If you’re one in the growing population of travelers dead-set on checking-off your bucket-list trips post-COVID, chances are you’re seriously considering the Galapagos as your next big-ticket-trip.
And chances are that in that planning you’ve considered Quito, the capital city of Ecuador, as your jumping off point since the archipelago and its exotic wildlife lies about 6t00 miles off of Ecuador’s coastline.
While the city does serve that purpose perhaps better than any other major South American City, there’s a lot more to it than that.
The city is located at the Guayllabamba river basin in the Andres Mountains. At 9,350 ft., it is the second-highest capital city in the world behind La Paz, Bolivia.
Travel + Leisure called the city “more than just a stopover” for a Galapagos. Instead, it categorized the capital city, which his the closest capital city to the Equator in the world, as “a place of mystery and wonder” with top-notch cuisine and an historic old-town that is one of the least-altered historic cities in the Americas.
Forbes, which has it ranked as one of its Places to See in 2022, says that the city is increasingly earning a spot on those bucket-lists.
“High in the Andes, and built on the foundations of an ancient Inca city, Quito Ecuador is renowned for Spanish-colonial buildings dating back more than 500 years; not surprisingly, it’s the first UNESCO World Heritage Site capital city, and is now recognized as “Best Leading Destination in South America” by the World Travel Awards,” Forbes writes.
If you’re look to add Quito onto a Galapagos trip, or simply take in the city itself, here’s where to start:
T+L calls this property, the fifth-place winner in its 2021 list of Best South American hotels, “the picture of sophistication and colonial history.”
“Casa Gangotena has neoclassical columns, charming gardens, and 31 pristine rooms awaiting city-dwelling travelers. Situated above Plaza San Francisco, guests are invited to relax from the comfort of a terrace, or to head out into exciting Quito to explore the beautiful surroundings and striking architecture that draws travelers from all over the globe,” T+L says.
The hotel, which just recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, offers a number of rooms starting at its 387 sq. ft. Luxury Rooms, its standard offerings, all the way up to 785 sq. ft. Suite that offers more space for families and for visiting dignitaries.
There’s also a Junior Suite that Casa Gangotena calls “one of the most special rooms” at the property, a room that “used to be the ‘tea room’ of the Gangotena family, where the family’s women and friends would gather. The suite overlooks the garden and El Panecillo, a 650 ft. Hill in the center of the city.”
The hotel also includes La Belle Epoque, a festive restaurant that also includes a basement wine rung called El Claustro.
For more, head to the Casa Gangotena homepage.
Hotel Plaza Grande
Hotel Plaza Grande might be the most historic hotel in Quito. When it was built in 1930, the five-story hotel was first building in Quito to be more than two stories. And, after changing owners and going through renovations during its 80-plus year history, it still holds onto its roots.
Conde Nast says of this 15-room property, “An antidote to the concrete towers of modern Quito, the Hotel Plaza Grande, on the Centro Histórico’s main square, has brought a new level of comfort to the capital.
“Heated marble floors in the bathrooms break the Andean night chill, while bath butlers can be summoned to infuse your whirlpool with indigenous essences. The original Majestic drew Ecuador’s elite until it closed in 1970, and Quiteños are now returning to the ground-floor café and the champagne and cognac bars on the top floor.”
Rooms include three Plaza View Suites that run up to 260 sq. ft., 11 Royal Suites that offer views of García Moreno Street and the Convent of Las Conceptas or of the Casa de los Alcaldes and the Archbishop’s Palace, and one Presidential Suite that includes a lounge with a balcony, a dining room, a kitchen, a room with two balconies and al view of the Plaza de la Independencia.
For more, head to the hotel’s homepage.
JW Marriott Hotel Quito
The most modern of the these three hotels, JW Marriott does it best to blend into Quito while also standing out.
The hotel, a pyramid-style structure with a glass atrium, is located in the city’s La Mariscal area, the business district, and is short walk from the bustling Plaza Foch section with its restaurants and shops.
While it feels like a business hotel, it also doesn’t feel “too corporate,” according to The Telegraph, which writes “guests are spoiled with views of the surrounding mountains through an enormous glass ceiling, while large windows provide vistas over the hotel’s pools and garden.”
The standout feature of the hotel, according to the Telegraph, is its service and facilities.
“The staff are pleasant, helpful and speak an excellent level of English; waiters were particularly friendly and attentive…Facilities are plentiful and of a high quality: there are three pools, a huge fitness center and a large spa complete with saunas, steam rooms and hydrotherapy pools.”
All of its rooms, starting at its standard Deluxe Rooms, include large bathrooms adorned with marble with huge baths and separate toilets. The jewel of its rooms is its Presidential Suite, which includes three bedrooms, including a master bedroom with its own terrace.
For food and drink, the hotel offers a lobby bar that serves cocktails and sushi, the Bistro Latino that serves ceviche and churrasco, and La Hacienda, an Argentinean steakhouse.
For more, go to the JW Marriott Hotel Quito homepage.