For the third year in a row, Quito has won the “Oscar” of the tourism awards. Competing in the World Travel Awards with other attractive destinations such as Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Bogota, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires, the Ecuadorian capital was declared the “Destination Leader of South America” for 2015. Having also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site back in 1978, this Andean city has excellent tourism infrastructure, which contributed to its winning the more recent award.

Though situated at almost 2-miles above sea level, Quito possesses accommodations for all tastes and pocketbooks. In recent years, new hotels have been built, but what is especially noteworthy is the abundance of heritage hotels, which offer guests all the creature comforts and services of the world’s finest hotels. Here we present a collection six upscale hotels in the Ecuadorian capital: from colonial-style mansions transformed into boutique hotels, to updated haciendas in the middle of expansive wildlife reserves, and spa hotels. Experience these charming guest accommodations that combine elegance and comfort with the warmth of personalized service and the friendly touches of the people of Quito.

1. Casa Gangotena

The Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel is full of history and traditions. This imposing structure – a former mansion of a prestigious local family – is part of the landscape of the city’s historic district. Located on San Francisco Plaza, next to the church and convent of the same name, the building was built on the ruins of an ancient tianguez (an indigenous market). It’s even said that the site might have later been that of an Inca temple, in the 15th century.

1 Casa-Gangotena Quito

In the centuries that followed, many wealthy families of the city built their mansions around San Francisco Plaza. One of those was the Gangotena family, whose members included politicians, academics, industrialists, poets and landowners. In 1914, their stately mansion was seriously damaged by a fire, but the building regained its splendor by 1924 with the help of Italian architect Antonio Russo, whose family ordered its meticulous reconstruction.

Nonetheless, the immense mansion later closed its doors for several decades, which is why the recent reopening of the building became a source of pride and delight for many people of Quito. The regal and historic home was converted into a stunning hotel with eclectic décor and an intimate atmosphere. Its 31 rooms reflect both classic and contemporary architectural, which are combined with all the amenities to ensure maximum comfort. An inner courtyard with lush native flowers, an elegant salon, and a terrace with a wonderful view of San Francisco Plaza are elements that entice all its guests.

Casa Gangotena
3 Casa-Gangotena Quito

For its gourmet cuisine, the hotel received “The Golden Rose” award in both 2014 and 2015. Its “Cedron” restaurant provides guests dining experiences of varying textures, colors and flavors. In Casa Gangotena’s kitchen, traditional knowledge and modern techniques are used, as the dining staff is committed to maintaining Ecuadorian culinary heritage at gourmet standards. Their fusion cuisine incorporates flavors that come from the Andes and Ecuador’s Pacific Rim. All of this is accompanied by more than 100 brands of wines, while guests are assisted with special recommendations from the chief chef and expert sommeliers

This new page in the history of Casa Gangotena has been exceedingly successful. Since its inauguration in 2011, the hotel has won several major awards and honors, including recognition as the “Best Hotel in Ecuador,” the “Best Hotel in South America” (Trip Advisor) and one of the “25 Best Hotels in the World.”

This virtual tour will give you a closer look, but only by staying at Casa Gangotena can you enjoy this environment that combines history, sophistication and warmth in the heart of one of the most beautiful and best preserved historic centers in Latin America.

2. Hacienda Rumiloma

Imagine this: You can relish every comfort while staying at a plush hotel on the slopes of a volcano in the middle of an ecological reserve in an Andean forest. That’s the experience provided at Hacienda Rumiloma.

With the charm of an Andean hacienda, and all services and details of a first-class hotel, Rumiloma has a perfect location: only ten minutes from Quito’s historic district, while perched on the inclines of Pichincha Volcano, thus allowing guests a spectacular view of the city.

4 Rumiloma Quito
5 Rumiloma Quito

Hacienda Rumiloma possesses six suites, each appointed with a unique combination of antiques and art from the country’s various regions. With all the amenities of a five-star hotel, these guest accommodations are comfortable and spacious – each measuring at least 1,900 feet. They are designed like small houses, crafted of adobe and stones from the area. Each has a fireplace, social areas, its own private bathroom, a terrace and an interior garden.

