Holiday Inspiration

Five of the Best Places to Go in Ecuador

By Susan Ward Davies

Hacienda El Porvenir

On the slopes of Rumiñahui volcano, with spectacular views of the permanently snow- covered peak of the still-active Cotopaxi volcano, this traditional, grass-roofed adobe hacienda combines the atmosphere of a working mountain farm with all modern comfort. 24 rooms and suites, each with their own log-burning stoves or fires, are set around a wide cobbled courtyard. The living room, where sofas and armchairs are arranged around the blazing hearth, feels like a comfortable London club - perfect for slumping in after an exhilarating ride across the grasslands of the high Andes.

Vía Láctea 350 y Chimborazo, via al Colegio Menor, Cumbayá, Quito, tierradelvolcan.com Doubles from £25, b&b.

Mansion Alcázar

This converted townhouse is right in the heart of the lovely UNESCO World Heritage-listed old quarter of Cuenca, with 15 rooms and nine suites all decorated in a lavish colonial style. Expect hand- painted silk hangings, crystal chandeliers and voluptuous putti at every turn, with the emphasis on complete luxury, from vast comfortable beds to beautiful bathrooms. Hummingbirds flit among the jasmine and bougainvillea in the walled garden, where breakfast is served in the open-sided restaurant, which, with a menu combining the best of Andean and Pacific coastal cuisine, is one of the best in the city.

Bolívar 12-55 y Tarqui, Cuenca, mansionalcazar.com Doubles from £66, room only.

Rumiloma

Irish-born Amber Freire and her Ecuadorian husband, Ossy, have created a very special boutique hotel perched on the mountainside above Quito. Blending traditional Andean architecture with top modern design, each room and suite has artisan-made furniture, huge four-poster beds and fabulous bathrooms with hand-tiled tubs overlooking the steep, jungle-clad mountains below. The restaurant, where a large log fire keeps the high altitude chill at bay, continues the theme with a lengthy Ecuadorian fusion menu from sea, mountain and jungle. The ground floor, with exposed beams, huge, walk-in fire place and long bar, is the place to gather after a long day’s hiking in the surrounding hills, overlooking the shimmering city lights below.

Obispo de la Madrid s/n al final de la calle Quito, rumiloma.com Doubles from £220, b&b.

Casa Gangotena

In the heart of Quito’s old colonial quarter, the Casa Gangotena has only just opened after a total revamp. The former 1920s palace of an aristocratic Ecuadorian family, each of its 31 rooms is a showcase of eclectic styles, from the original art nouveau ceilings to Statuarietto marble bathrooms. With its glass-roofed central courtyard fronting a pretty garden of exotic tropical flowers, wood-panelled library and panoramic terrace on the third floor overlooking the Pichincha volcano, this blend of old world charm and modern elegance make the Casa Gangotena the perfect Quito hideaway.

Bolivar Oe6-41 y Cuenca, Quito, casagangotena.com Doubles from £290, b&b

Mansión del Ángel

Set in the opulent townhouse of a tobacco tycoon, designed by an Italian architect at the turn of the last century, the Mansión del Ángel has been lovingly restored to its former colonial glory. A sweeping staircase leads up from a luxurious salon dotted with palms and overstuffed leather sofas, to high-ceilinged bedrooms with vast, handmade, sink-into four-poster beds and highly polished period furniture. In the wide courtyard a modern spa, complete with marble whirlpool, overlooks the walled garden, and this, coupled with one of the best restaurants in town, ensure a steady stream of Quito’s high society.

Calle Los Ríos N13-134 y Pasaje Ascencio Gándara, Quito, mansion.neu.com.ec Doubles from £95, inc breakfast, afternoon tea and taxes.

For more on Ecuador, check out February issue of ELLE

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