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“Fabulous introduction to Costa Rica”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 65 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 11 April 2011

My husband and I stayed at Pura Vida for several nights at the start of our Costa Rica vacation -- and it was among the highlights of the 10-day trip. Only a brief taxi ride from the international airport, innkeepers Berni and Nhi have created a tiny paradise: lush garden, exquisite butterflies and birdsong, orchids everywhere. Our room (Mariposa cottage, at the foot of the garden) was larger than we needed and utterly private. Not knowing what to do on our first day, we took Berni's advice and signed up for the market tour followed by dinner using fresh market produce -- and it was a home run. Even if you do not cook, you do not want to miss the huge market, where each piece of fruit on the tidily arranged piles is glorious perfection, and the vendors cheerfully offer samples. Nhi's cooking is amazing as well, and breakfast -- on the delightful patio adjoining the main house -- is ample and delicious. We cannot say enough good things about this place -- did I mention the free wifi? When we needed a taxi for the two-hour trip to the port of Caldera, Berni arranged it -- and a charming, English-speaking driver named Sterling gave us a first-rate guided tour of the local towns along the way. Okay, the water pressure wasn't great...but all in all, Pura Vida represents everything that a small inn should be.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank NancyBmillvalley_CA
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 April 2011

Let me just preface this review with the statement that San Jose is nuts! Less than 15 minutes from the airport is a slice of Paradise that is the real Costa Rica. Forget San Jose! At Pura Vida you come expecting a nice place based on Trip Advisor but you get so much more! Berni and Nhi have created a slice of Costa Rica that only the lucky and smart travelers will find. It starts with the very helpful instructions on getting there along with the free cab and welcome drink that is part and parcel with their national motto-" Pura Vida" which means Pure Life. The grounds are beautiful with a tropical and exotic ambience that includes the homey casitas. You also get some world class chefs in your hosts. Nhi made us dinner both nights that were super fresh and delicious.You can believe all the reviews-You'll only be disappointed if you miss out! ( you have to book dinner ahead of time)
Out of his very busy schedule Berni took us on a tour of the local school they've adopted where we were treated like rock stars. All it takes are a few books (in your suitcases) to help the kids out!
On our first morning we had booked a white water rafting trip that meant we had to be up at 5:00! Berni met us with breakfast to go which were eagerly shared with our fellow rafters.
Unfortunately I didn't have the foresight to book a couple of nights at the end of our journey with Pura Vida!

Room Tip: We loved the Rainforest Casita and the Mariposa
See more room tips
  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Flwaterbaby
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 9 April 2011

We began our Central American adventure at The Pura Vida and could not have been happier. My teenage daughter did not want to leave and took photos of everything before I could pry her away- lovely (and clean and unique) room, tropical garden, charming restaurant/breakfast terrace, private hammock, etc. Since we arrived on a Friday, we went on the optional Market Tour with to buy supplies and to sample fresh coconut milk ( in the coconut), tropical fruits, fresh sugar cane juice, etc. Innkeepers Bernie and Ne (sp?) just loaded us into the car and whisked us off with them - we were instantly part of the action. They explained everything with intelligence and humor. A few hours later, we enjoyed the optional and absolutely fresh dinner made with the ingredients from the market dining and overlooking the hotel garden. Talented chef. Delicious and great fun.

The breakfasts of fresh tropical fruits, fresh sweet breads, yogurt, juices, and the famous Costa Rican coffee began our days. No hotel buffets of corn flakes here - just friendly service with answers to any questions you might have before starting your day. They arranged just about everything we needed from a custom tour of the nearby highlands to evening restaurant reservations (hard to beat the hotel itself but they don't serve every night) to a free pick up at the nearby (5-10 minutes) San Jose Airport.

We can't imagine staying at any other place at the beginning or end of any trip to Costa Rica. There is simply no reason to sacrifice precious vacation time in a soulless airport hotel coming or going when you can get this. Read their excellent and thorough website for all kinds of terrific, accurate and entertaining advice before you go. They'll put you in the right mood to begin or savor the end of your Pura Vida experience in Costa Rica.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled with family
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Thank Robert58350
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 April 2011

This is our 3rd time staying at the Pura Vida Hotel and as the first two, this one was superb, right down to the gi-normous breakfast before we left for the airport We finished the breakfast nonetheless.

We stayed in the Volcano Room (our favorite) and had a wonderful evening with an excellent bottle of Berni's wine. We were sadly at the end of a two week stay in Costa Rica and very much in need of a relaxing evening. The Pura Vida Hotel is the perfect place to do this, or begin the trip as we did our first time in Costa Rica.

We'll be sure and stay a few days next time because there are some excellent day trips to be had from the Pura Vida Hotel. We missed the Doka Coffee Tour this trip, but will plan to make that one next time. In short - we love this place!

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank ds6235
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 April 2011

We stay at Pura Vida in the Volcano Room during our last night in Costa Rica! The rooms are decorated in a modern style -beautiful, clean, and comfortable. As soon as we arrived, we were longing for one more night in Costa Rica. This was definitely the nicest placed we stayed during our week long vacation.

Make sure to reserve a spot for dinner. The reviews are all true, the food is fantastic! Nhi is a fabulous cook and prepared a beautiful 3-course meal consisting of a cool melon soup, fish entree, and cream puff dessert. What a great way to end our vacation! We would definitely come again.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank rxpotato
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 March 2011

The Pura Vida Hotel is minutes from the San Jose Airport, which makes it an ideal stopoff on the way into or out of Costa Rica. The owner, Berni, brims with useful information about all things travel- and Costa Rica-related, and gave us wonderful ideas for local day trips, excursions farther afield, and the logistics of managing anything. He arranged a car rental for us that was seamless, and was good humored and accommodating throughout. On our way out, he arose at the crack of dawn to see us off and to equip us with breakfast-to-go.

We stayed in a large, well-furnished and comfortable casita, nestled in the lovely walled garden. There was street noise at night, but also birdsong in the morning. The breakfasts were multi-course affairs, beginning with fresh juices, followed by an artfully arranged fruit platter, tasty baked things and an outstanding omelette. All washed down with excellent coffee.

  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled with family
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Thank Jfromboston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 March 2011

My husband and I stayed at Pura Vida in the Volcano Suite (lovely view overlooking the grounds and wonderfully indulgent for two people) for four nights at the beginning of our Costa Rican vacation this January 2011...family emergency upon arrival back home delayed this review............. We chose the hotel based on a Moon Guide review and the hotel’s entertaining, easy to navigate website.
Berni and Nhi’s place is a perfect oasis and a lovely introduction to Costa Rica. The grounds are beautiful, the staff are friendly and helpful, breakfast (included) is tasty and the atmosphere relaxing, Nhi skills in the kitchen are amazing and, as stated in others reviews, Bernie goes out of his way to assist with travel or tour plans. We connected, through Bernie, with two different tour guides who more than exceeded expectations. We also “signed up” for the Friday afternoon farmers market adventure and subsequent Friday evening supper.........a fun day and an exquisite meal.
If you do book at Pura Vida..................stay for longer than overnight, you won’t be disappointed.

  • Stayed: January 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank Judy4Joe
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

Address: Tuetal Sur | 4km North of SJO International Airport, Alajuela 20101, Costa Rica
Phone Number:
Region: Costa Rica > Province of Alajuela > Alajuela
Amenities:
Business Centre with Internet Access Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Suites Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 65 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price Range: £71 - £138 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
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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