The Hacienda’s restaurant deserves its own chapter. With colorful, highly detailed decor, a spectacular view of the city, a private area for up to 16 people, and an authentic Irish pub, this is an elegant and charming estate. Guests can order masterfully prepared national and international cuisine, cocktails, music and wine from Argentina, Chile, Spain and Italy. The hotel also has a conference room, a VIP room and large green areas.

Rumiloma also offers such interesting experiences as its Chocolate Tasting Tour (with a visit to the local farmers market included); a Culinary Tour (accompanied by a cooking class and wine tasting); and a visit to the Chaupi Winery to learn the process of producing one of the most important Ecuadorian wines.

An experience that combines nature, serenity, delicious food, spectacular views, elegant rooms and a chance to learn about the local culture are some of what Quito’s Hacienda Rumiloma has to offer the discerning guest.

3. JW Marriott Hotel 

It’s impossible not to gawk. The imposing building is located in the center of Quito’s modern north-side, where it occupies a large area that’s close to shopping centers, an expansive park, offices and residential areas. Nonetheless, it’s less than 15 short minutes from the city’s historic district.

The JW Marriott Hotel, which has received awards from Trip Advisor and Frommers, is the definition of a first-class stay. With all the amenities of a five-star hotel, the property includes several theme restaurants and an elegant full-service spa.

6 Marriott Quito
7 Marriott Quito

The JW Marriott has 257 rooms, each featuring a marble bathroom, cable TV, a mini bar, coffee, soundproof windows, individual climate control, two telephone lines, Internet, AM/FM radio, a safe, and access to the Executive Lounge.

In the Health Club, you can take advantage of a variety of services, including manicures, pedicures, and facials employing various techniques and products. In the gym, you can request a personally instructed aerobics workout, or relax in either the indoor Jacuzzi or the beautiful heated outdoor hot tub that is back-dropped by waterfalls and footbridges.

The cuisine deserves a separate point. Served in the five restaurants at JW Marriott are a variety of Ecuadorian dishes, as well as Argentine, Mexican, Peruvian, Japanese and international fusion cuisine, which can be accompanied by fine wines and cocktails. The Café Gourmet is dedicated to the lovers of coffee, while breakfasts served at Bistro Latino are a healthy and delicious buffet.

The hotel also has another highly demanded service: organizing professional and social events. In fact, some 1,200 square meters (13,000 square feet) of the hotel (32 rooms) are used for all kinds of events – from conventions to lavish weddings. For these activities, guests will find themselves surprised by the menus that can be designed with the help of the hotel’s expert chefs (for example).

In summary: elegance, comfort, relaxation, a good location, fast and stable connectivity, and delicious food – all in one place.

4. Swissôtel Quito

One of the most luxurious hotels in the city, Swissôtel Quito combines the elements of a five-star stay with elegant spa services (its name – the “Amrita Spa” – honors the immortality-giving drink of the gods, according to legend).

Swissôtel is located in the Floresta district, one Quito’s cultural areas where art coexists with good food. It’s less than 20 minutes from city’s historic district and 5 minutes from the Fosch district, Quito’s zona rosa(“pink zone,” or entertainment area).

8 Swissotel Quito
9 Swissotel Quito

Swissôtel has 232 rooms, 43 executive apartments, the full services of a first-class hotel, and beautiful views of the city – all in a warm environment that guarantees cheery, personal attention. Guests of the executive rooms and suites have access to the services of the Executive Lounge, an ideal place to read, relax, work, eat a snack, have a drink, or simply enjoy the panoramic view of the city.

But, undoubtedly, the Amrita Spa is the star of the hotel. This facility is also the reason why many executives, in addition to usual guests, have become hooked on this health center. A gym equipped with modern machines and qualified instructors; squash, tennis and racquetball facilities; a bubble bath, polar bath, swimming pool, sauna and 80 (!) relaxation treatments are part of the spa’s services.

In the hotel are five restaurants, a deli, a coffee shop and a bar. From a casual meal with friends, to celebrating a milestone event, everything can be found and enjoyed at this first-class hotel.

