Quito, the capital of Ecuador, is a bustling historic city that flies under the radar of many travel magazines. The city sits at 2,850 m (9,350 ft) elevation and is the second-highest capital city in the world. Beyond its altitude, Quito is a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site and the closest capital city to the equator.
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This beautiful, underrated city is home to the best-preserved historic centre in Latin America set in the shadows of the Andes Mountains. But the city offers so much more than beautiful scenery. From a medley of architecture and art, gastronomic discoveries and craft creations to green spaces, there is no shortage of fascinating finds in Quito.
We first travelled to Quito back in 2017, on our first visit to Ecuador and returned again in 2022 to spend a lot more time exploring this underrated destination. We spent weeks lingering around the city, exploring many of its neighbourhoods and areas.
But our most memorable stay was the time spent in Casa Gangotena, a beautiful historic boutique hotel located in the heart of the city. Casa Gangotena is a Relais & Châteaux hotel, an association established in 1954, consisting of 580 unique hotels and restaurants throughout the world, but that is only one of the small nods of recognition that has carried this hotel through the last decade of operations.
About Casa Gangotena Hotel in Quito, Ecuador
Casa Gangotena is a historic boutique hotel that oozes elegance and charm. The hotel is in Quito’s historical center, less than one hour away from Mariscal Sucre International Airport. The three-story mansion is perched above Plaza San Francisco, one of the most historically significant squares in the city. The hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of all the churches and plazas of Old Town Quito.
We found the history of Casa Gangotena to be particularly fascinating!
History of Casa Gangotena
The stunning historic building of Casa Gangotena has been a fixture in Old Town Quito for centuries. It originally belonged to one of Quito’s wealthiest families, the Gangotena Family, whose lineage and history have been carried on for generations. The Gangotenas had rebuilt the house entirely in 1880, converting it into a neo-colonial mansion used as their family home and residence. The property tragically burned down in 1914 but was reconstructed in 1918 by Italian architects.
In the mid 1950’s, Quito’s accelerated development led to an abandonment of the Historic Centre and a mass exit of aristocratic families that used to proudly reside in the Historic Centre. As a result, Casa Gangotena, along with many other buildings in the Old Town suffered significant deterioration. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that a group of Ecuadorian businessmen led by former City Mayor, Roque Sevilla, acquired the property from the heirs of the Gangotena family and restored it to its current state. The boutique hotel opened its doors in 2011 and has been receiving glowing guest reviews as well as local and international awards and recognitions ever since.
Today, the beautiful hotel blends historic charm with contemporary design in its rooms and common areas. The property showcases a number of Art Nouveau and Art Deco elements from the original Casa Gangotena mansion including the carefully restored painted ceilings, oil paintings, wooden paneling, mirrors, murals and more!
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Sustainability at Casa Gangotena
Casa Gangotena is committed to offering a more sustainable stay to visitors of Quito. The hotel has no single-use plastics throughout the property and has an elaborate recycling program. Casa Gangotena also employs a solar panel system for hot water heating throughout the hotel.
The property is committed to sourcing local produce, so much so that the majority of food at the restaurant comes from a 6-block radius. Casa Gangotena is also focused on preserving and building up the local community in Quito, Ecuador. They are involved in several neighbourhood programs and community initiatives, including Heritage Guardians. This program promotes the value of heritage and connects tourists with locals seeking a more authentic trip.
The Rooms at Casa Gangotena
Each of Casa Gangotena’s 27 rooms celebrates the charm and elegance of the historic mansion. Rooms are spacious, with tall decorative ceilings and big windows.
There are six different room types offering garden views or views of San Francisco plaza.
- Luxury and Luxury Plus rooms are adorned with soft linens, plush carpets, and Art Nouveau decor.
- Suites and Plaza View Rooms are flooded with natural light, with spectacular views and all the comforts of a 5-star hotel. You may be in a historic mansion but that doesn’t mean you won’t have air conditioning and a flat-screen TV!
- Balcony Junior Suite feature double doors that open up to picturesque views of the gardens and offer a glimpse of the Virgin of Quito.
- Junior Suite is the most special of all rooms in Casa Gangotena. This room was once a tea room for the Gangotena family. It overlooks the garden and has a fully restored mural wrapping the entire room.
We were lucky enough to be upgraded to the Junior Suite for our stay at Casa Gangotena and were blown away by its beautiful decor and ambiance. The mural on the walls served as a daily reminder of the historical importance of this part of the hotel and made our stay here ever so special. The room was well equipped with all the modern amenities, like a smart TV, a well-stocked tea/coffee station, and even masks and hand sanitizers provided as a part of Casa Gangotena’s focus on enhanced health measures.
All rooms and suites at Casa Gangotena feature private en-suite bathrooms, most have separate bathtubs and showers. The marble interior of our bathroom certainly added to the elegant decor and luxury feel of the room.
