Casa Gangotena is a stunningly restored colonial mansion in the heart of Quito's historic centre, with balconies overlooking the picturesque Plaza San Francisco. This hotel really is hard to beat - it offers the most luxurious stay in the city; the atmosphere is intrinsically traditional and elegant interiors are adorned with beautiful art, antiques, original frescoed ceilings and opulent furnishings of chandeliers and Egyptian marble columns, transporting you to a bygone era.
The rooms are exquisite, both visually and in terms of comfort, with soft carpets, cool colours, ornate mirrors, tall ceilings and French windows letting the equatorial light seep in. Many rooms open out to the small enchanting garden and city views, taking in the iconic old-town skyline. My favourite rooms are either one of the Plaza suites, where I can sit for hours watching the people meander in and out of the square, or a Balcony Junior Suite, with beautiful views up to the Virgin of Quito looking down over the city, and we’ll always request the best available rooms for our clients. The restaurant has a menu showcasing a variety of Ecuadorian cuisines – breakfast is a wonderful buffet of American/local offerings. British High Tea in the orchid-filled patio and cocktails on the roof terrace are also a must. They make a great gin/vodka and tonic.
Having seen three others of the ‘top’ hotels in Quito, this is by far my top hotel choice for a couple of nights exploring Quito's history and architecture before venturing into rural Ecuador. It’s also a lovely place to settle after a long international flight and enjoy your creature-comforts in beautiful surroundings. On arrival, why not treat yourself to a traditional spa treatment to shake off the jet-lag and start your holiday refreshed and revitalised; ready to take on the sites.
A trip to Quito wouldn’t be complete without visiting its beautiful churches, each individually designed with intricate stone carvings, stain-glass windows, elaborate roof-murals and bell towers stretching to the heavens, giving the city its rather prepossessing sky-line. I love to arrange privately guided explorations for my clients to visit the most stunning sites including the Plaza Santo Domingo, the Presidential Palace and the neo-Gothic Basilica with its gargoyles representing the creatures of the Galapagos. The City Museum is also well worth a wander. Chocolate tasting is a must when in a country renowned for (and proud of) its cocoa production (any excuse!) - Pacari is one of the best chocolate makers in Quito. There’s also some fun shopping here, particularly in the bustling markets of Otovalo, and there are plenty of souvenirs to brighten things up back at home. Whilst Casa Gangotena would always be my top recommendation, we are able to recommend other smaller, more intimate hotels as well.
Every time I explore a new destination, whether it’s on an adventure holiday in Peru or a luxury beach escape in the Indian Ocean, I return home full of excitement to share the amazing sights I have seen. Through my own experiences I have developed a love of helping others experience the great wonders of the world; truly getting under the skin of the extraordinary destinations that are at your fingertips. Getting the details right, from which hotel is perfectly located for exploring away from the crowds, to which local guide is most knowledgeable on history or culture or art, is of paramount importance to me. I am constantly seeking out new and exciting experiences and exploring off the beaten track to ensure my clients are receiving the best and most honest first-hand advice.
Take a look at my travel diaries for food for thought on your next trip...