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“An oasis near the airport”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 61 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
293 reviews
43 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 85 helpful votes
“An oasis near the airport”
Reviewed 2 April 2014

Arriving at the San Jose airport late at night, wading through the dozens and dozens of cab drivers shouting at you in spanish all trying to get you to take their taxi can be a bit daunting. Pura Vida had e-mailed explicit directions which cab to take, how to find them and a short orange taxi ride, I arrived at the hotel. I was greeted by the owner, given a quick introduction to the hotel and ushered to my room. The room was very nice, clean and comfortable. The next morning I awoke refreshed and ready for further travels. The included breakfast is somewhat limited (I am allergic to dairy so the yogurt and bread/cake I could not eat), but the tropical fruit plate and fresh juice was delicious. I did not have dinner here, but from all reports the food is excellent. Take time to walk the gardens of Pura Vida, they are lovely and create a green oasis full of orchids, bougainvillea, herbs and palm trees.. I wondered why there was a basket with earplugs in the bathroom. A word of advice, use them, morning comes early to the tropics and between the loud birds, cicadas, airplanes taking off and landing and traffic noise, it will be an early start for you too, unless you are one of those people who can sleep through anything !

  • Stayed March 2014, travelled on business
    • Value
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    • Cleanliness
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Helpful?
1 Thank daanddo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (139)
Date | Rating
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English first
Fitchburg, Wisconsin, United States
Level Contributor
57 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 March 2014

This is great bed and breakfast just 10 minutes from the SJO airport in Costa. We enjoyed many of its fabulous aspects. However, a few very serious negatives pulled this down to just a "very good" rating. First the many wonderful pros: 1) gracious and enjoyable hosts; 2) beautiful large back yard with many plants and birds made this a paradise of its own just 10 minutes from the airport; 3) excellent food - the breakfast was very good, but the dinner the night before beat the breakfast by far - it was as good or better than any food we had in Costa Rica; 4) the casita we stayed in (Katydid) was attractive, featured nice amenities (with 2 bathrooms with showers for the two bedrooms), and was clean; 5) loved the two german shepherds, especially Bandit, who loved to play fetch with any stick, mango fruit or other object he could find on the property. Now for the very significant cons. First, traffic noise was just terrible. The reason this review is titled "Paradise Almost Lost" is the invasive sounds of traffic nearly spoiled the relaxing feeling of sitting in the back yard and enjoying the beautiful natural setting created by the hosts. It seems motorcycles (I could swear they had no mufflers) would come by throttling their engines at maxim capacity about ever 5 minutes. The noise continued into the night, which made sleep difficult. I was able to sleep with a pillow over my head (learned from years of sleeping with a snorer), so I can't downgrade it too badly. But if you plan to stay there on a Saturday night and you are sensitive to traffic noise, then don't. The casita even had a note that earplugs were available for Saturday nights, so we must have hit that square on. The second big negative was the double/queen bed in the main bedroom. I generally think hotel beds are too hard, but this one was like a rock. But worse than that, anytime my wife moved on the bed, the whole structure (not just the mattress) moved, so that woke me up a few times. My two adult children sleeping in the other room on twin beds said the beds in that room were great, so it may just be this one bed in this one casita that really should be replaced. The pull out couch for my teen daughter was pretty bad. These are often not very good at hotels, but this one was tilted toward the feet at an angle of about 5-10 degrees and she could feel the springs quite well through the little mattress. Normally, these negatives would have caused me to give this place a poor rating; however, the positives in this bed and breakfast were so positive, that I felt it deserved a "very good" rating. With a few changes to the bed and pull out and probably if you stay on another evening, this rating would be excellent.

Room Tip: Avoid Katydid if you have a family of 5 and plan to have 2 in the main bedroom and 1 on the pull out...
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Ken H
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, 17 April 2014
We are glad you enjoyed most of your stay with us. I do want to address the two issues you had - yes it was noisy that Saturday evening with some boys playing on motorcycles. Yes that does happen in Costa Rica but most nights they go to bed and all is quiet later on. We are 10 minutes from the second largest city in Costa Rica and civilization does impinge on our lives some nights. The Katydid Casita is the closest to the road but we do try to mitigate the natural environment by providing an oasis for our guests. We appreciate your positive comments and ratings.

So far most of our guests have enjoyed the large rooms of the Katydid Casita and so far we have not had complaints about the mattress. We try to please the majority of our guests with our decisions on rooms and amenities. I checked the bed and it is indeed a firm mattress with box spring which most guests prefer. I have now done an informal survey of other guests for their opinions on this bed to make sure - we just got a really good Tripadvisor review for that Casita and indirectly that mattress, but I will ask more people how they feel about the firm bed and then decide. We do appreciate your comment and listen and act.

