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“Hidden jewel” 4 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
Samara
Level Contributor
7 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Hidden jewel”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 13, 2007

We finally were able to stay at your wonderful hotel. What a nice retreat. Quiet, tranquil and beautiful. I was envious of your landscaping. Your rooms very nice, and hospitality warm.

I almost forgot about the food. Well worth the endulgence.

Thank you very much for a very nice stay.

Phyllis of the Fenix
Samara

Stayed April 2007
Helpful?
1 Thank Fenix_Samara
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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716 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 (127)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
St. Augustine, FL
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 12, 2007

We thoroughly enjoyed every moment of our time spent at Pura Vida...Berni and Nhi are the most accommodating and personable hoteliers in Costa Rica. We were met at the door step with smiles at 1:30am upon arrival, our room was upgraded, gorgeous views, sparkling bathrooms, comfortable beds with cozy pillows, delicious and carefully prepared meals, and friendly staff. To begin our trip, we were personally escorted by Berni to a nearby school to drop off donated school books! I was unprepared for such a lovely experience in San Jose/Alajuela. I highly recommed this hotel to all traveling to Costa Rica. btw- i love your dogs.

  • Liked — The Owners and the Room
  • Disliked — Nothing
  • Stayed August 2007, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank AcuDoctor
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Orlando, Florida
Level Contributor
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 8, 2007

July 19, 2007 Orlando, Florida. Teacher with student travelers

We (15 students and friends) stayed at Pura July 19, 2007 Orlando, Florida.
We (15 students and friends) stayed at Pura Vida in Alajuela, and as always, had a great experience. We arrived with an electrical outage, which might have created panic for ordinary owners. However, Nhi and Berni, as always, continued to cater to guests and cook by candle light. The electric returned in a couple of hours and dinner was served with little delay. It was superb and everyone ate heartedly!

Upon completion of dinner, the evening entertainment for our group arrived, two professional Cuban dancers. As always, their energy and talent captivated the entire group and everyone was soon dancing the new steps. They kept all the teens well entertained. It was a great dance lesson for $10.00 per person for the 2 hours of fun!

After dancing, everyone turned in around 10:30, as the central valley is often cool in the evenings. The individual casitas at Pura Vida allow everyone to have privacy. You are hardly aware that anyone else is around. The casitas have been and are being beautifully renovated. Berni and Nhi do an excellent job from top to bottom!

Breakfast begins in the morning at 7:00 usually. The coffee greats you and that is followed by a delicious orange/pineapple drink that I have only had at Pura Vida. It is refreshing and delicious! Then comes every type of fruit imaginable, followed by delicious breakfast bread. All is displayed in a very artistic manner. It is a delight to both eye and mouth.

The owners have worked hard to create a wonderful haven for travelers. Berni goes out of his way to answer questions and help with travel plans. His library on Costa Rica is extensive. Nhi compliments Berni with her beautiful cooking and presentation of the various meals.

Pura Vida is just that…Pura vida. Berni and Nhi are the hard working hosts to pull off a gourmet dinner with no electricity and keep everything under control. They make it look easy!
ida in San Jose and had a great experience. We arrived with an electrical outage, which might have created panic for ordinary owners. However, Nhi and Berni, as always, continued to cater to guests and cook by candle light. The electric returned in a couple of hours and dinner was served with little delay. It was superb and everyone ate heartedly!

Upon completion of dinner, the evening entertainment for our group arrived, two professional Cuban dancers. As always, their energy and talent captivated the entire group and everyone was soon dancing the new steps. They kept all the teens well entertained. It was a great dance lesson for $10.00 per person for the 2 hours of fun!

After dancing, everyone turned in around 10:30, as the central valley is often cool in the evenings. The individual casitas at Pura Vida allow everyone to have privacy. You are hardly aware that anyone else is around. The casitas have been and are being beautifully renovated. Berni and Nhi do an excellent job from top to bottom!

Breakfast begins in the morning at 7:00 usually. The coffee greats you and that is followed by a delicious orange/pineapple drink that I have only had at Pura Vida. It is refreshing and delicious! Then comes every type of fruit imaginable, followed by delicious breakfast bread. All is displayed in a very artistic manner. It is a delight to both eye and mouth.

The owners have worked hard to create a wonderful haven for travelers. Berni goes out of his way to answer questions and help with travel plans. His library on Costa Rica is extensive. Nhi compliments Berni with her beautiful cooking and presentation of the various meals.

Pura Vida is just that…Pura vida. Berni and Nhi are the hard working hosts to pull off a gourmet dinner with no electricity and keep everything under control. They make it look easy!