Facilities & Amenities at Casa Gangotena
The elegant and sophisticated vibe at Casa Gangotena is carried all through the entire property. We felt it while checking in at reception, where the giant chandelier and a stunning piece of art reminded us of the historic significance of this unique Ecuador hotel. We felt it in the grand sitting hall, where the unmissable giant bouquet of fresh roses reminded us that the carefully manicured outdoor gardens were a mere steps away.
The rooftop terrace offered sweeping views over Quito. It was a popular spot for afternoon cocktails, but we snuck out there every chance we could get. Nothing beats a morning tea overlooking the historical city centre.
After sunset, the onsite bar is the place to be. Its old-school charm and intimate setting make for a great spot to begin the perfect evening or to wind down after a busy day. The exquisite cocktails include the unique take on the local specialty – Canelazo that we had on our first night.
There is also a spa on-site at Casa Gangotena. We didn’t get a chance to experience it firsthand during our short stay but learned that it offers typical salon services and massage treatments.
Food & Drink at Casa Gangotena
At Casa Gangotena, the restaurant is not an afterthought. In fact, quite the opposite – it is an institution in town, ranking as one of the best restaurants in Quito.
Casa Gangotena’s restaurant invites guests to discover the true flavours of Ecuador. The restaurant serves breakfast, lunch, high tea, and dinner designed around cocina mestiza. This concept celebrates Ecuador’s diverse cuisine by marrying traditional dishes with modern techniques and local ingredients.
The menu at Casa Gangotena offers 7-course tasting menus, with or without a wine pairing, or an à la carte selection. The menu also has several vegan and vegetarian options available to choose from. Featuring ceviches, salads, and a host of handcrafted specialty dishes, like Pork Bondiola and Pangora Crab, the restaurant is worth a visit even if you are not staying at Casa Gangotena.
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Activities at Casa Gangotena
Casa Gangotena offers many activities exclusive to hotel guests. All of these experiences are complementary and are led by a local guide and offer an opportunity to further explore the history and charm of Casa Gangotena, Quito.
Cooking and Ceviche Making Class
On Mondays, guests can dive into Ecuadorian cuisine and its traditions with the hotel’s head chef. You’ll even have the chance to make one of the most famous dishes in Ecuador, ceviche de camarón, or shrimp ceviche. And don’t fret if you’re vegetarian, the shrimp can be substituted with a heart of palm.
We joined this activity during our stay and loved Gangotena’s unique recipe of the typical Ecuador ceviche. We opted to make the vegan version fo the ceviche, something we hadn’t done before. The taste was divine!
Behind the Scenes History of Casa Gangotena Tour
With centuries of history woven into the walls of Casa Gangotena, a hotel tour is a great way to learn about its former glory. Although typically, this hotel tour runs on Tuesdays, we were able to get a private tour upon arrival. The tour dove into the history of Casa Gangotena and shed light on the Gangotena family that called this mansion home back in Quito’s earlier days. We found the stories about the hotel’s respiration projects to be incredibly insightful. It made us appreciate what went into transforming the mansion into the lovely boutique hotel it is today.
Rooftop Terrace Tour
Rooftop terrace tours run on Wednesdays and Sundays and start at 6 PM. They allow guests to soak in panoramic views of Quito Old Town with all of its churches, squares, and bustling restaurants. It’s a great tour for those who are short of time but want to learn more about the Historical Center of Quito. From the rooftop, you’ll learn about the history of the Old Town, understand more about its geography, and get a feel for some main sights worth visiting in the city.
Did you know that Ecuador has some of the best chocolate in the world? A chocolate tasting at Casa Gangotena is the perfect way to sample chocolate from the region and try the unique Quito-style hot chocolate. Chocolate tastings are available on Thursday evenings and make for an excellent pre-dinner treat!
Quito Like a Local Walking Tour
Our favourite tour at Casa Gangotena was the “Quito Like a Local” Tour. We joined Metropolitan Touring Guide, Lourdes, and Miguel, a guide from a grassroots NGO organization, called San Roque.
Together we spent the morning, walking around the Old Town, learning more about the people who live in this large and best-restored historical center in the Americas. We stopped to meet artisans, shopkeepers, hat makers, flour millers and sweet confectioners. We also visited the San Francisco Market, one of the oldest in the capital. Here, we learned all about the fruit and vegetables produced in Ecuador and got an insight into other culinary and medicinal traditions in Ecuador.
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The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a beautiful boutique hotel in Quito, Ecuador, Casa Gangotena Boutique Hotel deserves a spot on your list. Its rich history, paired with an incredible location, amazing food and fantastic activities make it one of the best hotels in Quito. And certainly, our favourite!
Have you ever travelled to Quito, Ecuador? Did you explore the Old Town surrounding Casa Gangotena?
Disclaimer: Our stay at Casa Gangotena was provided courtesy of Metropolitan Touring, the parent company behind Casa Gangotena, but, as always, all opinions expressed in this article are our own.