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“I only wish they had a pool”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 60 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Tucson, Arizona
Level 5 Contributor
56 reviews
20 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“I only wish they had a pool”
Reviewed 2 July 2013

The Pura Vida was our landing and departing hotel. We got in kind of late so we ordered the late night supper. It was waiting for us along w/ a bottle of champagne be/c we were celebrating birthdays. And as Bernie says...they like to celebrate. We didn't want to go running of the next morning so we stayed 2 nights. The dinner of lamb at the hotel the next night was very good. 2 tours were recommended to us. The ARA Project was very interesting. We trooped around the grounds with about 20 dogs in tow. I didn't feel the Doka coffee plantation was really worth $20 though. The driver Bernie arranged was great. Drove us around and told us all sorts of interesting things. I'm sorry to say I have forgotten his name. We stayed in the Toucan room on the way in and the Mariposa on the way out. Both rooms were clean and welcoming. We did have one small problem on the way in but it was taken care of by the time we got back 3 weeks later. That was a dog named Lola. She was completely out of control. Our transportation to the airport was arranged for us and on time both times. I would recommend staying here to anyone.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank wanttotravelmore123
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, 8 July 2013
Thanks so much for the nice review.

The guide you mentioned is named Sterling - he has been our main guide for 10 years and started with us as a taxi driver. Since then he has employed a number of his family as drivers and guides for the hotel and has become an expert in the flora and fauna of Costa Rica while always welcoming guests with a big smile and a joke or two. This is in line with the Pura Vida policy of requesting that at least one member of guests families include someone with a sense of humor :-))

For those who prefer a different more "earthy" coffee experience we also recommend El Toledo coffee - much more detail here on the "my village tour" on our website. Probably the finest (and best reviewed) coffee experience in Costa Rica - near Atenas and #1 on TripAdvisor.

As for Lola (a young German Shepherd), we tried to work with her for a year with training and support but it did not work out. Luckily she has a new home with Carlos our manager. She was way to frisky for some guests and now is happy as a lark 10 km away with the family of Carlos in a large compound getting plenty of love and attention. The campus at Pura Vida is quieter now with our 2 geriatric shepherds, Max and Yaggi and a new friend Bandit who lives up to his name stealing mangoes, lemons and sticks from the other shepherds.

Thanks again for the nice review, we appreciate your visit and time taken to talk about it,

Berni
Manager
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765 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (144)
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English first
Siesta Key, Florida
Level 3 Contributor
9 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 July 2013

Welcomed by Carlos, an immediate "old friend" his face framed by a huge smile, we were at once at home at the Pura Vida Hotel. This gem of an oasis tucked into the maze of Alajuela is worth seeking out. Our family ended a storybook vacation with 4 adult children in this magical enclave appropriately named, Pura Vida. Hotel?? Not like any "hotel" I've seen. The individual casitas were equipped to the max with every possible thought and detail to make the traveller feel especially pampered. For the dog lovers, Pura Vida comes amply equipped with resident canines who add to the homey feel. The compound embraces one with the safety and beauty of what we are reminded a family homestead should be. Lovely, Friendly, Familiar.

I think of our journey every day and cannot wait to return. I shall begin and end my next pilgrimage to Costa Rica, the country of magic, with Pura Vida Hotel & my new "old" friend Carlos shall welcome me once again.

  • Stayed June 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank marciacarlsonpack
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, 8 July 2013
We, and Carlos, thank you for your excellent review.

Part of what makes a visit to a hotel is the hotel itself which is a bit like a vehicle. The other more important part is the guests themselves. You brought your good vibes to the Pura Vida and somehow they fitted us perfectly as we were the right vehicle for your family.

