More about Pura Vida Hotel
Just wasn't right
We stayed 1 night.Arrived @ around 1030pm,our flight was delayed by about 5-6 hrs,upon arrival I asked Berni if it would be ok if we left the grounds to find something to eat, they have to let you in and out because the grounds are in a compound-like setting,I also asked what was the latest we could be let back in and he replied "not after 12".I should mention there are 3 huge German Shepherds on the grounds,and could be very intimidating,especially when the host vaguely told us they were friendly with people on the grounds.After a quick check in we went up to the main house and were trying to get in touch with Bernie to get let out,and someone let those dogs come charging out of that main house,barking like crazy and running right up to us, and never botherd to answer our calls to be let out.I definately understand if it is not that kind of place where you just come and go as you please at all hours,and if that was explained to us we would have had no problem abiding by that rule,but what this guy did just wasnt right.The place was very clean,and breakfast the next day was good but the experience was tainted by the owners(Berni) attitude and inattentiveness that night.No matter how this guy responds to this review,I stand by it and reassure you this is exacly how it happened.I travelled with 3 other people and we are all in agreeance as to how we felt we were treated.
Always a Home Away from Home
The Pura Vida is a great base camp for jumping off and returning from adventures in Costa Rica. I just returned from my second trip to the country and have always stayed at the Pura Vida Hotel - Tuetal. I have always found that the owners and staff are sincere and do all they can to make for a comfortable, relaxing experience in the suburbs of San Jose. Although close to the airport, the Pura Vida is in a quiet and semi-rural part of the area. Dinner is fantastic, and it is obvious that Nhi loves to cook.
Convenient to Airport
We stayed at Pura Vida for three nights, two at the beginning, and one at the end. The first two nights we were in the Volcano room. It was fairly small, and I found ants in my suitcase after one night. I had come to Costa Rica expecting bugs, so I can't say I was surprised, but not thrilled with ants all over my clothes.
The three German Shepards were very friendly, but if you are remotely afraid of dogs, I can see why a person could be intimidated. The hotel grounds are lovely, and carefully landscaped.
Please note that you are not able to have dinner at the hotel on Sunday evenings, as the staff is off that day. They did provide an alternative location for us to eat at, which had good cerviche, but nothing else to write home about. We thought it was fine for our purposes - we wanted to be close to the airport, and safe from crime. I felt very safe while on the grounds. You do have to ring the bell to come and go, but that made me feel better about leaving my things behind.
Our last night we stayed in the Rainforest room, and it was far superior to the Volcano room. We wished we were in that room for the first two nights, but it was booked. It was slightly more expensive, but much larger, and I didn't see any ants in my bag. It was decorated with a nice rainforest theme, and very clean.
It can be on the noisy side with dogs barking and traffic honking during the night, but you can't beat the location. I recommend starting and ending your trip at Pura Vida. Beware of cab drivers who confuse this hotel with the other Pura Vida Yoga retreat, also close by....
Perfect bookend for a Costa Rica trip
My wife and I booked one night at Pura Vida, between our inbound flight and cruise the next day, after finding many other places sold out. All Berni had left was his biggest unit, Katydid, which is a lovely casita with two bedrooms, living room and kitchen--much more than we needed but still a bargain at $120 including airport transfer and breakfast. Everyone was friendly and helpful. The grounds are not extensive but beautiful and well maintained. We are dog lovers and found the three German shepherds friendly, well behaved and part of the charm of the place.
We had the ($20 extra per person) dinner: fresh red snapper, innovatively prepared and nicely served on the patio. Berni's wife Nhi is the chef and is very talented: she came to Costa Rica from the US West Coast and calls her cuisine "Cali-Tico," which describes it perfectly. I agree with others that the portions are a little small but we thoroughly enjoyed the meal.
Berni is happy to suggest and arrange all sorts of daytrips (and longer) in Costa Rica. He uses a only a few English-speaking drivers so he keeps a good handle on quality. We only wanted a transfer to our ship (2 hours away) which he gladly provided but he seemed disappointed we didn't want to extend it into a 6-hour tour, not at all for additional revenue but because he genuinely wanted us to make the most of our time in the country. We appreciated his interest but in our case we weren't interested in bouncing around in a van for a whole day. Our driver, David, was very pleasant, safe, and took us to Puntarenas by a scenic route with a short snack stop at a restaurant with a mountain view. His van was new, clean and well air-conditioned.
If I were to make a suggestion, it would be to increase the facilities at the hotel so guests would enjoy staying on the premises rather than scurrying off each day, especially since there's very little to see or do in the immediate neighborhood. Serving a simple lunch and maybe adding a pool would be great enhancements--with those, we might stay a week next time!
good place to stay upon arrival
This B&B is a great place to stay upon your arrival because of its proximity to the airport. The cab fare was paid for by Berni but only if you have it booked with them ahead of time. This place is very nice, with a lovely garden. It is a wonderful way to welcome visitors like us. Both Bernie and Nhi were very hospitable. The dinner was fantastic! The only warning we have is that the place is at a slope so there are stairs going to your room. It was a bit difficult getting our luggage down and up. I recommend this place if you are in the San Jose or Alajuela area.
Who knew Xanadu existed in Costa Rica?
