Quito’s Old Town is the largest and best-preserved in Latin America. The first city to be named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, it is home to no less than 40 churches and chapels, 16 convents and monasteries with their respective cloisters, 17 plazas, 12 chapter rooms and refectories, 12 museums and countless courtyards. Truly the ‘Reliquary of the Americas’.
Over the last decade, the Quito authorities have been engaged in a huge regeneration project. The result has been the transformation of the historic centre. Investment has been directed to improving traffic conditions, restoring mansions and streets, building new shopping centres and cultural centres, installing dramatic lighting and providing increased security. Few cities in the world can boast such a fast face-lift.
While the Old Town was under the knife, travellers still generally found accommodation in the northern, more modern sectors of the city. But all that’s changed. The buzz for 2007 will be all about ‘going colonial’ in Quito’s beautiful and enigmatic heart.
The capital’s most exciting new accommodation offer, whether in the centre or in the north, is the Hotel Plaza Grande. And if it’s location you’re looking for, the hotel can’t be beat: it dominates one corner of the Old Town’s main square, with unparalleled views of the city’s surrounding architectural gems. You can almost shake hands with the President in his palace from its balconies. The Plaza Grande adds exclusivity to location. It’s truly boutique, with a mere 15 suites spread over two floors, all boasting every amenity the world traveller could want, including wireless internet connections, three restaurants, limousine service and spa treatments.
The Plaza Grande comes hot on the heels of two hotels inaugurated in the historic centre in the last 12 months: the Hotel El Relicario del Carmen and the Villa Colonna. El Relicario del Carmen is housed within an early 18-century mansion, boasting plenty of colonial charm and character in its 18 rooms. The Villa Colonna meanwhile, is an intimate and exclusive offering, with only five suites. The attention to detail, whether in the décor or the service, is faultless, with the owners even offering guests use of a mobile phone during their stay.
These three offers join the Hotel Patio Andaluz, the four-star hotel just a block from the main square, which has quickly established itself as an extremely popular choice for travellers wanting to stay near the Old Town action. The Patio Andaluz occupies two glassed-in patios of an old Quito mansion, with 31 rooms including several split into appealing mezzanines.
Hotel Plaza Grande
Address: Calle García Moreno y Chile esquina
Tel: (+593-2) 2567 600
Prices for suites: Royal $550; Plaza View $650; Presidential $2,000. All + taxes.
Press contact: Cristina Chávez, email@example.com
Hotel El Relicario del Carmen
Address: Venezuela 1041 y Olmedo
Tel: (+593-2) 228 9120 / 228 5917
Prices: $70-$90 + taxes
Press contact: Jessica Salvador, firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: Benalcázar 1128 y Esmeraldas
Tel: (593-2) 2955 805
Prices: $150 + taxes (breakfast and welcome cocktail included)
Press contact: Rigoberto Orosco, email@example.com
Hotel Patio Andaluz
Address: Avenida García Moreno N6-52
Tel: (+593-2) 228-0830
Prices: $150-$175 + taxes
Press Contact: Francisco Baca, firstname.lastname@example.org
Quito Visitors’ Bureau
Address: Avenida García Moreno y Mejía
Tel: (+593-2) 295 9505
Press Contact: Dominic Hamilton, email@example.com, Skype: Dominic Hamilton