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Shopping in Quito

Many people come to Quito with artisanal goods on their shopping list. Handmade crafts are in excellent supply, much of it produced locally, and they can be bought at bargain prices from the market. For more modern shopping, head to the modern Mariscal district.

Key areas

The main shopping district of Quito is in Mariscal, the new town area. You'll find just about everything in this bustling, modern district with plenty of designer-brand shops and boutiques.

Buy high-quality items in specialised shops, such as Olga Fisch Folclore on Colón E10-53, a local institution, set by a Hungarian Jewish artist who fled Europe on the eve of WWII. Another great shop for handmade crafts is Tianguez, located on the same premises as the namesake café.

Many art galleries sell paintings by modern Ecuadorean artists. Galeria Beltran at Reina Victoria 326 and Galeria Catasse on Avenida 6 de Diciembre y Checoslovaquia are among the most renowned.

Markets

Look for bargains at one of many markets, such as Mercado Artesanal La Mariscal on Jorge Washington between Reina Victoria and Juan León Mera. The place is swamped with colourful knitwear, woven bags, rugs, jewellery and trinkets.

Shopping centres

It's hard to argue that there is anything remotely Ecuadorean about Quicentro on Inaquito, but homesick Westerners can head to this gigantic mall which houses all the usual global brands. Prices are undiminished, so don't expect any bargains. There's a large food court on the top floor.

Opening hours

Shops tend to be open early until late, usually 0900-2200, with some smaller establishments closing for lunch.

Souvenirs

Whether you're after a panpipe, a llama key ring or small ceramics, Quito's historical centre is full of shops selling souvenirs. Galería Latina is a safe bet for woodcarvings, jewellery and clothing.

Tax information

The value-added tax, known as IVA, on most goods in Ecuador is 12%. Tax free shopping is available in the city for purchases over $50, but the goods must have been made in Ecuador. Look out for the 'Tax Free' stickers in shop windows. Refunds should be claimed at the airport.

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Hilton Colón Quito

Close to the historical district and Quito's airport, Hilton Colón Quito is a large compound, complete with the excellent Italian Portofino restaurant and a sushi bar. The main 19-storey tower overlooks Edijo Park and the Old Town. Large rooms have all the expected amenities. The hotel also boasts a fitness centre, a spa with Turkish bath and sauna, and an outdoor heated pool.

Swissôtel Quito

Set dramatically on top of the cliff overlooking the picturesque Guaopolo valley, this hotel offers luxurious rooms as well as apartments for a prolonged stay, complete with all amenities one might expect from a high-class business hotel. It has six restaurants specializing in Swiss, French, Japanese and other international cuisines. The Amrita Spa centre boasts a gym and two pools - indoors and outdoors.

Hostal de La Rábida

Everything is white in this friendly Italian-run, middle-range hotel: the mansion house which it occupies, the rooms and the rabbit that lives in the little garden into which rooms open - hence the name. There is a cosy little restaurant serving Italian and Ecuadorean meals. Wireless Internet is available.

Hotel La Cartuja

This mansion house with a large green patio occupies the site of the former British Embassy. The US and French embassies are both next door. Rooms are spacious, with comfy beds. The kind if somewhat hectic service creates a homey feel. Laundry service and Internet are available.

Hostal El Taxo

This no-frills guesthouse offers a range of private rooms and shared dorms, most with shared bath. Everything is a bit ramshackle, but the atmosphere is great and it attracts a cool crowd of hip young travellers. Breakfast is not included.

The Secret Garden

One of very few accommodation options in the historical centre, this small Australian/Ecuadorian-run hostel is of outstanding value. Full of plants and flowers (hummingbirds feeding on the nectar), it is decorated with murals - the creation of visiting artists from all around the world. The terrace on the fifth floor overlooking the colonial district is unbeatable for a late-afternoon beer.