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“Beautiful property but noise” 3 of 5 bubbles
Review of Pura Vida Hotel

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Pura Vida Hotel
Ranked #1 of 59 Alajuela B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
pittsburgh
Level Contributor
7 reviews
4 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Beautiful property but noise”
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 February 2012

We stayed at this hotel the day we arrived for our CR vacation and the day before we left due to its proximity to the airport. The proprietor and staff were excellent, very willing to help with all our arrangements including car rental, taxi service and even ordering food to be delivered as their restaurant is not offering lunch or dinner. Breakfast is included in the rate and consisted of fresh fruit, yogurt with granola, fruit juice and coffee and a type of dense bread, all of which were very good.
The negative of this property is that while the grounds are beautiful, it is located up on a hill and there is a lot of noise from traffic -- we heard truck and motorcycle noise loudly most of the time resulting in having to keep our windows closed. This would be the reason we would not stay here again.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank broom1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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711 reviews from our community

Traveller rating
    602
    76
    20
    5
    8
See reviews for
208
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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (124)
Date | Rating
  • Danish first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
New York, New York
Level Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 February 2012

We stayed at Pura Vida Hotel the night before we left Costa Rica. First, it's located very close to the airport. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a place to stay when they arrive or before they leave San Jose. It's a bit hard to find (use your GPS) but well worth it. The location is like a little oasis with beautiful, huge apartment-like rooms. The breakfast was wonderful. The owners are friendly and so helpful with information about anything your interested in doing in Costa Rica.

  • Stayed February 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank NYCTraveller23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Anchorage, Alaska
Level Contributor
31 reviews
22 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 51 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 27 February 2012

All the glowing Trip Advisor reports are accurate. The negative ones seem, well, a bit emotional, as if someone was overly tired and took a trivial event personally. We found the owners graciously helpful.

Free airport pickup (they pay the taxi) – you pay to go back to the airport. Don’t rent a car at the airport, it’s easier to have Pura Vida do it for you.

Renting a car through Pura Vida is trivially easy. Tell them what you want and the car gets delivered. When you’re done with it, just leave the keys at the B&B. Get a GPS or bring your own (see: http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g291982-i813-k5188501-GPS_use_in_Costa_Rica-Costa_Rica.html)

There’s great security on the property – it’s a gated compound attended 24 hours a day and there are safes in the rooms.

Great location from which to base trips to other parts of the country.

Baggage storage between stays.

Beautiful rooms and separate bungalows. Every room has a patio with table & chairs (and a refrigerator). Every room is separate from every other room.

The lovely grounds have lush vegetation, orchids, and many flowering plants. Many plants are labeled. It’s like being in a small botanic garden. The owner knows a lot about plants. Ask.

There’s a view of Poas Volcano. It is highly interesting to visit – go with a guide and explore the plant life as well as the crater. It’s a large round green hill though, not what comes to mind when one hears “volcano”.

There’s a really nice, new supermarket (Auto Mercado) just a few minutes away. The bank next door to the market has an ATM that issues both colones and US$. The Auto Mercado carry-out person will call a taxi for you then wait until it arrives to load your bags. There’s a really nice wine section with a concierge.

Breakfast is very good.

Great staff. Jose, in particular, is a gem. Everyone except the cleaning and grounds crew speaks very good English.

Can arrange tours and very qualified guides.

The program the owners have encouraging guests to bring school supplies as checked baggage from the US and donate them to a local rural school is highly commendable.

At least one reviewer complained about the dogs. There are two large German Shepherds who hang around the grounds. They are both old and sleep nearly all the time. They would only be a problem if you don’t watch where you’re walking and trip over them. Fijarse donde pisa.

Suggestions:

Make sure you pay cash in US dollars* (see below).

Road noise can be loud mornings and evenings – motorbikes, in particular, are a nuisance. Pura Vida provides really comfortable ear plugs.

No food at all other than the wonderful breakfast – the owners have opened a new restaurant about 30 minutes away and no longer offer an evening meal. You will have to take a taxi to one of the very few, but good, eating places in Alajuela. Don’t drive at night, especially after a beer or two.