Finally the extra pull out bed is a standard variety double pull out convertible couch - many families appreciate this facility and we do mention this in our web site and email. Otherwise we have checked the "tilt" and it appears to be level. Also our staff, when there are 5 or 6 people in this Casita, provide an extra mattress pad for the pull out bed to help mitigate the pull out mattress. I'm not sure if you had that that night on the bed? If you can let me know directly that would be great. In the meantime I'm going to see if there is a thicker pad we can get. We'd much rather be "Paradise Found" and do whatever we can to provide a Costa Rican experience and not just a "place to stop over".

Our goal simply at the Pura Vida Hotel is to offer a "place where we would like to stay". This idea helps form every decision we make and we take your comments to heart. Thanks for staying with us and taking the time to comment and nonetheless giving us a good review.

Berni
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
england
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 March 2014 via mobile

Pura Vida hotel was the ideal way to start (and end) our first time to Costa Rica. Our flight was delayed by 3 hours so we ended up arriving very late to the hotel but we were greeted warmly and made to feel right at home as soon as we arrived. We received a room upgrade and a yummy snack before retiring to our excellently appointed and very clean accommodation. The gardens at Pura Vida are lovely and well worth a walk around. There are thoughtful touches in the decor which really give you a sense of Costa Rica even if like us you have arrived in the dark very late at night. The next morning we had to leave very early to catch an internal flight, we were given a tasty packed breakfast and a taxi was waiting to collect us after a very restful night's sleep. We stayed here again another night before our flight home and had a bit more time to soak in the gardens and watch the many birds over a delicious papaya welcome drink. We were recommended an awesome Mexican restaurant for dinner which we really enjoyed too. I can't fault this place and we will certainly be back again on our next visit to Costa Rica.

Stayed March 2014, travelled as a couple
Helpful?
Thank travel17483
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
11 reviews
8 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 18 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 March 2014

Hotel Pura Vida is THE place to begin and end a trip to Costa Rica--and it is an outstanding destination in itself. The owners go out of their way to ensure a no-hassle experience--and one that is also unusually enjoyable. On their website and when you arrive, they give you all the information you could possibly need to have a great Costa Rican experience, from other wonderful bed and breakfasts in other parts of the country where they have personally stayed, to how you can help a local school. They will pay for your taxi from the international airport (only ten minutes away) and arrange for your rental car--and they know whether or not you will need four- wheel drive where you are going. The individual casitas are full of Costa Rican crafts, and each has a private sitting area in the garden to watch the hummingbirds and blue morpho butterflies. Orchids hang overhead in the dining area, and many plants on the grounds are labeled.
Most outstanding are their dinners, some of the best food I have ever had in fifty years of traveling. My traveling companion is allergic to fish, but they have never made her feel that this was a problem in devising the menu. I recommending ordering their dinners every night you can. They also provide coffee makers and excellent coffee in every casita for early risers.
The owners and staff make you feel like valued guests, and that they are delighted you are visiting their country.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank zxccaq
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Saskatoon, Canada
Level Contributor
25 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2014

We stayed at the Pura Vida Hotel on the first and last nights of our holiday last month, and it definitely is the best hotel I've ever stayed at in Alajuela! It's only minutes away from the airport, and even though Alajuela can be quite busy and hectic, you would never know it once you're on the hotel grounds. It's a beautiful property with lots of trees and plants, with the rooms being spread out, giving each casita lots of privacy. We stayed in both the Katydid and the Toucan rooms on our two nights. We definitely loved the Katydid more, as it's the bigger casita with two bedrooms and a little living area. It has great big windows and and a good layout as well, definitely spend a little more to get this one! Our Toucan room was also great, we just preferred the first room.

The service we received at Pura Vida was some of the best on our trip. Bernie was extremely helpful, and arranged a bus for our group to take on our first day to the mountains (we did this through email beforehand). He also called cabs for us during our night in Alajuela, and recommended Jalapenos restaurant, which was some of our favourite food of the trip! The restaurant is only a $4 cab ride from the hotel at most, definitely worth it! They also serve a great breakfast every morning, it was delicious and enough food to fuel our day of traveling on a bus.

When we were leaving at 5am for the airport at the end of our trip, Bernie was up to call us a cab and had breakfast to go for us, which was really appreciated once we were standing in line at the airport.

