Casa Gangotena, sitting in the heart of historic Quito, makes my top five luxury hotel picks for 2014 travel in South America. Perched atop the beautiful Plaza San Francisco, the Spanish architecture invites you in to the cozy interiors once used by Ecuadorian presidents and the illustrious Gangotena family since 1926.
Greeted by the smiling staff, you can’t help but notice the entire place is outfitted with original plaster work, paintings and murals. Guests can’t help but be taken back to a time of elegance and civility, long-gone in many other parts of the world. Rooms are grand, many with views of the Andes mountains and the plaza. Most feature huge, comfortable beds with imported linens, large marble bathrooms, sizable picture windows and generous toiletries for the guests’ use.
Once settled-in and your clothing unpacked into the large closets, head to the restaurant on the ground floor for a brunch fit for a king. Eggs and pancakes made to order as well as local dishes like arroz con pollo and seafood specialties from the coast all make delicious options. The hotel makes excellent use of the year-round fresh fruit and vegetables by integrating them into homemade yogurts, juices, pastries and quiche. The food with honestly blow you away.
The hotel’s staff make it very clear that your happiness is their priority. No request is too large and they are happy to assist with anything from dinner reservations, historical city tours, car service, shopping suggestions and more. At just the mention of a birthday within our small group, we were happily surprised to find a beautiful Ecuadorian chocolate torte in the room with “Happy Birthday” written in chocolate too – no charge. This hotel knows that love is in the details.
After a day out in the city, Gangotena is a respite for relaxation. I love the Quiteño (the word used to describe those from Quito) coffee break around 4:00 pm. Sit in the quiet lobby or in the back garden to enjoy Ecuadorian espresso, pastries and finger sandwiches from the chef. This is enough time to reboot and soak up some of the refreshing Andes mountain air. Choosing Gangotena is not and option, but a must for any first-timer to Quito. There’s no better or more luxurious home away from home in the city – I promise.