Since my first trip to Ecuador in 2001 I’ve stayed in a lot of different places. Unfortunately I haven’t always noted the name. In fact sometimes I don’t think the places had a name. However, here is a list of the hotels and hostels I can remember, and my opinion. I have added a few other establishments where a close friend or family member has stayed and been able to report their experience.
SOUTHERN COAST AND LOWLANDS
RUTA DEL SOL
Cabañas La Tortuga
This little place in Ayampe is owned by David. There are five double rooms and some family cabins. It is located right on the beach, so you can stroll out to a virtually deserted stretch of sand and even kayak out to a horseshoe shaped rock in the sea. The cabanas are rustic but comfortable enough, with a little terrace and hammock to relax. There is also a bar area which serves food and drink all day and has a selection of games and information about the area.
With a dominant three storeys, this is the only high rise building in Manglaralto. From a top balcony you get a wonderful view of the sea on a sunny morning. Inside it is very clean if a bit spartan. Manglaralto is very safe and quiet, the antidote to Montanita. If you want to relax in a sleepy village with a lovely beach, come here.
This small hostel is one block from the sea. The rooms are small but they have an ensuite bathroom. There are a few tables to sit outside and watch life go by (slowly) in the village. At the back there are some trees, hammocks and space to park cars. The owner, Jorge, is very friendly and provides a simple breakfast for extra cost.
The owners of Mandala are Italian and Swiss. They have taken a plot of land on the nicest part of the beach, a few kilometres north of Puerto Lopez, and turned it into a magical garden. Rooms are in self-contained cabins which you find by following winding paths past a mass of plants and flowers. They also serve meals and you can sit up quite late in the attractive restaurant area. A friend did have a dispute with the owners over the authenticity ( or lack of) of the montubio breakfast. The owner’s attitude was a bit Gordon Ramsey. However the rest of the time all staff were very friendly and helpful.
This is a lovely hostería in the little village of Puerto Rico. It has extensive grounds with many different plants and flowers. The rooms are in four separate areas. In each one the buildings have very different designs. The lobby and restaurant is contained in a huge structure with a covered roof but open at the sides. Local materials have been used as much as possible. The hostería emphasises it’s eco-friendly credentials. Unfortunately my uncle saw a member of staff emptying the contents of the recyclable and non-recyclable bins into the same container. Nevertheless, Alándaluz is involved in a number of worthwhile projects to benefit the local community and environment.
We had our wedding reception at Alándaluz. It was not without hitches – we were double booked for the weekend with another party and there were some delays confirming details with the Quito office. However on the day the organisation was excellent and I would trust the Alándaluz staff to organise a reception and conference.
We stayed in this hostería for a couple of nights. Although it’s just off the main road, you could feel very isolated if you don’t have a car. It’s a very attractive place, freshly painted in bright colours, with a swimming pool and magnificent views over dry tropical forest to the ocean. The food in the restaurant was delicious and the service excellent. However, our room wasn’t so good – the floor was very dirty under the bed and the tiles needed grouting. In addition we discovered that, under an agreement with local schools many of the staff at the hotel were school children who were given lodging and food but no pay. The girl cleaning our room was only learning how to be a maid which didn’t seem to justify having months out of school.
NORTHERN COAST AND LOWLANDS
Canoa is only a small grid of streets, but this hostel manages to be close to the action (ie. a couple of bars)and the beach but also have a more relaxed and quiet feel, maybe due to the fact that it is the last street – behind the hotel is the river. The rooms are quite spacious and comfortable. The facade of the building is attractive dark brown cane. There´s a swimming pool and a restaurant as well as space for cars.
We found this place on the seafront a short distance along from the village centre. It looks small from the front but stretches back a long way with space for a swimming pool and some open areas to the side of the cabins. There is also lots of car parking space and a restaurant. The cabins come in different shapes and sizes – in fact there are so many that you should take care to choose one that has been recently used and cleaned (check for accumulation of dust).
We were there with the Liga de Loja football team who did a good impression of being on holiday but still managed to beat Liga de Portoviejo 2-0.
LA CASONA DE DIEGO
I stayed in this guest house for a night when I had to get up at a ridiculously early hour and wanted to make my own breakfast. The house is located in a quiet, affluent area called La Floresta (near some smart hotels and restaurants and also a supermarket and a trole stop along 6 de Diciembre). It´s about 10 minutes walk from La Mariscal.
