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“What's not to like?” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 59 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Monterey, California
1 review
“What's not to like?”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 14, 2012

First things first. If you are not sure if you should take a trip to Costa Rica and you have questions you won't do better than ask the Pura Vida. An email to Berni will get you all kinds of travel and touring information.

We came as medical tourists twice this year for dental surgery and dental implants and were happy to go back to the Pura Vida both trips. Pura Vida Hotel recently added a nice rental apartment in Escazu where dentists and surgeons are based so although we didn't use it, it might be a good place for people who need a quiet base for a few days. Instead we rented a car and drove in each day which wasn't too difficult.

Day trips were pretty good in between dentist visits - the staff has plenty of suggestions like the farmers market or a volcano trip.

As many reviewers already commented Pura Vida Hotel is a spotless and friendly place with lovely gardens. We saw many species of birds - we were there at the peak of nesting season and the song of the Yiguirro is something you will not forget soon. The Yiguirro does however get up very early to start its mating calls. The garden is full of heliconias, coffee, mangoes, lemons, bananas and so many other fruits as well as 2 greenhouses of vegetables and herbs they use in cooking. Also hundreds of orchids in different parts of the garden. You should ask Berni to walk you round.

Other reviewers mentioned dinner service was not on during their visit the last few months but dinners have returned now. You've got to book ahead as they buy fresh each day. We had 2 dinners the last trip with the best oso bucco I ever tasted and another with a lemon grass chicken as the main course. Nhi actually got a "sitting ovation" on the osso bucco - an event we had never seen before at a B&B! They have the lemon grass from the garden. Nhi's deserts are also not to be missed since pastry is her favorite. The breakfasts are included and were the best we have had at any hotel. We didn't try it but they also have a 5 course tasting with wine menu for groups.

This is not your typical B&B. It is modern or renovated, spotless, great food and a learning experience for both my wife and I.

A great stay and friendly owners and staff.

  • Stayed April 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Andre327
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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720 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
    610
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (128)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
5 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 30, 2012

We have stayed at the Pura Vida twice in the last few months. It is a excellent hotel with everything will will ever need. The owner Berni has gone out of his way to make his hotel not just a place to stay but to thoroughly enjoy...and he has done a magnificent job. We stayed in two different but very will equipped rooms.....food was excellent and Berni packed us a great breakfast as we took off quite early in the morning to catch our flight. The grounds around the hotel are like a little oasis in the middle of a very busy city. Stay here you will never regret it. As a B&B owner I really appreciated all the details and it gave me some ideas to improve my own business. Thanks Berni

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank BBIHostess
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, April 30, 2012
Thanks Canuk, for the super nice review.

Your point is well taken about getting ideas as we all travel. We try to get out in Costa Rica once a month or so to visit other places just to do that (oh well and to experience our adopted country). However careful we may be you will always find new or interesting ideas as you travel from one small hotel to the next and we are glad you found some here too.

Thanks again,

Berni
Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ventura, California
Level Contributor
7 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 24, 2012

This was a great choiice for us, nice rooms, good food, and they were very heplful. They set us up with Sterling, our tour guide, he was great! Very knowlegable and great fun. A must do!
We were a group of 8, and this was the prefect place to start our Costa Rican trip.

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank topoday35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Level Contributor
12 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 23, 2012

Stayed at Pura Vida on our first night in Costa Rica and our last (to and from the airport). The grounds of the hotel were lovely, and it was the nicest place we stayed on all of our trip. Felt very safe and secure in the casita. The breakfast to go was great and we appreciate all the help to get us taxis for dinners and to the Doka Coffee Plantation.

Room Tip: We stayed in the Katydid and the Toucan room - both were great, but there are more stairs down to ge...
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  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank quellebellereve
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Houston, TX
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 17, 2012

We recently took a trip to Costa Rica several weeks ago. I was excited to book this hotel based upon the reviews on this website. Overall, I do not believe our stay was consistent with the standards that were conveyed in the reviews.

While high expectations may have led to a high standard, there were a few basic, generally-accepted tenants of hospitality that were lacking in our stay. First, we felt that the dry humor of our host diminished some of the feeling of goodwill experienced while on vacation. As a group of adults, we can take a joke, but we felt that some types of humor are better in smaller quantities. In fairness, while registering for the rooms, we were asked if we had a sense of humor. It's hard to imagine many people answering "no" to that question, though.

