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Reviewed January 26, 2011

My girlfriend and I loved it here. Great atmosphere. The staff were very friendly. The food was good. It really felt like home away from home. It was also great meeting so many like-minded travelers and swapping stories over food and drinks.

A couple things to know about this place: The food is vegetarian (including eggs) but it's still really good. The rooms are definitely nothing fancy; if you're looking for luxury, go somewhere else, but if you want decent rooms at a good value this is perfect.

The location is great if you're planning on hiking. It's close to the Observatory Lodge where some good hiking trails begin, and the actual park entrance. If you plan to be in La Fortuna the whole time, it's not ideal, because it's about 5 miles on a really crappy road. IMO there's not much in La Fortuna besides tour operators and a few nice restaurants.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank Bern55
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 26, 2011

The hospitality here is amazing. It was my first time staying at a hostel and it was so fun! The best part is that you get to help cook the dinner. Really fun and conducive to getting to know the other guests. The owners are super friendly. The only complaint I have is that there are some parts of the property that are not pleasing to the eye, like a beer bottle pile out back and some areas where landscaping should be done. Also, the hot tub was out of order when we were there. The hostel itself needs some work but it's a young business and I look forward to coming back in a few years to see how far they've come. All in all it was my favorite place we stayed in Costa Rica.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank StarThrower
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 21, 2011

I stayed with my family recently their and loved the ambiance and the friendliness of the people.

Pros: Common aria and its atmosphere probably the best so far in CR.
The view is fantastic. They say you don't have to have a car to get there, but I highly recommend it- otherwise you get to be stuck in the place.Plan to rent 4WD if you are ought to get there. Even if you get stuck there - its the best place in Costa Rica to be stuck at. Not only the place is a great spot to sip your coffee and enjoy the view of Volcano, Lake etc.. the property around itself is very pretty .
There is also butterfly conservatory a walking distance from the hostel- you can spent a lovely afternoon there if you get stuck with the bad weather. You gonna enjoy the great view in the great company, fresh air, birds, probably all that with the tasty vine and food. Great way to get social and talk to people. Beautiful property. Friendly and hospitable owners. They will also give you a tip about free host-springs. The rooms are OK ( we had a private $40 one with the bathroom) , we slept well.

Cons: We arrived on the rainy night ( news years eve), hostel was full for that night, bit the owners were arranging for us to sleep that night not that far from their place.
While we were warming up with the glass of wine and sandwiches offered to us by friendly hosts , someone "broke in " to our car and took the entire backpack from the back. The car was parked in Areal Essence's parking lot. ( the lot is ungraded, but the car was locked) . Its completely our fault- as all guide's book for CR say never to leave your stuff in the car even on attended parking lots , but the isolation of this place and the homey atmosphere we ran into made us drop our guards a little. So we took the entire responsibility for the incident.( we also figured that could had happen anyplace at CR)
The actual part we didn't like so much is some sort of defence we ran into with the owners after sharing with them "the news". ( and we shared it only with them, not making the big deal out of , nor venting it out with other guests ) . We simply thought they ought to know whats going now. Both of them acted confidently as that didn't and couldn't happened on their property. One of them even offered to call for us " other hotels we stayed at to help us find the bag" even though we made it clear that we knew the bag was in the car before we locked it there. That part was annoying if not a bit offensive.


Overlooking that , the beauty, the energy , the vibe, the view and the great atmosphere worked perfectly well with us in Essence Arenal so I recommended it as "the place to stay" to everyone meeting on the road heading to that area. And If I am in the area - would definitely want to stay there again.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled with family
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1  Thank danolear
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 19, 2011

This is a really great value in the area. We got a private room for $40/night. The food was really good, the view of the volcano is amazing, and the friendly staff is incredibly helpful in setting up tours. The only downside was that our room was a little loud, as it is was right near the restaurant/bar area, and the shower was cold. For $40/night at a boutique hostel, this may be a case of caveat emptor. But it is something to consider if you are thinking about the private room. It is too nice to be considered a hostel but doesn't have the comfort of other B&Bs: I probably would have liked it more if I were in college. Nevertheless, it is a really fun place that is a great value.

  • Stayed: January 2011, traveled as a couple
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Thank CCMF3000
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed January 13, 2011

During our month stay in Costa Rica, this was our best stay.

The hostel is situated in the upper part of El Castillo along the very bumpy gravel road, 4WD is highly recommended.
A big part of the surroundings belong to the hostel and there's a very nice trail. Hummingbirds, toucans, parrots and howler monkey are some of the animals in the area.

Breakfast is included, lunch can be arranged and the dinner is prepared together with the other guests. Every night there's a different theme and everyone helps out with some part of the cooking. During our stay we made pasta, sushi and falafel. This common cooking let you get to know the other guests, and creates and athmosphere that's more like a family than a hostel.

The only downside is that it's a bit remote, but even though we didn't have our own car, this place was our best stay. The great surroundings, athmosphere and value makes up for it all.

  • Stayed: December 2010, traveled with family
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Thank Cloudwaster
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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