The rooms are simple but clean, with shared or private bathroom. There´s a nice living room with a dining table and sofas as well as the small but well equipped kitchen. Owners are friendly and prices very reasonable. A good budget option for a longer stay.
Hot Hello / Hotel Otello
This hotel is located on Calle Amazonas in the south of the Mariscal area. Mid range – about $35 for a double room. Rooms are very comfortable and clean. Good, hot showers. Helpful and very friendly staff. Breakfast is included and served very promptly when you arrive downstairs in the morning. The café and lobby are one and the same so it’s little cramped. Not much of a view from the windows. But very good value.
Just about the cheapest option in Quito if you don’t want to sleep in a dorm. Rooms have varying numbers of beds. The best one, upstairs, has a double, single and bunk bed, but if its available they’ll let 2 people in for $7 each. There are also kitchen facilities and a bit of roof you can sit on (I wouldn’t go so far as to say terrace). It’s close to the bars and discos of La Mariscal, although sometimes you have to ring the bell for a while before someone gets up at night.
Fair sized hotel in La Mariscal. One of the few in that zone to have on-site car parking. I’m sure it’s seen better days; the décor is a bit faded and the carpets and furniture seem like they’ve had a lot of use. But it’s a comfortable place with a nice lounge and fire. Staff are friendly and helpful. Inexpensive. Good budget choice for a family.
Guachalá is stated to be the oldest hacienda in Ecuador, dating from 1580. It’s located just south of Cayambe and almost on the equator. I couldn’t remember any instructions about how to find it but again our luck and my sign-spotted skills held and we found the entrance road off the Panamericana.
We arrived just after lunch and relaxed at Guachalá during the afternoon.. I found Sylvia in the reception office and discovered we had a reservation for two double rooms and a single (my son is four). We’d actually reserved one large room because I thought it sounded big enough for us all. That wasn’t available and there was no record of my deposit payment. Fortunately I had the receipt.
We ended up in the Arches aka the stables in the era of the hacienda and were left to get our bags down there. Only afterwards did we realize that we could have driven down and opened the wooden side door.
The rooms are quite small and simple in Guachalá but that’s one reason why it’s affordable for all. The beds were comfortable and the shower was powerful and heated up quickly. I wasn’t so impressed by the wash basin hanging away from the wall. It’s quite amusing to see a plaque outside your room telling you it used to be part of the stables. In fact room 5 was apparently a jail where prisoners were tortured. Fortunately we were in rooms 1 and 2. I walked down the line, half expecting room 5 to be empty or bricked up, but it was ready for occupation like the others.
We enjoyed the rest of the afternoon exploring and swimming. The pool is in an area with a plastic roof which made it feel almost tropical (although the water was pretty cold). There were hammocks strung up on one side and banana palms on another.
Across the main courtyard there is a church and a smaller chapel. A group of well-cared for horses moved around grazing and rabbits scampered from place to place. Next to the chapel I went inside the library / games room which had a pool and a table tennis table but felt dark, like it had been abandoned years ago (except it had a modem). There was no light switch apparent to be able to see the pool table properly.
Elsewhere I found living rooms with a fireplace but no sign that a fire would be lit. Perhaps we should have asked but by that time reception had closed for the day (without warning) and only the restaurant staff remained.
We decided to go back to the rooms and light the fires there. We messed around for ages with a barely smouldering woodpile and my Dad blaming the wood and the quality of the paper left for us. Then at 19:30 a lady turned up with a bundle of cotton wool and a bottle of alcohol and.. boom!
Santino was asleep so we were going to eat in shifts. Mum and Dad went first and soon returned saying no-one had offered to serve them. When we went the fire woman appeared straight away to take our order and even offered to take the food down to the room for my parents. The locro de papa was tasty – just a shame that the bowl was only half full – it’s only potatoes, cheese and milk after all. Service was friendly and helpful anyway as it was next morning at breakfast.