  • Liked — privacy, gardens, veranda for meals
  • Disliked — can't think of anything
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
Thank crest.2006
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Portland, OR
Level Contributor
18 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 27, 2007

This property is a great location for the traveler with a late night or early morning flight. It can also be used as a jumping off point for many daily activities.
My husband and I stayed in the Toucan casita our first night in Costa Rica. It is large and beautiful with a small patio that overlooks the garden. The proprietors offer wine & beer so we took them up on it as a prelude to visiting nearby Alajuela. The casita's sit down on the slopes of the property and it was extremely quiet. The breakfast of fresh fruits, wonderful juice and pastries with delicious fresh brewed coffee on the upper veranda overlooking the valley is spectacular.
During our stay in Costa Rica we returned to Pura Vida (we were stuck in a downpour and needed a place for one night). Luckily they had a room but it was not a casita, it was the Volcano Room. Although this room has a nice view of the valley, it is VERY noisy. The hotel is on what would appear to be a country road, but at night it sounded like a freeway. The room still offers the great breakfast and the hospitality of the wonderful owners but if you can afford the extra dollars - experience Pura Vida in one of the Casitas.

  • Liked — Location
  • Disliked — Noise
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank sinisterhaley
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Madison, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 23, 2007

We recently stayed at the Pura Vida hotel the night before our departure from Costa Rica. The hotel was very conveniently located to the airport-- we were there in just a few minutes, no traffic or hassles. From the time we first contacted Bernie to inquire about availability he was amazingly responsive, offered many suggestions for travel and itinerary and we LOVE that Pura Vida is attempting to go beyond just tourist catering to try and help their visitors experience the "real" Costa Rica. Thanks to Bernie's suggestions we ended up visiting the Doka coffee estate for a really great and informative tour-- one of the highlights of our trip! We also LOVE that the hotel is as community oriented as it is-- Bernie and Nhi organize book collections to give books to schools and really do want to try and help their guests find an "authentic" experience.

The rooms were large, clean, and comfortable. The grounds were very pretty and the staff even got up early at 5:30 to provide us with a "to-go" breakfast the morning of our departure. The only slight downside is that you can hear a bit of traffic from the road-- but this quieted down significantly after 6-ish. Given the convenience of the location, the friendliness of the staff and the more than comfortable rooms we really can't recommend them highly enough.

  • Liked — convenience to airport, great jumping off spot to explore the rest of costa rica or for getting to early morning flights
  • Disliked — We forgot to sign up in advance for dinner the night we were staying-- don't forget to do that!
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank JCMN_7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Parkland / Boca
Level Contributor
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
1 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 18, 2007

We stayed at Pura Vida upon our arrival in San Jose and our first experience was pleasant. Except for the fact 3 large german shapards run around the kitchen and eating areas. I felt this was not acceptable. Not everyonew wants to eat with a dog running around. Entry and lobby smells strongly of dogs.
Despite the dog issue all was fine.
When we were returning for our flight home we decided to stay our last night at Pura Vida. This room was VERY unpleasant. I was shocked. it was beyond dirty, walls and baseboards were rotten and filthy. There was a dead cockroach in our shower and I felt like I was staying in a roadside 1930's motel that had no renovation. Drapes were so old they were faded and actually rotten. Worst all after this disappointment . That night we were invited to join a dance lesson on the patio by an employee. After the dance lesson which we watched more then participate we were informed we owed $10 each for the lessons! When I spoke to the owner - she said it was not her problem and I must take care of it. We had no idea we were being charged for the lesson !
In the morning the breakfast was good and enjoyable BUT the room is so close to a neighbor that we were woke up at 6:00 AM by the neighbor making his morning coffee - we could actually hear him stirring the cup of coffee - really ! Then after hearing every move of the neighbor he started his car which was parked next to room with big ZOOM and noise he was gone - quiet at last , 7;00 time to get up!
We were treated rude and like we were a burden to the owners. My daughter saw them drinking alot, perhaps this is a problem?
I highly suggest finding another location to lay your head.

Stayed June 2007
Helpful?
5 Thank jonil
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, August 9, 2007
This review, in our opinion, contains allegations that are not true. The details are below.

We have been very well reviewed on TripAdvisor and appreciate the service. There are 62 reviews since the first in May 2004. Where we have had problems, we have immediately investigated and resolved them to the best of our ability AND answered them on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor tends to keep us on our toes. And we credit TripAdvisor reviews, as well as our staff and other guests’ input for our continued improvements in the property and our service.

We work very hard to please those who arrive on our doorstep any time of day or night.

The allegations by this guest were the result of the Pura Vida Hotel not interceding in a $30 transaction between the guest and a third party while on hotel premises.

