we dont know your needs, I asked my manager about it and he told that the last day you mentioned it and even so he applied you a 35% discount on your room.
If you reserve a room with shared bathroom it means that the bathroom is not in the room, so yes you have to walk 15 feet to the bathroom wich we made separatly on pourpousse to avoid any unpleasant noise.
as you where sick when you arrived and didnt go out of your room the first 2 days and didnt want the cleaning lady to come in and clean it the third day might have seemd not clean.
There are many things to do in the area with out shutle service, butterfly conservatory, 2 minutes walk, ecozoo 3 minutes walk, lake 10 minutes walk, diferent waterfalls, sky tram and track, Horsebackriding........ etc everything is from here with out a shutle service, if you need to go to la Fortuna and dont have a car we have negociated with a taxi service an $ 6 fee for a 20 mile or a 40 minutes ride?????? ist that amaizing?
Our only goal and mission is happy guests, if we didnt come up to your expectation please tell us onsite we will solve it and wont let an unhappy guest leave, well make it up if you let us know when we still have a chance to do so.
thanks very much and we hope to welcome you soon for you to see our improvments.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Paris, France
Level Contributor
10 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed January 28, 2014

My boyfriend and I spent, in August 2013, 4 days there. We were occupying the "deluxe" room that has the view on the volcano. The room was ok, and the view was stunning.
But the most important was the atmosphere: staff really friendly, and there was a very good mix with other guests. As we were participating in preparing the vegetarian meal we met a lot of nice people from everywhere, with the same philosophy: open-mindedness to new experiences and cultures. Before the meals, most of the guests were sharing a beer and experiences of the day. Kelly who manages the place is really nice and helpful. The boss Nicho is a german guy who moved to CR long time ago, was also nice. Martin the mexican shaman was travelling but Allan did the mexican ritual in the tent (strongly recommended). We also had a tour of the property where Allan showed us all the plants and animals. There is a natural pool, but not deep enough to swim. If you are looking for a friendly, cool and peaceful atmosphere, it is the right place!

  • Stayed August 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank vdp1234
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Boston
Level Contributor
9 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed January 20, 2014

I want to begin by saying the staff was really lovely, especially Vanessa who was quite helpful and made me feel very comfortable. If my room had been only $20-$25 a night I would have felt that my experience was average and ok overall, but because it was $38 (single occupancy, private room and bath, no breakfast), I overall feel that what I received for what I paid was inadequate. My room, which was right by the road, was also very loud at night due to cars roaring by and the paper thin walls.
Additionally, dinner was mediocre and, again, overpriced. I would have felt fine about it if it had been $7-$8 but it was over $11, I believe.
Getting to Essence wasn't great either because of the conditions of the roads. I had come from traveling around many parts of Costa Rica and found this road to be the worse because of the pot holes. The roads to reach Monteverde and Santa Elena were VERY bumpy, but due to rocks on the surface, which was remedied by four wheel drive. The road to Essence had huge inescapable potholes so it was impossible to navigate well.
The jacuzzi was nice and a perk. The staff pleasant. But I would not recommend.
I moved to Ceiba Tree Lodge in Nuevo Arenal which was $67, included breakfast and had extremely clean rooms with beautiful views of the lake.

  • Stayed January 2014
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Consuela S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berlin, Germany
Level Contributor
33 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
Reviewed January 10, 2014 via mobile

I am not big on hostels, and this one felt as cramped and basic as I expected. But I would definitely go back: they have a strong focus on community and make it work in the nicest way by seating people together at meals, arranging shared transport etc. I spent so little time in the room that it strictly did not matter how big or nice it was.

My suggestion for improvements: Guys, you're running an organic farm. Get rid of the margarine, cool whip and maple flavoured sirup already!

Stayed January 2014, traveled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank soho49
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Seattle, Washington
Level Contributor
15 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed January 5, 2014

My boyfriend and I stayed here for three nights, arriving on Christmas Eve. I can't even describe how awesome and kind the staff were, especially Kelly, Vanessa, and Chef Marvin. Where to start?

The town of El Castillo takes approximately 3 seconds to pass through, but there is a soda (small restaurant) called "La Mesa de Mama" with good food and a small adjoining store; a Dos Pinos convenience store; and a short walk further down the road is a bar. These in addition to the Butterfly Conservatory, Eco Zoo, and a handful of other lodgings. As for Essence Arenal, we had a private room w/private bathroom adjacent to the kitchen and dining area. The bedroom, bathroom, and bed were all clean and tidy. The front porch had a few seats and an amazing view of the volcano. Our room was a tad noisy since it was next to the road, but that's hard to avoid in a country where everyone rides motorcycles. The birds were loud in the morning, including a giant parrot, but I rather enjoyed that -- can't ask animals to quiet down, anyhow.

Marvin specializes in delicious vegetarian dinners which appealed to me (a vegetarian) as well as to my carnivore boyfriend. We enjoyed a few breakfasts and a lunch there too; everything was so fresh and tasty. Participating in the dinner preparation was a nice touch.

Next to the outdoor hot tub, there's a cool little building with plenty of seating, a mini fridge for your beverages, and a wonderful view. We enjoyed reading here and just gazing out the windows at the beautiful surroundings. 10-15 mins. down a scenic trail, you will find the farm area which includes a small coffee plantation, medicinal herb garden, tilapia pond, yoga deck, and a smattering of chickens. It's a gorgeous area to wander around -- I'm kind of jealous of the employees there.

Our second day there, Christmas day, we got lost kayaking on Lake Arenal. Despite applying sunscreen, we both got brutally sunburned (the foreseen 2 hour trip turned into 5 hours. Oops.). Kelly was so kind as to bring us some aloe which helped a LOT -- very much appreciated! Just an example of how thoughtful and nice the staff are, every stinkin' day.

Keep in mind that this is a hostel, so rooms are bare bones: no TV, no mini fridge, etc. Don't worry, you'll survive and maybe even appreciate the breathtaking country you're visiting. Overall I loved Essence Arenal and felt sad to move on. We would definitely return here and spend a week just at Essence, if possible. What a gem of a place!

  • Stayed December 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank SaEofDoom
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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