There’s no doubt that Black Sheep Inn is a special place to stay but if you can’t stretch to that, Mama Hilda’s is a good option. The rooms are comfortable but cold at night., so the best option is to sit in the large kitchen where there is atable, sofa, some cats, Mama Hilda and, when I stayed, her delightful little granddaughter, who must be quite a bit older now. Mama will prepare a delicious evening meal while you sit and read or chat to the other guests. There isn’t much to do in Chugchilán at night – save your energy for the days. You can walk to Quilotoa or go horse riding. Note, Mama Hilda organised our horses with a guy from the village. The horses were fine but our guide was a kid who did the tour but was virtually mute the whole time. We arrived at a cheese factory. He said “cheese factory”. It was deserted. We arrived at a point looking down to the lowlands, covered in clouds. He said “cloud Ofrest” and waved his hand. We moved on. Make sure you get someone with a bit more experience and charm.
La Cuadra Hostal
This new hostal is located on a side street off the main square. It´s clean, comfortable and friendly. It seems to be an especially popular place for long-term stays as it has access to a fully equipped kitchen and some communal areas including the best pool table I´ve played on in Ecuador. Rooms are simple and quite small but the beds are comfortable and showers are good.
We stayed in this simple, family-owned hostel before visiting Laguna Cuicocha. The room was simple and clean. The shower was hot and powerful. There´s no heating but the room didn´t feel cold. There is a dining room with tables and some armchairs to sit and relax. The friendly owners offered us the use of the kitchen and hot water when we wanted it.
Cuello de Luna Hostería
This old hacienda has been converted into a hotel. It´s very close to Cotopaxi National Park, in face to get there you have to turn off the Panamericana directly opposite the main park entrance. The dirt track is rutted –you can make it in any vehicle but it´s easier if it has a high clearance. The hotel will organize transport.
The rooms were large and comfortable but also a bit dark and cold. When we were there the government were imposing power cuts across the country and the generator didn´t work properly so we ate dinner by candlelight and then huddled around the fire.
The hotel doesn´t really have extensive grounds but there are some llamas out front and great views of Cotopaxi. We walked up a rural track through pleasant countryside – if you organize to ride bikes or horses you could make a more interesting day trip in the local area
La Ciénaga operated as an hacienda for centuries. Some years ago it was converted into a hotel. It´s a really interesting place and the service was excellent.
It also has the most dramatic approach of any hotel that I´ve been to in Ecuador. We arrived at night, spotted the metal sign at the side of the Panamericana in Lasso (before the tampon factory) and followed a paved lane into the middle of nowhere (ok, only 1km but it was dark). We were just wondering when a sign would help us when suddenly on the left we could see a mansion lit up at the end of a drive. That´s La Ciénaga.
When we arrived the staff were literally falling over themselves to carry our bags to our room and a different pair did the same when we left. One man, César, showed us the luxurious suite where Alexander Von Humboldt stayed when he travelled through Ecuador in the 18th century theorizing about the nature of the planet. Unfortunately we didn´t stay there but our room was pretty nice as well – it was Room 32 which is actually a two-room suite with a fireplace and armchairs. There were also electric heaters so even Maria Fernanda couldn´t feel cold. Bathroom was large, shower was good, just a shame we could smell the drains.
We went to dinner. It was an elegant room with stylish chairs. The menu featured the standard mix of chicken, meat and fish dishes. The food was acceptable except for the chicken consommé, which had no flavor. Basically you are paying more for being in a hotel but not for outstanding culinary quality.
We were entertained by the Cotopaxi ensemble who came in and played a few songs starting with El Condor Pasa.
Next morning I went to explore with Santino. We had fun walking around the corridors looking at the old photos and the numerous lounges. There are so many armchairs and the hotel that you could spend a week just moving from one to another with a good book.
Afterwards we passed from the central garden through to another which led to the swimming pool (not in use), tennis court (not in use) and volleyball court (playable). Santino was happy anyway climbing about on a tractor and playing on the swings.
From there we walked up past a tethered llama to discover a large grass football pitch and then ran through the trees on the other side to emerge half way up the long drive.
After that it was time for breakfast; fruit and yoghurt, eggs or pancake, bread and jam. Fairly standard but done well. Maria Fernanda overheard a guest talking about ghosts which was enough to convince her of their presence, though we didn’t sense any in room 32.
La Ciénaga is a bit out of the way (you wouldn’t spend the day looking round Lasso) but fairly convenient to Cotopaxi National Park or a great place to stop en route north or south.
Best of all you could just escape there with a few books and forget about the outside world for a couple of days.
