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“No better way to visit Costa Rica!”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 58 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Loveland, Colorado
Level 2 Contributor
6 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“No better way to visit Costa Rica!”
Reviewed 17 April 2014

We arrived early after an overnight flight(7am) and had a delightful breakfast, then were able to check in early. The gourmet dinner later that evening, prepared and served by Nhi and Berni was superb! Room, food, service was everything we hoped for. But best of all- the help we received before we arrived, with touring ideas and suggestions. They asked our interests, then paired us up with a guide for a few days of birding before and after our planned tour. Alexis was terrific, and we saw more rare birds and butterflies than we did on our 10 day tour afterward! Many thanks for a wonderful vacation!

Room Tip: Read the descriptions and ask Berni!
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Betsy W
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, 18 April 2014
Thanks for the great review! Alexis is indeed a most excellent guide - he spent years in the coffee business and today, on his farm, grows pupaes for butterfly attractions in Costa Rica. His flora and fauna knowledge is often called on when someone can't identify something or needs an expert in some field - we have had the pleasure to work with him for many years and whenever I am stumped on something in the garden he's the first person I go to. Just as an example, a passion vine which does not give any fruit (but has given us 10's of thousands of flowers over the years) one day pollinated and gave us a unique form of passion fruit I had never seen. Alexis when shown the fruit immediately knew which bee likely did it and that it did not live in our area but must have been blown in on a wind some time previously.

One thing I do want to note for other future guests - we do a number of trips here that are not entirely predictable - such as the birding trip Alexis put together for you or our "my village tour" put on by another of our excellent guides. We can never guarantee what will happen with these trips which we put together based on special local knowledge. We may not know exactly where the Quetzals are but we probably know where their food is. We know about the now very rare working trapiche (ancient sugar processing with oxen driven grinder) but it doesn't run like clockwork every day. We know of a very wonderful coffee farmer doing interesting organic work but he will not be there every day as he is a coffee farmer not a formal tourist attraction. We will endeavor to put together a fabulous day based on what you tell us but unlike the crocodiles at Disney, our crocs do not open and close their snouts on queue :-)) Whatever happens on your day with one of our guides it WILL be interesting though.

Thanks again and glad we could help!
Berni
Manager
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Rating summary
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (144)
Date | Rating
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English first
Billings, Montana
1 review
Reviewed 16 April 2014

The owner, Bernie, gave us exceptional attention; not to much, not to little. Small touches, such as fresh flowers in our room and on the dining table, were impressive. Bernie is intelligent, kind, and friendly. He is honest and frank in speech and a bit of a scholar on the history of Costa Rica. His love of the region is apparent. His small staff is equally impressive: courteous, intelligent--sort of like the butler in a P.G. Woodhouse story. I am confident you will enjoy staying at the Pura Vida.

Room Tip: We stayed in 2 relatively quiet rooms.
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank Dan S
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, 18 April 2014
I find it very hard to disagree with a word you say :-)) Gracias and thanks for taking the time to say it!

Berni
Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 16 April 2014

My mom and I visited Costa Rica in Februrary 2014. Pura Vida was our home on our first and last days there. We stayed in the Katydid cottage the first night, and the Mariposa on the last night. Both rooms were beautiful, clean, inviting, spacious and oh-so peaceful. Personal hammocks?!? Need I say more? Berni and his team facilitated our car rental with an English speaking Toyota agent - without a hitch. Both days we came in hours before the check-in time with no problems, Carlos made us comfortable in their beautiful outdoor dining area until the rooms were ready (which was not long at all!) The power went out in Alajuela the morning I was flying out (5am) and Berni came down to find me with a flashlight to ensure I got in a taxi and made my flight. The breakfasts were delicious and they even packed me a to-go lunch for my early morning. I can't imagine a more wonderful place to start and finish our Tico adventure. It was truly a wonderful experience and I will definitely be returning one day.

Felicia & Mary

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
Thank felwat
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, 18 April 2014
Thanks Felicia & Mary for the really nice review.
We look forward to you joining the many returnees we see every year, thank you again,

Berni
Manager
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Escondido, California
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 19 helpful votes
Reviewed 15 April 2014

We recently stayed at the Pura Vida on our last day in Costa Rica. This small bed and breakfast has our highest recommendation and we can be particular. We stayed in the Volcano Room and could not have been more pleased. The room was spacious and well appointed. The room has a balcony overlooking the volcano.

The owner, Bernie, provides a wealth of information to all prospective guests in advance of their stay. Wifi is included at no cost. By the way, he has a delightful sense of humor and goes out of his way to make his guests comfortable. If you have an early morning flight from San Jose, Bernie will be waiting for you to call a cab and provide you with a to go breakfast. The hotel dogs are great.

Do not miss the gourmet dinner prepared by his lovely wife. It will be one of the best, if not the best,meals you will have in Costa Rica. It is a three course fixed priced feast. The meal is prepared with fresh ingredients obtained at the market that day. An intimate dinner at the hotel after a long day of travel makes the stay even more rewarding.

The property is located a short distance to the airport in Alajuela. It is located on a former coffee finca. The grounds are lush and beautiful.

The only negative is some traffic noise during rush hour. The noise dissipates as the evening progresses and does not interfere with sleep. Both the beds and pillows are well above average.

Why stay at some impersonal hotel chain when you can be engaged with hospitality and warmth by some truly kind and caring innkeepers in a lovely setting at a reasonable price?

  • Stayed April 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Luigi53SD
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Level 2 Contributor
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 3 April 2014

We stayed in this beautiful oasis on our last night in Costa Rica. I selected it based upon its proximity to the airport (less than 10 minute drive) as well as the wonderful reviews. It did not disappoint. In fact, the only disappointment was ours, that we did not have more time there. In hindsight, I would have scheduled our first night there as well, as they had wonderful information available about Costa Rica which I think would have been helpful in the transition to the trip. We were a family of four traveling for the week, and requested to have dinner at the hotel that evening. Knowing that we had kids in tow, they were very accommodating in the menu for that night. It was wonderful - absolutely delicious and fresh and flavorful, while also being "kid-friendly". Berni was kind enough to arrange for our taxi and send us off to the airport at an ungodly hour with bags of portable breakfast food. We very much hope to return and would recommend Pura Vida without hesitation!

Room Tip: There is some traffic noise as well as very early-rising roosters in the vicinity so you may want to...
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  • Stayed March 2014, travelled with family
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Helpful?
Thank katmom43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania
Level 6 Contributor
315 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 93 helpful votes
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
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Helpful?
1 Thank daanddo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Fitchburg, Wisconsin, United States
Level 5 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
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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 58 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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