Second, we were surprised that the grounds, while nice, were somewhat small. The hotel itself is inside a compound of sorts with high walls and gates protecting it. The area surrounding the hotel seemed more run-down, which may be why the owner has 2 large dogs for security. The idea of spending our vacation inside the walls of a compound did not lend itself to the "Pura Vida" attitude of Costa Rica in general. Often when taking a trip to a foreign land, it is best to experience the culture of the people there by immersion into their community. For the remaining part of our trip, we were able to find several hotels that were able to maintain a nice atmosphere without making their guests feel like they are locked-in.

Finally, I have to mention the end of our stay. We were surprised when our credit card was not working at check-out. This was a new card, with specific benefits for international charges. The manager ran the card multiple times, seemingly perplexed at the ineffective machinery. We ended up paying in cash. It seemed odd that the card had worked prior to our arrival at the Pura Vida Hotel. And, in retrospect, it was even more curious that the card worked in all future transactions in Costa Rica, including hotels and resorts. I do not purport to know why the card did not work at this one particular location, but it makes you wonder about the legitimacy of practices there.

While there are several nice aspects to a stay at Pura Vida Hotel, we felt there are many other places that offer a more Costa Rican, laid-back experience. Of the three places we stayed during our trip, this was our least favorite. It may be a nice stay for those looking to be near the airport with plenty of cash.

Room Tip: Ensure your credit card is working prior to arrival
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  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with family
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank KayLHouston_TX
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, April 20, 2012
Thanks for the review. Even if it wasn't perfect we always try to learn from our guests and their reviews.

Yes we do ask guests ahead of time if they have a sense of humor and it appears we may have had a miss on that one. We certainly did not intend to "diminish good will" but the Pura Vida runs on good humor and good food as many other reviewers attest to.

At check out, our day manager, Jose Luis attempted to run the credit card multiple times and could not get a "read". He then asked the guest if they had another card as we could not read it. Our experience has about 1 in 200 cards are not read by the machine the first swipe and maybe 1 in 1000 cant be read at all. The guest declined to provide another card and paid with cash. 90% of our guest transactions are paid by credit card so I think the stats can speak for themselves.

Also as we have noted in a previous review we are in process of switching our card machine for one denominated in dollars as our current machine only charges in the local currency (colones) and the exchange rate changes daily. This will remove and confusion over exchange rate in the next week or two. Other than this simple change the machine works perfectly for the greater majority of credit cards.

Thanks for taking the time to review,

Berni
Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison
Level Contributor
10 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 15, 2012

We stayed here at the end of our trip. A bit of a splurge after a week without hot water or electricity in the rain forest. It was a pure delight. The breakfast was filling and beautifully presented. Lovely touches everywhere. Wandering the garden was a pure pleasure - a gem inside the city. Berni set us up with a great guide/driver for a day trip. Also excellent. Nhi cooks an amazing dinner - if you set it up ahead of time. Two of the sweetest dogs will hang out nearby - or eat a mango. The staff was friendly and helpful.

Room Tip: The Volcano suite has a nice view. Some noise from the dining area in the evening if you are an earl...
See more room tips
  • Stayed April 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Solblomst
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ventura
Level Contributor
47 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 10, 2012

The folks working there were wonderful- friendly- and oh so helpful. Breakfasts were a delightful assortment of fresh fruits- accompanied by yogurt and a daily "bread". Eggs and such were available to order for a modest charge. The rooms had a small fridge that made chilling "beverages" for later possible- but the hotels drinks and food were quite reasonable. The best part was the tour guide the hooked us up with- "Sterling". One of the best tour guides I've ever had- with a vast knowledge of history, natural science, and even politics for the region. His english was excellent but his wit was amazing. Great bus too!!!

  • Stayed March 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Markapedia
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Pura Vida Hotel

Property: Pura Vida Hotel
Address: | Just 4km North of the International Airport, Alajuela 20101, 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 Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 59 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 
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Also Known As:
Pura Vida Alajuela
Hotel Pura Vida
Pura Vida Hotel Costa Rica/Alajuela

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