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Places to stay in Quito

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This is probably not of interest unless you are coming to Ecuador, but I thought it might be useful to give brief review of places we have stayed. Who knows, it might be of use to future travelers. I will update this post whenever we go to a new hotel or hostel, and probably write a similar post for each country we visit. (These are only my opinions: Pallavi may disagree.)

Hotel Boutique Plaza Sucre (~$100): A charming boutique hotel we chose for our first night here, the beautiful aesthetics are slightly let down by the staff. While they are not unfriendly, the are certainly the least helpful group of anyplace that we've stayed. The rooms on the first two floors all surround a quiet, bright courtyard, and the top-floor cafeteria (serving omlettes for breakfast) has a fantastic view of the surrounding hills. Good for a night, but not a great value for a long-term stay.

Sandmelis (~$50): Sandmelis is an inexpensive business hotel very near the airport. We stayed here the night before we flew to Galapagos. The rooms are small and simple, and the bathrooms smell a bit musty. The staff proved to be very helpful, however, and the proximity to the airport makes this a good base if you need to make an early morning flight. The hotel is also only a few blocks away from an all-night pharmacy (useful, for instance, if you forgot to get mosquito repellent before heading to Galapagos) and a very large shopping center.

Radisson (~$115): An upscale business/luxury hotel, the Radisson is not as fancy as the Swissotel across the road, but costs much less. (Notably, the Amarita Spa at the Swissotel offers great packages at prices much lower than you would find in NYC.). Quite cookie cutter in decor, but the bar offers free drinks to guests during happy hour. The hotel is pricier than our regular stops, although we burned a free night to stay here for our anniversary. Overall, the hotel is probably not good for backpackers (we were dressed more roughly than most guests), but might be a good choice for our lawyer friends on business trips to Quito (if the Swissotel is out of reach of the expense account).

Casa Helbling (~$36 for two people, double bed, private bath): By far the best value we've had so far in Quito, you should book early if you would like to stay here, as it's likely that all of their better rooms will be booked up. They offer reasonably-priced rooms with or without private baths, as well as shared dormitories. The showers are warmer and cleaner than Sandmelis, and the bed is comfy enough. I did not find breakfast to be a good value ($5 will buy more food outside the hostel), but everything else is a boon to the budget, and given Helbling's proximity to New Town, there's plenty of places to eat. The other guests vary in age, but tend to be older, some with families, which lends a polite, quiet atmosphere to the place.

(By the way, the English version of the hostel guidebook makes clear that "members of the oldest profession" [1] are not welcome. Insert joke about how two lawyers managed to get a room here.)

The Secret Garden (~$33 for two people, double bed, private bath): Unlike Helbling, The Secret Garden is unashamedly a backpacker's party hostel, complete with sign above the bar offering wine, beer, and "shots off the body of your favourite volunteer" (though, to be fair, I never saw anyone make such an order). All told, we spent about five nights here, and I think it's more pleasant for those who are younger, unmarried, and on a budget. The dorm accommodations looked very nice, and the rooftop bar has a view of the city not to be missed. The Secret Garden only has a single "matrimonial" (double bed) room with an ensuite bath, however, and this room is right beneath the bar. As a result, the foot traffic heading to the roof in the morning to fix breakfast will wake you, and even after the bar closes at 11pm, your will clearly hear the last-minute hookup traffic that stops outside your window. (Hey, if that's your thing, this is just the place for you.) On the other hand, the food is good (and cheap), there is 24 hour hot water (although it is a bit intermittent and not as good as Helbling), and the wireless is strong and, for a hostel, relatively fast.

[1] Interestingly, only the English version is so poetic. The Spanish and German versions just say "sex workers."

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