We stayed here the last two nights of our honeymoon. Berni was kind enough to upgrade us to a gorgeous little house, which we really appreciated. It is quite obvious that this quirky little hotel has been put together with love, and was wonderfully decorated. Many thoughtful details were attended to, such as having sensor lights in the garden. The food was good, but nothing to write home about. Dinner was fresh, convenient and tasty, but expensive compared to other meals we had all over the country. Still, it allows you stay within the compound which we liked. I have no idea why people would complain about portion size, we literally had to roll ourselves away from the table. Maybe the portion sizes are smaller where we come from.
The compound, although a lovely little oasis (hammocks, sweet dogs, carefully landscaped lots to look at and read) was noisy due to its location. After traveling in remote places it was a bit of a surprise to hear dogs barking and cars honking all night. We realize, however, that is to be expected when staying in a busy area. What we didn't expect was hearing Berni and the dogs going a bit nuts outside our room at 7:30 am. We awoke to seeing him and the dogs chasing each other around our cabin - a bit of a surprise for us I must say. We were definitely awake after that point, which was unfortunate.
Still, it's a very relaxed homey environment. We felt comfortable, and I must say that it was the most comfortable bed I stayed in the entire two weeks I was in Costa Rica. Also, very good security (especially with the dogs) and it was great that we could park the car inside. Berni also provided us with easy to read maps and we made it to our destinations eventually. The staff was really nice as well. Bugs were there, but that is to be expected and the bugs weren't anything more than anywhere else. Also a convenient place to stay to reach attractions (i.e. Sarchi, Poas, La Paz).
In terms of the other guests liking/disliking Berni, I just assumed that he was a difficult-to-read, quirky kind of guy, who means no harm. People take abruptness and sarcasm differently, so one can’t expect everyone to love those qualities. If you look at notes in your room, the chapters he wrote about building the place, etc, you just realize that it's a bit eccentric and leave it at that. Can’t say if we liked him or disliked him, but we certainly appreciated his hospitality. As a sarcastic person myself, I realize that people understand sarcasm and quirkiness in different ways. Furthermore, his car was stolen while we were there and he remained to be polite and attentive to his guests (which, I imagine, would be hard).
Overall, we enjoyed our stay, found the place an interesting Xanadu that Berni created. Thanks for an interesting experience!
Informative and Friendly
I recently stayed at the Hotel Pura Vida on my honeymoon. The B&B is close to the airport and the rooms are clean and safe. There is a doorbell to ring when the cab drops you off at the front door.
Berni and Nhi are both very nice and knowledgable about the area. This was my first trip to Costa Rica and the information regarding local culture was very helpful throughout my stay in the country. Look on the wall of your room for the laminated info document.
I highly recommend speaking with Nhi and making some dinner reservations to eat there at the hotel. The food is great and you can watch the hummingbirds while you kick back with a glass of wine. The 3 German Shepards are very playful and friendly.
San Jose is a big, international city complete with all the sights and sounds associated with such an environment. One thing I learned quickly, throughout Costa Rica, was that early morning is a very active time no matter what part of the country you are in. If you plan to sleep in anywhere, do as the travel guides suggest, and buy some earplugs. Personally, I just adjusted my sleep habits to go to bed earlier and get up earlier to catch the amazing sunrise (if you want to see wildlife, morning is the time) The hotel itself is very quiet and peaceful, yet outside the walls the city is awake.
I enjoyed the travel-day accomodations there and would stay there again on my next visit. The staff there were the nicest people I encountered anywhere on my trip.
Nice rooms, good value, great dinner and good location - close to the airport
We stayed in Alajuela at the Pura Vida Hotel prior to our early flight the next day. The hotel was recommended in the Moon Guide. On the hotel website, they had a special 30% off their off-season rate when the room was booked within 14 days. With the discount, our room was only $56 per night, which was a great value. Berni and his wife own the hotel and are from Santa Cruz, California. Upon our arrival, we were upgraded to a larger, Rainforest Casita room.
We opted for the dinner ($20 per person) at the hotel cooked by Bernie’s wife. There were five total for dinner (including us). The food was a gourmet meal with lasagna as the main course. The food was wonderful and the best meal with had in Costa Rica. Considering that we were in Costa Rica for 9 days, it show you how good the food really was.
The rooms we were in was huge and included a sitting room with the restroom and mini-bar and a separate bedroom. Keep in mind that the town is noisy and that there are noisy motorcycles driving by during the days. During the evening and night, the motocycles are much less frequent. There are three German Shepard dogs that lives on the grounds. As a dog lover, I played with one of the dogs and threw fruit for him to chase after.
Berni was up to see us off the next morning at 5:00 a.m. with a "to go" bag for our continental breakfast. He also called us a cab to the airport. The ride to the airport cost about $4.50 and was less than 10 minutes.
While I am sure there may be closer place to the airport and maybe more elegant places to stay, there was great service and a cosy feeling at the Pura Vida Hotel. It was also a great value. Did I mention the food?
We thought that the Pura Vida was an excellent place to start and end a great vacation. Berni pays for the taxi ride from the airport. It is only a short drive. We made arrangements for a late dinner so we didn't have to go anywhere. Our rental was delivered right to the breakfast table and off we went. Lovely breakfast with a great view. The dinners prepared there are fabulous...a bit pricey, but worth not having to drive somewhere.
Loved our casita and the dogs...will definitely go back to see Berni and Nhi next year.