Avenida Francisco Orellana Manzana 111, Guayaquil, Ecuador
If it's subdued swank you're after, then the Hilton Colón Guayaquil is the right place. It's the largest of the city's five–star offerings—a mini–metropolis—with just about every facility the world traveler might require, all set within a contemporary and smart environment that fulfils its promise of service and luxury.
Situated in Guayaquil's financial and commercial district, the hotel's location is handy for getting to and from the airport or for business, but a handicap for exploring the city's rejuvenated downtown area. It's about a 15–minute taxi ride to the riverfront development, more during rush hours––so sometimes half–an–hour. For the foreign traveler, its location is pretty soulless, and a taxi is required to get anywhere of interest—unless the local, albeit large, shopping mall is one's idea of 'interest'.
In keeping with the city of Guayaquil's 'think big' attitude, the Hilton boasts an impressive entrance: a glassed–in atrium rises 11 stories with exposed elevators running up and down eye–catching vertical lines. It's quite an opener. Off to the left spreads a large lobby of sofas and tables, while the reception lies to the right. Straight ahead, the lobby morphs into the landscaped open pool area at the rear of the property. Nearly all the hotel's facilities are located on this level.
Round to the right from reception, you find the extensive shopping area, including just about all the airline offices servicing the city; some posh boutiques and stores; a minimalist sushi restaurant and a smart café–deli; and a beauty salon. Adjacent to the palms and tropical plants of the swimming pool area lies the Vereda Tropical restaurant, which serves grilled fish, seafood and meats. The ambiance is light and breezy, with the option of eating inside, or on a balcony giving onto the open area.
Continuing round to the left comes the hotel's most expensive restaurant, Portofino, a symphony to sober wood–paneling and Italianate decorative touches, and serving some of the city's best seafood. The hotel's bar, Atrium, is open to the lobby with a low ceiling and subdued lighting and seating washed in dark purples and browns with a large bar from which to people watch from the perch of a comfortable stool. Down a corridor to the far left you have the Café Colón which, like its counterpart at the Hilton in Quito, is an institution in the city—popular with ladies for coffee–and–cakes chats and for big, long family meals. It's a light, busily–appointed space, and very relaxed.
Revamped and refreshed on a regular basis, the Hilton shows its class in its rooms, of every category. Out went the florals last time around and furnishings are subdued and contemporary. The standard rooms come with all the usual Hilton accoutrements, including large TVs, voicemail phones, coffee makers, broadband internet (extra charge), and a bath with separate shower stall. Oddly here, you need to go up a room class to get an iron and ironing board. The rooms are very spacious, with ample room for an armchair and an adequate desk.
The executive levels occupy the top floors of the hotel, with impressive views from their heights. The two levels emanate a quiet, sophisticated ambience and are undeniably the best in the city. There's an executive lounge for breakfast meals, happy hour bar and relaxing sink–in leather sofa, all complete with contemporary art on the walls and faultless service. Executive suites are superb, boasting huge bedrooms, separate lounge areas with large sofas, dining tables for six, 42" flat–screen TVs, big desks, and private balconies large enough for a table and four chairs.
Unfortunately, only the executive floors get Wi-Fi included in the rates, though on the plus side parking is free for those who are driving. The hotel has a decent gym on the second floor with an array of machines and ample sauna, Turkish bath and Jacuzzi facilities.
For amenities, such as the large pool, and for the size of the rooms, the Hilton Colón Guayaquil beats the Oro Verde. Service is excellent and the hotel enjoys an excellent reputation. The toss–up would be whether you want to be closer to the action and flavor of the city, or are happy with the mini–city offered by the hotel itself.
Web Address: www.hiltonguayaquil.com
Total Number of Rooms: 294
Published rates: $149 to $1,200
Review by Dominic Hamilton, photos courtesy of Hilton Colón Guayaquil.