Av. Amazonas and Av. Patria, Quito, Ecuador
Mansion Alcazar is a boutique hotel in the midst of Cuenca's historical center. The best hotel in this vibrant college town serves up gourmet cuisine, elegant suites, ubiquitous flower bouquets and personalized attention.
Quito’s original business hotel sits in a prime location between old and new Quito and now has some of the most attractive guest rooms in the city. With great views and a polished staff, it manages to pull in a fair number of wealthy leisure travelers in addition to its steady business clientele.
Originally built as the Hotel Colón in 1968, this Hilton continues to improve its operations while competitors retrench, allowing it to leapfrog past many rivals in recent years. The largest tower of rooms exhibits the standard staid Hilton business décor, but has been updated with large flat-screen TVs and MP3 docks. Another tower has been completely transformed, however, with 86 rooms converted to 42 large suites featuring contemporary décor and bolder colors. (A third contains extended stay apartments with kitchens.)
One of this Quito Hilton’s main selling points is its location. In a narrow valley city where traffic can be a nightmare, this hotel is an easy hop to tourist sites in the old colonial part of the city, to offices in the modern section, and to roads leading out of the city to other attractions. It looks out on an adjoining park, skyscrapers, and mountains, with almost any upper floor having a great view.
The main restaurant is a coffee shop open for all meals, with attractive buffet presentations and prices to match. A more formal but contemporary dinner restaurant and a small sushi bar off the lounge are the other options, with plenty of local restaurants within walking distance or a short cab ride to the city’s main nightlife district. Guests can also order meals to be taken along on excursions outside the city. The lounge is really too small for a hotel of this size, but club floor guest and those in the La Pinta tower have their own hip bar and long complimentary happy hour each evening. Table stakes start at just $2 in the smoky ground-floor casino and a deli/bakery with Wi-Fi is attached to the building just outside the entrance.
The spa and fitness center here—free to guests—are like a full-fledged health club. An excellent gym has new equipment, free weights, an aerobics room with classes, and a personal trainer. The male and female locker rooms have saunas, steam rooms, and whirlpools. Each leads to a sizable square heated outdoor pool and whirlpool.
The rooms of choice here are the 42 suites in the renovated La Pinta tower—the smallest being more than 600 square feet. These are in many respects the swankiest digs in town, with polished bamboo floors, sleek furniture, plush bedding, sliding panel doors between living and sleeping areas, and two spacious granite baths—one with a double vanity, Jacuzzi tub, and separate shower stall. Two large flat-screen TVs have DVD/CD players and desks have ergonomic Herman Miller chairs.
For those who prefer a more traditional look and the best views, floors 14 to 18 of the tallest tower are club floor rooms and suites. They have similar bedding and gadgets to those in the La Pinta tower, but it would be understandable if you woke up in one and thought you were in Cleveland. Suites are double the size of regular rooms and all have standard Hilton amenities such as Cuisinart coffee makers with real mugs. Minibars require the request of a key at check-in.
Standard rooms are satisfactory, but are clearly lower on the pecking order: they do not have robes or slippers and do not receive a newspaper. The club floors upgrade is clearly worth it here, coming with a good breakfast, snacks all day, happy hour, complimentary Wi-Fi, and travel assistance.
A complimentary van shuttles guests to the airport on a fixed schedule, 24-hour room service is standard, Wi-Fi runs throughout (with a charge for regular guests), and the fire systems are up to U.S. codes. While the “multilingual staff” is a stretch once you get past the front desk crew and club lounge assistants, service is generally up to international expectations.
Web Address: www.quito.hilton.com
Total Number of Rooms: 255 (+ 24 extended stay apartments)
Rates: $179 to $1,275
Review and photos by Timothy Scott