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“Bernie saved our trip!” 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
Vienna, Virginia
Level Contributor
34 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“Bernie saved our trip!”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 21, 2012

The Pura Vida Hotel was recommended to us by Debbie from Leaves & Lizards Resort at La Fortuna and I cannot think of a more perfect pairing. Both expat couples at each of the hotels have such a deep and contagious love for Costa Rica and are very involved in supporting the local communities. If you want to feel really good about spending your money, do it at those two places and you know that it will be reinvested where it is needed the most - be it in strengthening neighborhoods and helping children through educational resources or very effective reforestation efforts. Both hotels are are extremely generous with providing all the information you need and then some to make your trip wonderful and special and what they really want is for you to catch a glimpse of the authentic Costa Rica. This was our first trip to Costa Rica and I can honestly say if it wasn't for Bernie and Debbie, we may not have had the wonderful experiences that we did.

When you make a reservation at Pura Vida Hotel you don't just get a room for the night. You will be getting an introduction to the country, the people, life in the community and all the tools you need to get around. We reserved a car through Bernie and the transaction could have not been easier (we should have returned the car at his hotel too instead of trying to find the airport rental office which was the only truly anxiety inducing experience of the trip because it was not at all easy to find). We stayed at the Mariposa House at Pura Vida and very much liked the rooms and surrounding gardens. Unfortunately, Nhi was not there during our stay and we had to eat outside the hotel but Bernie's recommendation of the Princessa Restaurant was good albeit quite a first night experience for us with the nightly drive past barb-wired residences, crowds of people wandering on the street in the dark, noticeable police presence and with the strict instructions to not go exploring on our own after dark.

Breakfast the next morning was a true treat. The fresh fruit baskets were wonderful and the smoothies made for a delicious start of the day. Had we more time, I would have loved to experience the partnership program with the local schools and I am sad that we didn't build time into our trip to do that - hopefully another time...

What made Bernie a life saver though and where he went out of his way way beyond expectation was when I asked him about the last part of our trip which was to lead us to Jaco. I just wanted to make sure that the driving distance was not too much to make our departure flight on our last day. Bernie insisted that we cancel our reservation in Jaco because "during Holy Week all the crazies from San Jose were going to party in Jaco and you don't want to expose kids to that type of atmosphere". Boy, am I glad that we listened to him. He spent a long time on the phone to find a reasonable hotel for us at the beach during the busiest travel time in Costa Rica and in the end he booked us a room at the Gilded Iguana in Nosara Beach. It was the best experience, as authentic Costa Rican as you can get at the beach and we loved every minute spent there as well as at Pura Vida Hotel. Thank you, Bernie!!

As a gateway into Costa Rica we can highly, highly recommend this hotel and the wonderful host.

  • 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 ikebobike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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719 reviews from our community

Traveler rating
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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
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English first
Tring, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 13, 2012

We booked to spend our first night and last night in Costa Rica here at Pura Vida as it was near the airport.
It would be difficult to adequately express how fantastic this hotel is.

My wife and I booked Costa Rica fairly last minute and didn't really know what to expect. The information provided on this hotel's website was excellent, and after we booked our room the owner emailed us another information booklet which was extremely helpful. We were even able to book the Hire Car through this hotel. This process was basically the owner asking me which type of car i liked (with a price attached), us replying saying 'this one please' and that was it...done. No deposit or anything. I was a little nervous about this but the morning after we arrived the man from Toyota pitched up with the car and took payment for it. On the last day all i had to do was give the car keys to the owner and it was all done.
On our first night we got free upgrade to the nicest room (volcano) as they had a cancellation. The room (and the mariposta room) was lovely. Great coffee machine, coffee, nice shower (rare in costa rica), nice bed. Lovely decorations. The room has a wonderful booklet in it for information about costa rica and their own experiences. Very helpful. They really understand what people (especially those never travelled to Costa Rica before) need to know.
The next morning Berni gave us excellent directions to get to the east of the country, which at the seemed difficult to grasp but as we did the drive we figured out what he meant! 'What are we doing here?!'
Wonderful Hotel, wonderful people and great breakfast/food. The Area is ok, however, not the nicest town in Costa Rica. The only shame about the hotel is that it isnt on the coast or near Monteverde for example, but its perfect for location near the airport.

  • Stayed November 2012, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 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 Teambean14
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, December 16, 2012
Thanks so much for taking the time to review us and for the nice comments.

Also I think you now know you need not worry about Toyota and their support. As I mention in my email we have worked with Toyota for many years and they have been exemplary in their support (like finding cars for our guests in busy periods) or help in an emergency. Nice people too. When we travel, I believe car rental should not be a pain eh?

Thanks again for coming and for your comments,

Berni
Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Newport Beach
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 10, 2012

Berni, Nhi, and their staff were very welcoming and helpful to me and my wife. We flew into San Jose, but out of Liberia, so we only had one night at Pura Vida. In that time, we were provided a late-night cheese and vegetable platter upon arrival (prepared by people who know food, so don't think American cheese and a couple carrots); slept comfortably; enjoyed an excellent breakfast (one of the best of our trip); played with Bandit and Lola (sweet dogs at the property); got helpful travel advice from Berni; and received our rental car at the hotel (which Berni set up for us). This was an excellent jumping-off point for our C.R. adventure. Our only regret was not spending another night here, because it is such a quiet and relaxing spot.

