From the unique Galapagos Islands to the iconic snow-capped peak of Cotopaxi. And from the relaxed beach vibes on the coast to the adrenaline-inducing anacondas and tarantulas in the Amazon jungle. Ecuador has it all. Colonial Quito will probably be your transit city or base city Ecuador. The city has its own attractions, but is also a busy town. So where to find a romantic getaway close to Quito? To start or finish off your travel in full relaxation? Read my travel story below or go straight to my tip for a unique accommodation close to Quito. In a cave!
Comfort and romance in Ecuador
Personally, I was in desperate need of some warmth and cosiness after spending three rainy days in Cuyabeno, on Ecuador’s side of the Amazon jungle. I was in need of a hotel that is a destination on its own, a true escape from the on-the-go life of a traveller. And so we swapped our basic jungle hut for the comfort and romance of Hacienda las Cuevas.
Quito and the countryside
Leaving bustling Quito behind is a challenge even now that we are picked-up by a local who knows his way through the crazy traffic. Once we exit the city, the atmosphere on the road becomes more relaxed. We leave the tarmac to enter the countryside. A bumpy unpaved road leads us past small villages and into the hills. Here, the sounds that reach us through the open windows are no longer those of honking cars. Instead, we hear birdsong and the occasional bark of a dog and moo of a cow. The smell of polluting exhaust fumes is replaced by that of aromatic trees and freshly mowed grass.
A fairy tale accommodation
A long line of trees on both sides of a cobble stone driveway anticipates another world at the end of it. And it does. Hacienda Las Cuevas looks like the décor of a fairy tale. Bright green grass covers the site, a flower-lined pond accommodates leisurely floating ducks. The reflection of its water shows the attractive features of the hacienda. As the name suggests, the hotel is built into a gigantic rock. The natural stone walls, its soft shapes and the wooden hatches give it an inviting look. A look that reminds me of the film set of The Hobbit’s cosy Shire.
I immediately unwind. Anyone would in a place like this. Except perhaps the engineer Álvaro Bustamante who originally chiselled his (basic) home out of the rock that is now transformed into a hotel.
Although we came to this heaven of peace and quiet to relax, we are tempted by all the activities are on offer. After settling into our room – a cosy decorated cave – we are ready to explore the surroundings. From the back of a horse we enjoy views of the valley and Quito in the distance. We step through fields with wild flowers and pay a short visit to a rose plantation on the way.
As we get back on our horses, rain starts to drizzle. By the time we enter the forest the skies start to rumble and rain comes pouring down on us. We pet our horses to reassure them in these weather conditions. All the while bending over to avoid banging our heads against low hanging branches.
We return a tad less relaxed then we had anticipated, but we are warmly welcomed back on the doorstep with hot towels by our host Joaquín Ponce.
Caves of indulgence
And then there is the jacuzzi waiting for us. Inside a cave, you guessed it.
In the cove next to it, local cheeses mature in the perfect temperature and humidity conditions. Although the sight of the moulded cheeses is not that appealing, the taste is all the better. Especially when enjoyed with wine. Chef Isabela Vela explains us how to best combine cheeses and wines and, even better, lets us taste it for ourselves. A lovely and delicious start of the evening followed by a three course dinner, more wine and then tea in front of the fireplace.
Blue skies and sunshine greet us the next morning and so we set out for a hike in the nearby forest. Joaquín joins us and we definitely need his guidance. The trail is kept as natural as possible and this means one has to know its way through the tree branches. It is a fun walk taking in a cave (a real, natural one) and two waterfalls. The views of the lush green valley are wonderful, and a lovely last impression of Ecuador. A country whose cities are enjoyable, but whose nature is memorable.
Up for a romantic getaway close to Quito?
How to make a booking for Hacienda Las Cuevas?
A reservation through firstname.lastname@example.org is required.
How do I get to Hacienda Las Cuevas?
The drive to the hotel is a bumpy one so you want to have a suitable vehicle (you don’t need a 4×4 but I’m not sure if you will enjoy driving up with an economy rental car). The road is unlit, so for safety reasons I highly recommend not to drive there yourself at night. The hotel can arrange a pick-up from the airport or from Quito for you for $25. The drive is 20 minutes from the airports and half an hour from Quito’s city centre.
What should I bring with me to Hacienda Las Cuevas?
If you want to get active, make sure to bring along comfortable, long pants for horsebackriding, and sturdy boots for hiking.
If you want to relax, bring along a good book to read by the fireplace.
Disclosure: my stay at Hacienda Las Cuevas was sponsored. This story is a reflection of my personal, honest opinion about this special accommodation.