Overall, you should choose this hotel when debating between hotels close to the airport. I've stayed in a handful of them now, and this is by far the best service, nicest property, and overall best quality experience I've had in any of them. It's a very relaxing stay which is perfect for coming off of a long flight or getting ready to leave the county, and everything is so organized here that you won't have to worry about anything. Thanks again Pura Vida Hotel!

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank volcom146
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oakdale, Minnesota
Level Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 1 March 2014

My wife and I spent two weeks traveling around Costa Rica, and stayed with Berni and Nhi on two occasions. Not only is the location convenient to the airport, but it’s also close to several destinations and centrally located, so it makes a great mid-point stopover or home base. Multiple things set Pura Vida apart, but first and foremost is the amount of information that Berni graciously supplies, both as you plan your trip and when you are there. If you haven’t already, browse his website - the information is both current and complete, and you’ll get a taste of his humor. Attention to service and friendliness is also a hallmark of the staff, and this is not always the norm at other Costa Rican hotels. Next, the food and grounds are exquisite. Breakfasts start with a big fresh fruit plate and finish with a variety of things like yogurt and French toast, and the gourmet dinner was among the best we had in Costa Rica (reserve in advance --see below). And you can spend hours browsing the orchids and other plants on the grounds. Finally, as I rarely see this mentioned in reviews, I want to point out that Berni and Nhi are not just in this to make money for themselves; they enjoy what they do, and they are also concerned that the local community benefits from their endeavors, though they don’t make a big deal of it. They will direct you to local establishments and destinations that may well turn into highlights of your trip, and you won’t find those without their help.

A note about meals, as some comments on TripAdvisor aren’t fully accurate. Pura Vida does not run a “public restaurant.” Meals are served to guests only. They plan accordingly and buy fresh local produce and meats. Breakfasts start at 7:30, giving them time to prepare really nice meals with a lot of attention paid to presentation. My wife’s a coffee snob, and she says Berni’s coffee was the best. If you want to get on the road earlier, just tell them and they prepare a “to go” package. If you want dinner there, reserve it in advance; again, this allows them to plan and acquire the right amount and best variety of food. Nhi prepares an amazing 3 course meal, which we highly recommend. If you eat two meals at Pura Vida in one day, you won’t need more. If you just have breakfast, ask Berni for dinner suggestions – he sent us to Jalapeno’s Central one night and C-Vichito y Mas on another. Check out the reviews, and you’ll see that you can trust his recommendations.

Regarding accommodations – the casitas are very nicely appointed and laid out, clean, spacious, and well-separated from each other. I doubt “noisy or nosy neighbors” would ever be an issue. Also, although we are not dog owners, we enjoyed all three German shepherds. Bandit is amusing, and the other two are getting up in years, so they mostly stay out of the way. All three appreciate any attention you give them, but as with any large dog, you should make sure any children interact appropriately with them. I suspect these dogs provide a level of security for the grounds, though I don’t recall ever hearing them bark. It is true that Pura Vida is in an urban area and located next to a fairly busy road. You can’t see any road from anywhere inside the grounds, but you can certainly hear the traffic and especially the scooters. If you are a light sleeper, take advantage of the ear plugs they offer, and you shouldn’t be bothered, even with the windows open. If that sounds like an inconvenience to you, you might want to consider another location to avoid the chance of disappointment.

We hope you get the chance to enjoy Pura Vida’s hospitality – from Berni, Nhi, Carlos, Juan, and others we can’t name. It is equal to what we received at the Ylang Ylang Beach Resort in Montezuma (which we also recommend, and found via Berni’s website), and orders of magnitude better than what we received at the much pricier La Mansion Inn in Quepos. The attitude and attentiveness of your hosts can make or break your stay at any location, and at Pura Vida, you won’t be disappointed. Pura vida!

Room Tip: We loved Mariposa Casita, but not sure you could go wrong with any choice!
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Dave H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level Contributor
9 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 February 2014

Flew into SJ in the afternoon and got to the hotel with directional help from Carlos. Room was clean and comfortable. Went to dinner at Jalapenos in Alajuela which was recommend and that was very good in my opinion, good food for the value and about a 4 dollar cab ride from the hotel. Breakfast in the morning was excellent, Berni had lots of info on what to do in CR. The grounds of the hotel were nicely kept. As stated in other reviews it was a bit noisy. But you are in a city so there is traffic and the ever present motor cycles that tear about the streets of CR. Barking dogs are heard but what can you do. We were given ear plugs for that situation. A very good option for staying in the SJ/airport area.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank toddscan
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 61 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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