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“I found my Costa Rica Base Camp!”
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 58 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“I found my Costa Rica Base Camp!”
Reviewed 25 January 2007

I left Los Angeles for Costa Rica in August 2006 during a Terror Alert. Needless to say, I was exhausted when I landed in San Jose. My daughter had been there all summer with a group from University of Santa Cruz and met me at the airport. Unfortunately, I didn't realize Pura Vida Hotel offered transportation from the airport to the hotel so we got ripped off by a local taxi driver ($25 US dollars (that's about $100 to go six miles!) Live and learn...

When we arrived at the hotel, we were greeted by the owner, Berni, who led us through the beautiful grounds to our casita (The Toucan). We were tired and hungry and although it was well beyond breakfast, Berni brought us a most exqusite tray of eggs, bacon, fruit, coffee, fresh juice and the most amazing bread pudding.

Our casita was spacious and full of light-- impeccable in every way. Great open shower!

Since we had not made advance reservations for dinner at Pura Vida, Berni recommended a great restaurant in town and made arrangements for our round trip cab. The restaurant was a local hangout-- funky and fantastic.

The next morning, after another great home-cooked breakfast, Berni arranged our transportation to Manuel Antonio-- a beautiful beach town on the Pacific Coast, about four hours away. Our driver was amazing! He spoke excellent English, had a great personality and charming sense of humor. Once again, Berni's recommendation and personal assistance was right on!

Three weeks later, we were back at Hotel Pura Vida for our last nght in Costa Rica. We had made dinner reservations this time as we did not want to miss Berni's wife's (Nhi's) fabulous gourmet evening meal. Her espresso-laced pana cotta, (an eggless custard) may be the best dessert I've ever had! .Also, the patio dining was sublime and gorgeous, private and serene.

Berni was the perfect host. He took care of our every need with grace, charm and experitse.

Thank you Berni, Nhi and the wonderful staff for your exquisite hospitality! You truly have created a most elegant "base camp!"

See you next time!

margo & jenna -- California

  • Liked — Quaint, beautiful, private grounds and private cottages. Close to San Jose airport-- great base camp!
  • Disliked — The plumbing! Dubbed as "eco-friendly" means "don't flush..." you get the idea.
  • Stayed August 2006
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank jaysbarandgrill
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Location
  • Sleep Quality
  • Rooms
  • Service
  • Value
  • Cleanliness
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (139)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
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  • Spanish first
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English first
Costa Rica
Level Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
Reviewed 18 January 2007

We live in Costa Rica and wanted to try dinner at Pura Vida. Our friends had raved about it - so we ate there last night.

This was the best meal we've had in Costa Rica. The Pura Vida Hotel is owned by Berni and Nhi (knee). Berni is the man in the photo, 2nd from left, next to my husband, Xavier. The woman between me and Berni is Loretta, a frequent visitor to Pura Vida and an instant friend. She was sitting at the table next to us but we couldn't stop talking so she moved over to sit with us.

Nhi, meanwhile, was in the kitchen working magic. From soup to nuts, dinner was superb. The bread was so so good: that heavy warm sourdough you get in really good restaurants. Served with real butter, of course. Xavier had a lovely merlot. All the glasses were sparkly. The first course was teriyaki chicken wings with an arugula and parsley salad. Delish.

The main course was trout with capers, such a good combo. The trout was fresh and perfectly cooked, very tender. With those skinny green beans... they must have a name besides skinny green beans... and brown rice on the side. Presentation was simple and appealing, dishes were interesting, colorful and not matched - I love that.

Desert was a sweet, chewy coconut bar and a scoop of vanilla ice cream with toasted coconut on top. And fresh El Rey coffee.

After our scrumptious dinner, Berni, showed us around. It was dark, so we couldn't see the landscaping, but the grounds are lush and sprawling. The rooms are delightfully appointed, GREAT PILLOWS, fluffy comforters, local art covers the walls. We could be very comfy there. In fact, I was tempted to crawl right in... but I'd had too much coffee.

If I was coming to Costa Rica for a visit, I'd definitely stay at the Pura Vida Hotel with Berni and Nhi. You couldn't go wrong.

