So you’ve decided to take the plunge and plan an Ecuador family vacation — maybe a Galapagos Islands cruise, or perhaps a combination of cultural sights with a trek in the jungle. Either way, chances are your trip will include a stop in Quito, the capital and cultural hub of the country.
Although there are modern chain hotels with swimming pools in the newer part of town, for a short stay, I prefer to base in Quito’s old town. Ecuador feels foreign to most kids, and the historical center is an opportunity to experience colonial history that will resonate with current and future classroom studies. I stayed at Hotel Patio Andaluz and La Casona de la Ronda on my recent Ecuador family vacation. With reasonable pricing and multiple room configurations for families, they’re worthy of a spot on your short list.
Quito’s historical center dates back to 1534. As in most Latin American colonial architecture, nondescript exteriors open up to courtyards, gardens and warm hospitality. There are no swimming pools and there’s not much room to run in the historical center, but there is a strong sense of place as you walk on cobblestone streets through the plazas.
Hotel Patio Andaluz is centrally located within the historical center: a block from leafy Independence Plaza, the main square, and within a 10-minute walk to many of the main sights. Restaurants and cafes line the plaza and nearby streets, though the hotel has a popular restaurant and small bar as well. After a tiring day of walking on the cobblestones, it was a relief to know that we could eat in without feeling like we were missing out.
The most striking feature of the hotel is the abundance of public spaces where guests can gather. It’s surprisingly spacious inside, with light coming in from rooftop windows to illuminate the atrium. Little nooks, rooms and a loft area for reading and relaxing appear around each corner and stairwell. The cavelike bar with stone walls, straight out of Madrid, is a cozy spot for an adult drink.
The hotel’s 32 rooms work well for families, especially the two-level duplex rooms. These easily sleep a family of six and each have an inside balcony overlooking the atrium and restaurant. The decor throughout is Spanish colonial with wood accents and colorful walls and paintings. Ecuador’s signature roses are forever appearing in bouquets and bunches on tables throughout the the hotel. From my 10-year-old’s perspective, Hotel Patio Andaluz is a place where there are “nice things but you’re not afraid to touch them.”
Nothing says more about a hotel than how they react when things are not going well. We were at meltdown point when I arrived at La Casona de la Ronda on a Friday night, with an email from my previous hotel (three hours away in Baños) that I had left my wallet in my room. I was leaving for a Galapagos Islands cruise at 7:30 the next morning; my husband was going home after the cruise, and I would be solo with the kids. Not good.
Luckily I had my passport and the fantastic hotel manager, Maria, on my side. Maria took over and made arrangements for my wallet to be sent via secure mail so I could retrieve it upon my return to Quito. It arrived intact and the can-do, personalized service earned an A+.
The boutique hotel is situated in the middle of La Ronda pedestrian street, which is lined with artisan shops and restaurants. On weekend nights, the street fills with Quitenos out for the evening. During the day, the area is quiet; it comes alive in the afternoon, a perfect time to stroll La Ronda with kids. It’s safe to walk to other areas of the historical center during the day, but at night a taxi is recommended, as there are pockets of streets with little activity.
La Casona de la Ronda has a variety of rooms centered around an inner patio. The setting feels like a page out of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel, with vine-encircled, floral-painted hallways and staircases. Some rooms face La Ronda street, while others open to a living garden wall. Bathrooms are modern; rooms are simply decorated and spacious for larger families. The communal areas are welcoming and there’s a small restaurant and a bar area in the reception. Don’t miss the attic with views of Quito. For families, this is a value-oriented hotel with excellent service and rooms under $200/night.
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Editor’s Note: Kristi received a media package to review the hotels. As always, our opinions are our own. Photos by Kristi Marcelle.
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