The guest was charged $10 each for her party of 3 by a privately hired dance instructor for a dance lesson which they attended but had not been invited to. The dance lesson was part of a private party held on hotel premises but organized separately by a group of 16 guests staying at the hotel that night. The hotel did not hire the dance instructor nor did we participate in the event except to provide the space and dinner for the guests.

The guest's subject line "Rude owners with drinking problem - Dirty, no A/C room with bugs for $135!" is not true. We thank TripAdvisor for allowing us at least a response. Specifically on one easily verifiable fact the guest credit card receipt that night was for $94.61 for 3 persons including taxes, breakfast and internet usage. These charges were made in Costa Rican currency at the local exchange rate of 520 colones to the dollar charged to the guests’s credit card. The guests cost was in fact $94.61, not $135. All our prices are very clear on our detailed web site. This guest "fact" is not true.

As for the lack of air conditioning in rooms, the guest knew that we do not have or need A/C from the first night she stayed with us a week earlier (and she returned anyway). We never advertise A/C. A/C is not needed in this part of Costa Rica and at our altitude of 3000 feet. The hotel web site states ceiling fans are in all rooms and we provide layouts of each Casita on the web page "ROOMS". We take the guest’s decision to stay a second time at the Pura Vida Hotel (even without prior reservation for the night in question) as a sign that she was satisfied with her first stay.

As for the "rudeness" allegation, we were never “rude” to the guest in any way. Specifically my wife told the guest that she needed to talk to the third party whose services she had used and that we could not intervene. The guest alleges we were "rude" which is untrue and no example is cited by the guest. We told her we could not intervene in a third party matter.

The thing we take major offense to is the allegation of "drunken proprietors". This is outrageous and is not even something observed first hand by the guest - as in the guest statement in her review “My daughter saw them drinking alot, perhaps this is a problem?”. This is not true nor observed by the guest in her review.

This is a small hotel with personal service - we live on premise and interact with guests seven days a week, and are available 24 hours. Any irrational behavior on our part would have surely been observed by previous guests, a number of which have posted reviews on TripAdvisor about us. Even our three German shepherds have been reviewed very favorably in some of the 62 reviews posted. The guest knows we have dogs and many of our reviews talk favorably about other guests interaction with the dogs.

We would also like to point out that the guest and her two daughters were on hotel premises for a total of about 30 hours (including sleeping time) during both stays. None of our previous guests – some of whom have stayed for several consecutive days and on multiple occasions – have observed a “drinking problem” because this statement is simply not true.

That particular night the hotel was full and we were very busy.

As far as room cleanliness goes, we have consistent TripAdvisor reviews for spotlessly clean rooms and gardens. The guest states in her review that “Drapes were so old they were faded and actually rotten”. This again is not true and we feel is triggered by her being upset about the third party charge again. The guest stayed in the Mariposa Casita that night. As soon as we got the review we inspected every inch of the Casita. 4 of the 10 curtain panels did have some fading as they are in direct sunlight on the front of the Casita. We have made a full set of 10 panels and they have been replaced. Their design may not have pleased the guest, but that would not make them “rotten” since none of the curtain panels had a single mark on them – except for some fading each panel was perfect. The allegation of "rotten panels" is just not true.

This review is all about a transaction between this guest and a third party who had been hired by another guest to conduct a dance class. Our guest got upset with us for not intervening. The other guest in question has already provided a statement of the situation that evening in the hotel and exactly what happened from her perspective to TripAdvisor.

In the meantime, we will do everything we can to ensure a positive experience to all our guests. We do our darndest to provide an environment guests will enjoy at the Pura Vida Hotel – something that most of the reviews already attest to. Our personal mission is to create a hotel atmosphere and environment that "we would love to stay at". We appreciate the opportunity both to respond and to improve our premises and services.

Thank you.
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Colorado
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed July 15, 2007

Pura Vida Hotel is elegant, yet feels like home. We stayed in the Toucan Casita which was roomy, bright, joyously decorated and spotlessly clean. The Casitas are reached by a rock path which meanders down a hillside garden filled with specimen plantings, with a view across the valley to Volcan Poas. Our only regret is that we planned our stay for only one night. A return trip to Costa Rica will start at the Pura Vida Hotel.

  • Stayed June 2007
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank For_kids_books
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, July 21, 2007
Muchas Gracias "kids books" for the kind comments . . . and though we don't know who you are I'll bet you are one of the many kind guests who brought books for the local escuela. Where there was once nothing at all we now have an excellent working and well maintained library at the school thanks entirely due to guest donations. Thanks again! Berni
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative 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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