Where to stay in Ecuador
There are plenty of accommodation options in Ecuador, with something to suit every taste and budget. Make sure to take a look at a room though and check out facilities before booking in to ensure that you are happy with them – if things aren’t to your taste don’t be afraid to ask for a better or bigger room, or to bargain politely for a better rate. Large cities boast upscale hotels and international chains as well as independent boutique options and family-run establishments. Luxury and eco-lodges can be found in the jungle.
The cheapest and shabbiest accommodation is usually adjacent to the bus station or main market, with better standards of accommodation usually found around the main plaza. Air conditioning is only really relevant on the coast or in the Oriente, whilst fans will suffice elsewhere; rooms with the service will cost around a third more. Conversely hot water is most important in the highlands. Better hotels have their own restaurants whilst cheaper and smaller places tend not to offer any sort of catering. During high season and over festivals such as New Year, carnival and Easter places to stay may get quickly booked up so plan your overnights carefully.
Hotel rooms should be booked at least one week in advance. Outside the main towns, a more or less standard price is charged per person for one night in a pensión, residencial or hotel. There is, however, a minimum charge per person. A 10% service charge and 5% tax are added to upper- and middle-range hotel bills. Cheaper hotels usually charge 5% at the most. There is also a range of accommodation on the Galapagos Islands. Booking hotels during fiestas and festivals can be difficult. Visitors should book well in advance.
Grading: Hotels in Ecuador have been graded into three main categories according to standard and price bracket; complicated and often not used in practice, the terms have come to be loosely applied. A hotel is a generic establishment; a hostal or posada is an elegant inn, whilst pensions, residencials and hospedajes are more modest options. All categories provide at least basic facilities. Boutique is a buzzword applied rather randomly to new ventures and eco-lodges ought to be jungle retreats but again, the name isn’t always attached to a place matching the description.
Camping facilities in Ecuador are very limited, although it is allowed in most parks and reserves, and some hotels may offer cheap rates for camping in their grounds. Camping is prohibited on the Galápagos Islands except in one of the designated campsites, or sometimes in a pension garden. A permit is required and can be obtained from the park offices.
Attractive colonial haciendas make unique places to stay. Formed shortly after the Spanish conquest these historic, ancestral properties are comfortable and pleasant places to stay. More modern versions are attached to working farms and feature activities such as horse riding and cattle round ups.
Homestays: Stay with a local family either for a night or for much longer in order to see how daily life unfolds and to practice your Spanish. Many families are genuinely keen on sharing rather than simply providing room and board, meaning that you come away with a different impression of the country and its people.