  • Stayed November 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 Erik P
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
14 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 24, 2012

We spent four nights in the Mariposa Casita in June and July 2012. The hotel is a great place to begin and end your trip because it's a ten minute cab ride from the airport. It was a lovely place with beautiful grounds and a convenient location within a reasonable driving distance to many central highland sights. The complimentary breakfast was gorgeous, full of fresh fruit that we'd never tried before. My thirteen year-old son loved the guanabana juice. Berni is an excellent host, very knowledgeable and at times a bit enigmatic (but not in a bad way). He had great tips on local and more distant activities. We would definitely return.

  • Stayed June 2012, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank JDM101
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, December 16, 2012
Thanks for the comments and for taking the time to review the hotel.

Hopefully you'll be able to join us again one day for some more enigmatic fruit and tales of the neo-tropics :-))

Berni
Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Tilaran, Costa Rica
Level Contributor
44 reviews
13 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed November 3, 2012

We spent our last day of honeymoon here at Pura Vida Hotel. Just like the previous reviewer said, it IS a piece of Paradise. Although a little small, the ground was beautiful and well kept. Owner Berni and his four german sheppards came to greet us (I saw a negative review before saying about dogs roaming in the dining area. So if you're not a dog lover, this hotel is not for you. We did enjoy the company of them and the little ones kept us entertained while we waited for our food).
We originally booked for Orchid Room but it was under renovation so Berni gave us a free upgrade to the Rainforest Casita (Muchas gracias, Berni). The casita was very clean. Lovely and tastefully decorated with a queen bed and a single bed. There was no air conditioner but the temperature at night was actually quite cool so we did not need a/c at all. The ceiling fan was all we needed to keep air circulate. There was a little sitting area with a coffee table full of interesting books about Costa Rica. All the appliances were unplugged in order to maintain the "Think Green" spirit which we were very impressed. Underneath the sink, you would find a basket with a brush and a rag. They are for cleaning off the dirt from your shoes and clothes instead of using white towels (again, think green!).

As the hotel is close to town, you man hear noises from the road and people partying (especially Saturday night which happened to be the night we were staying, but the bed was soooo comfy that we just slept like a baby). The hotel provides you with ear plugs. Our private patio overlooks the garden. If it's sunny, you can even see the Poas volcano.

The hotel is 10 mins away from the airport. It is not a resort size of hotel but with the lush garden and stunning view of volcano, it’s perfect for first arrival and before departure.

I had made reservation for dinner before arrival which is highly recommended. Berni’s wife, Chef Nhi only cooks whatever is fresh in the market that day. You can let her know if you have any special requests or have allergy to anything and she will accommodate. Some reviewers complained about not being able to have dinner upon their arrival and that’s because they didn’t reserve it ahead of time. Price is $33 per person for a 3-course dinner. Some may find it expensive. We felt the dinner was very delicious and was almost custom made for us (it was tico asian fusion food).

Breakfast is included with fresh fruits, yogurt with granola (even my husband who hates the smell of yogurt had his thumbs up for this), and bread pudding. Fresh brewed coffee (El Rey which I find way better than Britt) was right on the counter whenever I was ready to enjoy. Pura Vida was certainly a hotel which I thought I made an excellent choice.

We didn't understand why some reviewers had negative comments about Berni. Perhaps these people were used to the all-inclusive style of greeting. We found Berni very friendly in a way that he would also give you your own space. At all-inclusive, sometimes we found the workers were way too "friendly" that they would stand at our table and wouldn't stop talking to us. We didn't find this in Costa Rica. We felt people are friendly and respectful.

We wish we could stay a little longer as there are many places around the area we wanted to go. Definitely recommend buying the coffee they have there (cheaper than in the stores, and airport only sells Britt). Berni is also active in helping local school kids to get more books. If you plan to stay at this hotel during your first stop, please consider bringing some books to him and he will bring them to the school (and then you'll have more room in your luggage for souvenirs :)) He's also active in a project which helps to save the beautiful birds, Great Green Macaw. Find out more on the hotel website.

Again, we wanted to thank Berni and Nhi for the wonderful hospitality. We wish we had more time to chat with you to find out your experience of moving to Costa Rica. Hope to see you again soon.

  • Stayed October 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?
2 Thank Karin L
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, December 16, 2012
Thanks so much for the detailed review!

They are much appreciated by us and by future guests trying to decide things like the need for air conditioning in the central valley at 3000 feet altitude (the reason for our temperate weather) or learning about some of the projects in the area like the local school and the macaw rescue project.

Thanks for writing about it all!
And thanks again for coming and bringing your good vibes to our peaceful country,

Berni
Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Rio de Janeiro
2 reviews
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 29, 2012

Great rooms (design, ammenities, cleanliness), helpful staff, beautiful and tasty breakfast, beautiful area. The garden is an atraction apart. If you rent a car, it is not far from the airport and a lot better than staying in crowded San José.

  • Stayed October 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 SilviaRioBrasil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Costa Rica
Level Contributor
29 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 28, 2012

We stayed at Pura Vida, again to enjoy the company of Berni and Nhi. We enjoyed the trip to the farmers market and one of a kind gourmet meals, boosting flavors infused from all parts of the world.
Thanks for a restful and relaxing stay!

  • Stayed October 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 CostaRicaSteveandDeb
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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