La Quinta Hostería
Definitely the best hotel in town, although there isn’t much competition. To get there you must follow the main street past the railway station and uphill towards El Puente Negro (black bridge). La Quinta is on your left. There is a buzzer on a large wooden door to get access and car parking inside.
The rooms are small but the beds are comfortable. There is one larger family room with a balcony. The bathrooms have quality fittings and the shower was good. The restaurant is well decorated, in keeping with the rustic feel and there are two small terraces where you can enjoy the mountain air and views across the valley.
The owner, Guillermo was very helpful, though my mum felt a little put off that he was always ‘there’ in the background. He also has a very friendly dog, foggy, who demands a bit of love every time you go in from the street.
Located in a central location on the busiest street in Ambato. You have to climb up quite a lot of stairs but inside it’s warm and pleasant. Rooms are small but clean with powerful, hot showers. Tiled floors. Good bed linen. Excellent value. Parking available in their lock up in the next block.
We went to this hotel (to my mind it shouldn´t be called hostería) on a whim one weekend. Apparently it is often booked out to large gatherings but we stayed in a family room which served our needs. The rooms are fairly simple, but do have a private bathroom. There is a swimming pool with a fantastic view around the surrounding valley which you can explore on the paths created by local peasants to get to their crops. Downstairs is a large open area which serves as reception, dining area and TV room.
There´s not much to do in Balsapamba but Getsemaní makes a pleasant stop if you´re travelling along the Ambato – Babahoyo route. if you do have your own vehicle there is car parking at the side and you can make a few excursions to waterfalls and a museum. See the Balsapamba page for more information.
Villa Santa Clara
This hotel is tucked away on a quiet street in the south east corner of town, near to the waterfall and opposite the park. The elderly owners are very friendly, although they want your money up front. The rooms are located on two floors around a small garden. Every room has decent beds, a TV and a private bathroom with a good shower. There is a restaurant for breakfast and some parking space. Cheap, clean and comfortable.
We left Guayaquil on a hot, humid December afternoon and when we arrived in Pallatanga it was getting dark and starting to rain. By the time we found El Pedregal (sign-posted, but down a few dark narrow streets), it was torrential. Next to a fast flowing river and flanked by steep hillsides, it is a little rough and ready but a very refreshing place to stay. Waking up to bright sunshine, it was great to be able to hear the river and breathe the fresh mountain air. The cabins are on one side and each has enough beds for a family. There is a balcony with chairs. Below is a basketball court, table tennis tables, swimming pool (cold) and even a small boating lake. The restaurant serves breakfast and can provide a decent lunch on request. They directed us to follow a road uphill to a series of waterfalls. We found one but local inhabitants assured us that was it. It was quite nice but only worth it if you have a car and a head for steep steps.
Abraspungo is located a few km outside Riobamba, down a rough track on the left just off the road north to Guano (keep an eye out for the sign as it’s easy to miss). You could just about walk down the track with your luggage but you would be a bit isolated in terms of travelling around the area or especially into the city to get the early morning train.
It is a lovely place to stay. An attractive one-storey, whitewashed main building is supported by timber beams. Leading off the main corridor you step down into the restaurant or billiard room. There are also other rooms to sit and relax and a heated outside area.
The rooms are at the back and are large and comfortable id a little cold and dark. They are all named after mountains. We did have to change from our first room which had a funny smell (drains?). The second had a high tech looking shower which was actually highly unsatisfying. Water came out in all directions but weakly, on all settings.
Around the building is a grass lawn and many plants as well as a football pitch (watch out for the hens), a children’s play area and volleyball net. The owners live in a separate bungalow to the side.
I recommend Abraspungo if you’ll have a few hours to enjoy the space (it’s quite expensive for an overnight stop). The food is nice (excellent buffet breakfast) and it’s easy to sit and relax. The service was excellent from the smiling staff in the restaurant but I felt the owners were a bit impersonal, although they did deal with the room change very well.
This hotel gave us an excellent price for a family room and we couldn´t believe it when breakfast (albeit a basic one) was offered as well. The room was OK; the beds were clean but the fittings felt a bit old and worn and there wasn´t much space. The shower was hot and powerful but in a tiny space; I received the water at point blank range.
The staff were helpful and there is also free overnight car parking (you have to get the vehicle at 8am or entrust the porter to park it on the street for you). You can also go up to the roof and see part of the Cuenca skyline, enough to reveal it looks nothing like Athens.
