I visted Santa Elena on two different occasions, staying in a triple with private bath once for $7 per person a night, and the second time was given one of the excellent modern double rooms with tiled floors, nicer sheets and beds, and a very clean private bath for $10 per person.
The Pension also has a kitchen available for use, a nice candlelit dining area, coffee, internet (admittedly slow; try the internet cafe), a porch with hammock, and is charming decorated with Christmas lights. The staff is also very helpful and accommodating, and seem to not only remember, but reward return visitors (note the nicer room on second visit). They can also organize tours, and if no rooms are available, they will help you find other accommodation (no reservations accepted). Guests may also leave their bags in a secure locker before/after checkout while touring or waiting for buses.
The French owner (who also runs what seems to be a reputable horseback touring company) is forgetful and somewhat crazy, but don't be put off. In reality, Pension Santa Elena is a charming hostel, and a great place to meet other backpackers from around the world.
by Chicago Chic
September 6, 2004
From journal City Girl's Adventures Abroad: Costa Rica