Thanks again for coming and we look forward to your return visit - there is a lot to see in this little country of ours,

Berni
Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Charleston, South Carolina
Level 3 Contributor
13 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
Reviewed 31 May 2013

...and have been staying there ever since. We are usually coming up from the southern part of Costa Rica for a last night before the flight out. Berni and the staff are always helpful and friendly.
We especially enjoy the dinners. In the old days the dinner was served only on Friday nights. Now they have it nightly. This boutique hotel and restaurant rarely serves more than 10 guests so the food is carefully watched over. One memorable occasion involved dinner of fresh salmon cooked to perfection, beautifully flavored vegetables and an eclair topped with cacao nibs. We were then informed that the guests sitting at the table next to us were the owners of the cacao plantation who were friends of Berni and Chef Nhi. It was their cacao nibs that were sprinkled on the eclairs. That is some attention to detail.
We have never had anything less than a great stay at Pura Vida. In fact we just confirmed another reservation today.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Frank F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chesapeake, Virginia
Level 6 Contributor
128 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 608 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 May 2013

We spent 3 nights here at the end of our 2 week stay in Costa Rica. We were driving in from Manuel Antonio and the directions Berni provided were spot on, even in a country where road signs are virtually nil. We stayed in the Rainforest Casita which was a lovely, spacious suite with beautiful views of the garden. We decided to make an early morning go for the Poas Volcano our first morning so we had a "to go" breakfast prepared for us which we took up the mountain and enjoyed enroute. Our next two days we enjoyed the traditional breakfast which included an amazing fruit tray, fresh pineapple juice, yogurt with granola, and a type of bread pudding with rum sauce....yum! We also opted for dinner on our last night and Nhi gave us an incredible meal - definitely worth the $33 per person and a highlight of our trip! Talking with Berni, Nhi, and Carlos was wonderful...they are involved and caring and definitely want to ensure that you have an enjoyable time. There are shelves of Costa Rica guidebooks and we utilized them to make our plans during our stay, along with input from Berni, Nhi, and Carlos. We learned about the big Cartago "curse" and the chance the team had to break the curse and win for the first time in 73 years (sadly, they did not). It's that kind of thing that makes you feel like a part of the extended family - you don't get that in a big hotel.

  • Stayed May 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Suzski
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Bellevue, Washington
Level 2 Contributor
8 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 May 2013

This is a wonderful, central place to stay while in Costa Rica. It is a quick cab ride to and from the airport and the casitas are lovely and perfectly appointed. What makes this perfect though, is the wonderful care and information the hosts provide. Berni went out of his way to provide information on another area we wanted to visit, and his assistance with the Toyota car rental was seamless. He arranged to have the rental car delivered to the door of our friend's home in a town about 20 miles away. The Rental was exactly as promised and no surprises! Apparently this hassel free service isn't the norm in Costa Rica. If we didn't stay with friends ,we would use the Pura Vida as home base. This is our second stay and we will return.

Room Tip: Don't choose the Volcano suite for a Saturday night. It sits up high and every motorcycle in the...
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  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Barbara L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New Jersey
Level 3 Contributor
7 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 May 2013

A few months before a conference I was attending in Costa Rica, I learned that I would have the opportunity to travel a bit before and after the conference. Never having been to Costa Rica before, I started exploring the possibilities. After reading these reviews on TripAdvisor, I e-mailed Berni and -- even though I had not yet made any commitment to staying at Pura Vida -- he was generous with his attention to my questions and his remarkable knowledge of the area.

He provided a connection with Esterling Alvarado, a.k.a. Sterling, who was our driver and guide for the 'after' part of my traveling. (See separate review in Costa Rica Driving Private Tours.)

As it turned out, I stayed only one night at Pura Vida, the last night before I was to return home. It was -- as so many reviewers have noted -- a wonderful place to stay. It seemed a shame that I had only one night to spend there! Berni arranged for our 'last night in Costa Rica' evening out together, we had a wonderful breakfast, and the taxis arrived in good time -- and we got to the airport without a problem.

Next time I travel to Costa Rica I plan to arrive at -- and depart from -- San Jose Airport. And I plan to stay at Pura Vida on both occasions!

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank AnnS465
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Charlotte, North Carolina
1 review
Reviewed 24 May 2013

We enjoyed both our nights at the Pura Vida. Swinging in a hammock with a cold beer the night we arrived and enjoying a fabulous dinner the night before we left. The rooms were unique and inviting, the gardens lovely and the hosts accommodating. It is the perfect way to start and end your trip.

  • Stayed April 2013, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Tina T
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: Tuetal Sur | 4km North of SJO International Airport, Alajuela 20102, 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 60 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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