*This is how many places, not just Pura Vida, in Costa Rica (and other countries) use VISA:

The business’ prices are quoted in US$.

The business’ VISA agreement (with their bank) only allows them to charge in Costa Rica colones.

The business uses a very high exchange rate for the conversion of US$ to colones.

VISA then uses a lower number to convert the colones to US$.

The price you pay is inflated by about 3%.

An example using the actual rates we encountered in January 2012:

Your bill is $500.

-- The business uses 519 CRC/$ to convert the $500 to colones (=259,500CRC).
-- VISA then uses 504 CRC/$ to convert the CRC back to USD (=$514.88).
-- You pay $514.88 for a $500 charge.

And…unless you have a Capital One VISA, you’ll pay another few percent in an “International money exchange” fee. So…because the business charges in colones, your $500 stay can cost you about $530.

It seems as if the businesses should charge in the currency in which they quote their prices.

See the link below for a discussion of ATM use:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g291982-i813-k5182962-ATM_use_in_Costa_Rica-Costa_Rica.html

Room Tip: Volcano suite may be noisier. The casita farthest from the road are quietest.
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
4 Thank LH314
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, 21 March 2012
Thanks for your excellent and detailed response - and we are listening to the critique at the end of the review on exchange rates.

We have been charging the official exchange rate for all guest transactions. In addition we exchange colones for guests at the exact same exchange rate as many guests are here their first night and need some colones to get going. This is the same practice as you mention for other hotels you are familiar with. And our credit card machine only knows how to charge in colones, the local currency. However your review prompted us to relook at what we could do to remove any exchange rate confusion. We are after all a hotel that quotes prices in dollars but charges in colones. In part that is how some of the country operates, in part it is how we think of the culture of the country - "when in Rome" as they say - and we use colones for all other transactions in the country.

But as a result of your review we had a chat with the credit card company. We can't make our machine charge in 2 currencies but we are having the credit card machine reprogrammed to charge only in dollars. It is not difficult but we hadn't really considered it as all our activities here are in local currency. Thanks for reminding us that there are other perspectives in the world - and, of course, the reason for most of us to travel :-)

Thanks, Berni
Manager
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Costa Rica
Level Contributor
29 reviews
19 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 13 February 2012

When we have to travel to the city from our rural location in Costa Rica. We savor the comfort and peace at Pura Vida. Great WiFi, gardens and a yummy breakfast make us feel right at home and well cared for. Not all people make great hosts and are able to anticipate the needs of their guests; however, Berni and Nhi make it seem easy. But we know it isn't! Cheers to you. See you soon, we'll be back.

  • Stayed January 2012, travelled on business
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank CostaRicaSteveandDeb
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
San Francisco
Level Contributor
15 reviews
12 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 11 February 2012

We visited Pura Vida in June 2011 and loved our stay there. The casitas are charming and tastefully appointed. We loved the patio, complete with fridge and coffee machine. The breakfasts were amazing. We took an early tour one day and loved having the "to go" breakfast. The location is perfect for day trips in the area. We had our eight year old with us and he didn't want to leave. He loved the dogs and exploring the beautiful gardens on the property. We felt very safe and secure. We loved the convenience of booking the rental car right from the hotel. We were embarking on a three week trip to both Nicaragua and Costa Rica and planned to leave the car near the border. Bernie and the rental car agency helped us to prepare and arrange for this experience (...and yes, Bernie, you described Penas Blancas well! It is the Wild Wild West). Our arrival was delayed by an almost 24 hour layover in Dallas (due to mechanical and human error) and we were pleased not to have to pay for the night we missed (though sad to have lost one night at this lovely place). We loved the airport taxi voucher. Our only challenge at Pura Vida was that the restaurant was closed. We requested a dinner one night when we knew that we would return late and were provided with a simple, but very tasty meal, but generally we didn't care for the local restaurants and none of them are within walking distance. We would have liked to have dined at the hotel. If that had been possible we would have given an excellent review. We loved this place and hope to return soon!

  • Stayed June 2011, travelled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank DidiSF
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: | Just 4km North of the 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 59 B&Bs / Inns in Alajuela
Price range (per night): $116 - $242
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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