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Reviewed October 29, 2010

Besides the location, the place just becomes your favorite hangout with all your best friends and family. Demo cuisine is so much fun. Makes it like dining with a huge family from all over the world. The volcano view is the best the area has to offer. Hiking on the grounds is beautiful. Horseback riding up the mountain and hiking to the waterfall should not be missed. Elander is a wonderful guide and his horses are so easy to handle. Definitely hit the free hot spings. This place is life changing and has so many different activities to offer. If you were to look up "Pura Vida" in a dictionary, it should have a picture of Essence Arenal. Can't wait to get back!

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank miamiamii
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed October 26, 2010

We stayed for three nights with two young children (ages 6 & 8). We had a small but comfortable room with a double bed and bunk-beds - it was very clean and we had a fantastic view of the volcano from our bed!

The hostel is owned by Nico, who also has a young kid, which makes the hostel very family friendly. Nico and the rest of the team are just fantastic - nothing is too much trouble, they provided us with great advice as to where to visit and helped us organise onward transportation to Monteverde.

The best thing about the hostel though is the nightly particpative, themed dinners - we got to make Moroccan flat bread, Mexican Burittos and Japanese Sushi. This brings everyone together at mealtimes and creates a great atmosphere - you also learn a knew skill. We have no doubt that we will be making our own sushi back home in the UK thanks to the Essence Arenal team.

All in all a great, memorable stay - we were sad to leave.

  • Stayed: October 2010, traveled with family
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Thank Lou_Simon
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 28, 2010

I can't say enough about Essence Arenal. Some friends we met while traveling gave a rave review of this jewel of a hostel just days before we were on our way to the Arenal area, and we couldn't agree more. We made reservations just a few days before our arrival, and Kelly picked us up in La Fortuna after our arrival by bus. He was very friendly, pointing out some hot spots along the way to the hostel - the hostel is in El Castillo which is a good drive from La Fortuna, so it's best to have a car if you stay here long. Kelly even connected us with some other guests that had a car so we could get around while making new friends (that is before we got our own car, which Kelly also helped arrange for us).

The view of Arenal Volcano from Essence Arenal is amazing - by far the best view of any hostel or hotel around this area. The nighttime lava flow watching was fun and exciting every night we stayed here.

The staff here is fantastic as well. In addition to all the other help Kelly provided that I already mentioned, he also set up some day trips for us and gave tips on anything we asked of him. Plus he was just a great guy to chat with when he wasn't busy helping other guests. Then there was Isaac and Anthony, the great chefs and friendly dudes. Each night they prepared an extravagant dinner where guests learn how to make the main dish and then eat it. They were even so kind as to bake a cake for my wife's birthday!

Some of the great activities to do in this area - waterfall repelling, go to the free hot springs that mix with a cold creek to get that perfect temp (Kelly can show you where to find this), hike Cerro Chato which is an inactive volcano next to Arenal that has a lake in the crater, take a cruise along the northern side of Lake Arenal and have lunch at Macademia Y Cafe, and have hand-made ice cream at Pizza John just around the corner from Essence Arenal.

  • Stayed: March 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank z4ever
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 25, 2010

Everything about this place is great. The people are super friendly, the view is vary good, and the food is delicious!

  • Stayed: June 2010, traveled as a couple
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Thank Lukemidd
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 11, 2010

Planned to stayed three nights but ended up staying four. Had a great time seeing the different ambientes of this place, from being the only male guest to having and private dinner experience with Isaac, the chef. Being a meat eater I was not too sure about the vegetarian demo-cousine, but I ended up really enjoying both that experience and some great meals. I met really cool people there and ended up seeing lava the last two nights, having only seen clouds the first two nights. They also tell you about great things to do around, like Pizza John's or the free hot springs!

  • Stayed: May 2010, traveled solo
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Thank icelandicaustrian
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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