5. Hotel Plaza Grande

The Hotel Plaza Grande can count five centuries of history. The building that houses it was the first to be built during the Spanish founding of the city, in the 16th century. As in most of the imposing houses of Quito’s historic district, in this building once lived some of the city’s richest families of colonial times.

10 Plaza-Grande Quito
11 Plaza Grande Quito

This property, in particular, was the home of Juan Díaz de Hidalgo, one of the founders of the city and later the first judge of Quito. In the early 20th century, the mansion became the first luxury hotel in the city.

Located on “Independence Square” (or Plaza Grande), the walls, corridors, and rooms of this building’s eclectic architecture breathe history. Staying here is an experience that allows travelers to palpably sense the very spirit of this ancient city.

Then too, Hotel Plaza Grande has some important “neighbors.” In front of it are the Government Palace and the Cathedral; while on its left is the Municipio (“City Hall”) of Quito. The surrounding landscape – which can be appreciated from the suites – is framed by the domes of churches and the sculpture of the colossal “Virgin of Quito” statue, which stands above the city on Panecillo Hill. This five-star hotel is really in the heart of Quito’s historic center – the largest in South America and one of the best preserved in the world.

In Plaza Grande Hotel are 15 suites, each decorated in colonial style. All have private bathrooms, a Jacuzzi, linen bedding (for allergy sufferers), a safe, air conditioning and the other amenities of a first-class hotel. But perhaps the most attractive detail of the suites is the view of the city’s main square. At night, the magic of the illuminated “Old Town” gives the hotel a special charm.

And how about live opera while you eat and appreciate the architectural beauty of the historic district? That’s the wonder of the hotel’s restaurant – La Belle Epoque. With classic decor, the atmosphere of the 1940s has been re-created with an elegant atmosphere and warm service. The hotel also features the Café Plaza Grande and the Cava del Claustro, where guests can enjoy a variety of fine wines and cocktails.

The Salón San Francisco is the outdoor terrace that the Hotel Plaza Grande uses for special events. From there, you can see the bright domes of the churches of the area, colonial buildings and the legendary Independence Plaza, which has witnessed many political and social events that marked the life of the city and nation.

In addition, guests can undergo health treatments and therapies in the spa and take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride through the historic district of Quito. Take a peek here.

6. Hotel Patio Andaluz

This hotel is a historic and architectural jewel located in the heart of Quito’s historic district, also known as the Ciudad Vieja (the “Old City”). Occupying a building with several centuries of history, its walls and facade witnessed the Spanish founding of the city.

El Patio Andaluz is the first boutique hotel the Old City of Quito, and one of the most luxurious and comfortable in town. It is located just 150 meters from Independence Square, and minutes from historical sites such as the San Francisco Plaza, the Church de la Compañía (a jewel of Baroque art), and Sucre Theater (one of the largest and most important in the city).

12 Patio Anduluz Quito

The Hotel Patio Andaluz is a 16th century colonial-style mansion. Its architecture, with large arches and courtyards, provides comfortable rooms with classic and ornate colonial-style furniture, polished wood floors, private bathrooms and cable television service. There is free Wi-Fi in the public areas, laundry service and a 24-hour reception desk.

Its restaurant, the Rincón de Cantuña, is situated in the courtyard and is another of the high points of the hotel. Spanish cuisine, local specialties and a variety of wines from its own cellar are served in the smart and classic atmosphere there. The hotel also has a Latin tapas (“snack bar”) serving delicious treats.

The Patio Andaluz has 32 rooms, 11 of which are suites and 21 standard rooms. There is a reading room, space for relaxation and a crafts shop – all in a comfortable and stylish atmosphere.

Another “plus” of Hotel Patio Andaluz is its promotion of the Rainforest Alliance’s best practices program of sustainable tourism. The managers and employees are committed to generating the least possible environmental impact in the operation of this boutique hotel. Through commitments like water conservation, rational energy use, waste reduction, recycling, and others, Patio Andaluz contributes to protecting the environment.

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator.

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