Hotel Boutique Arassari
I´m not sure why hotels think they are boutiques. This is just a nice hotel. It is an attractive red building on a corner fronting the main road, on the entrance into Piñas, so easy to find. There is a terrace and a couple of balconies with OK views of the hillsides (and the construction across the road). There are two lounge areas where you can sit and relax and read. The hotel has been decorated with candles, vases, paintings, photos of volcanoes and little trinkets which might not be to everyone´s taste but at least add some life to the place. All rooms are named after birds and have an en-suite bathroom and cable TV. The best ones are at the front: Gralaria de Joctoco and Colibrí which both cost $25 for a large room with a double bed and a sofa bed. There is car-parking across the street.
A pretty basic hostel but cheap. Painted yellow and green as you would expect. It has a nice patio area downstairs where you can sit to eat, or write. There are a selection of games and a TV room with DVD’s. Rooms are sparse but adequate. Good place to meet people.
This is a popular café/ restaurant with rooms off the side. So don’t stay here if you want to go to sleep at 8pm. Rooms are comfortable and the café is a nice place to sit in, though you’ll have to share it with a lot of people in the evening. Another good place to meet people.
Hostería Dos Chorreras
This hostería is located on the edge of Cajas National Park. It is next to a restaurant with Cuencanos at weekends. The restaurant opens for lunch but closes in the evening. They do serve guests breakfast but if you like an evening meal you will have to travel down to Cuenca which is a fair distance away.
From outside the hostería looks like a family house. Downstairs is a large lounge and dining area, with a fire and TV. There is a kettle and microwave. It’s a very nice place to relax. The rooms are comfortable, with good beds and clean bathrooms. There are several double rooms and a family room.
For me, the best thing about Dos Chorreras is the beautiful location. In the day you can visit the adjoining trout farm, visit the small indigenous village which serves as a museum or walk up to the Dos Chorreras waterfall. You can also continue into the park. It’s a great place to go and escape from the city if you are based in Cuenca or Guayaquil. The hostería is located just off the main road between the cities. A sign directs you the 100m along a dirt track. It’s possible to get there by public transport, though easier by car.
An interesting conversion of an old building that is part of an upmarket national hotel chain. It is located on Calle Larga and has an attractive stone façade. Behind it there is a small garden which drops down to the river. You also descend to the river and some of the rooms. There is an elevator to service these floors, however the steps at the front entrance and from the car park at the back hinder disabled access.
The best rooms are on the top floor – two suites with a rear-facing balcony, king sized bed and anti-room. They cost $100 including taxes. There are also some nice family rooms opposite but I don’t know if there would be noise from the street at night.
The staff were attentive and helpful throughout, especially Roberto who never seemed to sleep and insisted on serving breakfast in his white gloves. Everyone was very kind and considerate to our son who was getting quite used to the treatment by the end of the stay. Excellent bread and coffee at breakfast. Shower took a long time to heat up – a waste of water but was hot and powerful after 10 minutes. There is supposed to be wi-fi throughout the hotel but we couldn’t connect – staff thought out computer was blocking the connection and let us use the computer in their office several times.
This is a little hostel in the centre of Vilcabamba. As you might expect, you enter into an attractive, open garden with a swimming pool. The rooms are set around it. They are small and basic but the breakfast is delicious and if the sun is out you will feel totally relaxed and comfortable there.
Located a little way outside Vilcabamba and not on the main road. From the village you have to take a pick up or walk along a dirt track towards the Rio Yambala. There’s plenty of people who live along the way so getting transport shouldn’t be that difficult.
The cabanas are owned by an American and British couple. They have built a lovely place, surrounded by nature. There are four cabins on a hillside. One has a kitchen so you could stay there and write your novel. During the day you can walk a number of paths using the maps provided. You can also trek up to stay at Las Palmas, their refuge located on the continental divide. Or you can just chill. Delicious breakfast. The couple have some two smart children who can tell you some interesting stories.
Hotel El Jardín
This hideaway is located on a side road south of town. Look for the signs or get a taxi from the bus office. The rooms are located either side of an attractive garden which is the pride of the friendly owner, hence the name. The rooms are fairly simple, but they are clean, well-furnished and a good size. There is a terrace where you can sit and enjoy the peace and quiet ( only disturbed by the animals at the foot of the garden). There is a space to park about four cars.