  • Liked — Clean and comfortable.
  • Stayed January 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Saratica
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, California
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 17 January 2007

This was the perfect first stop on our first trip to Costa Rica. Berni and Nhi were gracious and welcoming. Even before we arrived Berni was so helpful answering all of our questions by email. Once we arrived (via a short taxi ride from the airport that the hotel paid for) it was even better than we anticipated. Berni and his three lovely german shepherds greeted us warmly, even allowing us to check into another room early (we arrived at 9:00 AM) since our reserved room was not quite ready yet.

The Toucan Casita was private, spacious, light and airy with beautiful art in the living room and bedroom...The bathroom had a huge shower with a skylight and a separate water closet. The casita was tucked into their lovely lush gardens, our beautiful home away from home in Costa Rica. We just had one full day to explore the many sights of the central valley and Berni helped us make the most of our time by arranging a driver and suggesting an itinerary. We were able to see quite a lot before heading off to the rainforest.

Nhi's cooking was one of the highlights of our trip and the meals were not only delicious but beautiful as well. We even had a great view of Poas volcano from our breakfast table!

By the end of our two night (too short stay) we felt as though we were staying with friends and we look forward to returning soon.

  • Liked — The friendly, helpful owners and staff
  • Stayed December 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank soukseeker
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chicago, Illinois
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed 3 January 2007

My mom, brother and I spent the Christmas holiday in Costa Rica and started and ended our trip at the Pura Vida. Berni, Nhi and the rest of the staff were helpful (even though we arrived at almost midnight) and cheerful every time we saw them. Berni knew how to get anywhere we wanted to go and had helpful suggestions on every thing we asked. They helped with our rental car reservations and that went very smoothly--door to door service. The breakfasts were plentiful and the dinner we had on our last night was spectacular. The grounds are beautifully maintained and the rooms are clean and filled with fresh flowers. Berni is also a flower and nature expert so we could ask him about the wonderful stuff growing, flying and darting around, and he knew details about them all. Kudos to the whole staff!!

  • Liked — the staff and the grounds
  • Disliked — nothing
  • Tips/Secrets — take advantage of the knowledge of the staff
  • Stayed December 2006, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank harleyChicago
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cleveland
Level Contributor
4 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 9 December 2006

My mom and i recently stayed at Pura Vida Hotel and loved it! we spend our first and last night there and everyone was so helpful! they gave us good travel advice and had plenty of resources if we had any questions. The rooms were huge and beautiful, and the beds were extremely comfortable. Breakfast was great and although we didnt eat dinner there it looked and sounded great. I would recommend Pura Vida Hotel to anyone, especially for the first night because it is so close to the airport and the staff is so friendly and helpful.

  • Liked — Comfortable beds
  • Disliked — No pool
  • Stayed December 2006
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
2 Thank HHollis14
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
halifax Canada
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 December 2006

We stayed our first night and last 3 nights. The location is fantastic and the hospitality superb. The breakfast and dinners were amazing. Berni's advice about travel was spot on. Beautiful view, great accommodation.

  • Liked — Location, friendliness
  • Disliked — no drawbacks
  • Tips/Secrets — Hilly site, not suitable for wheelchair access
  • Stayed November 2006, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
Helpful?
3 Thank virmac
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Boston
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
Reviewed 25 November 2006

We stayed at Pura Vida for three nights. We were in Alajuela for a family event.

The casitas and rooms are situated on a hillside with a beautiful view of Poas. We were in Toucan, which suited our needs well. The room and furnishings were clean and attractive. Berni and Nhi's three large, friendly German shepards escorted us around the property with big doggie smiles.

The breakfasts were delicious fresh fruit, hearty breads and optional eggs, quiche or omlets. The coffee was delicious - in this major coffee-producing land, it is not unusual to be served poorly made coffee, so it is not something we take for granted.

We had a very good dinner, our best on this week-long trip to Costa Rica, and the vegetarian in our party was accomodated nicely with a special plate.

What really set Pura Vida apart, however, is the clear and carefully compiled information. We have traveled widely around the world and never have been presented with such a personalized set of interesting and valuable facts, delivered with a dry, observant wit.

We have lots of family in Alajuela and around the country, so we have many opportunities to stay with relatives. But when we need to escape from family closeness that builds up over a longer visit, we'll certainly come back to Pura Vida, and will recommend the place to all our friends.

  • Liked — Friendliness, location, cleanliness
  • Disliked — Roosters at 5:30am. Hey, it's kind of rural! But that's the only downside.
  • Tips/Secrets — Great base from which to explore central Costa Rica.
  • Stayed November 2006, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank rodish
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 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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