García Moreno N5–16 y Chile (Plaza de la Independencia), Quito, Ecuador
Competing with the newer Casa Gangotena as the top 5-star luxury hotel in Ecuador, Plaza Grande sits on Quito's main plaza and is awash in roses and upscale touches throughout.
Located slap?bang on the capital's main square, Plaza Grande, you can almost shake hands with the President from the Plaza Grande hotel's balconies and the building is a landmark in itself. It is exclusive, elegant and even decadent throughout. And truly boutique: there are 15 suites in all, divided into Plaza View and Royal, with one Presidential Suite (and the presidential price tag to match).
Plaza Grande is housed within the shell of the former Hotel Majestic, the capital's flagship offering for nearly half a century. The new owners gutted it entirely and replaced it with this top–of–the–line offering, which includes three restaurants, function room, small spa and gym, wireless internet, and limousine service. The faultless service is another added bonus: they bend over backwards to please and with only 15 suites, personal service is a given.
The entrance could be grander, but it is sumptuous inside. The ground floor is occupied by reception and the hotel's restaurant–café serving international and Ecuadorian favorites, which would have benefited from a terrace with outside tables. It's a popular power lunch spot for officials and business owners, but also a deservedly popular restaurant for tourists, with local dishes taken up a few notches in refinement and strolling musicians adding a festive air.
The suites themselves are spread over the second and third floors. They are all luxurious and spacious, boasting rich furnishings, original works of art, repro colonial armoires, mirrors, closets and desks, and plenty of drapery to give that old world feel. The social areas have large, comfortable sofas and armchairs, while the sizable bedrooms come with huge beds embellished with Egyptian cotton sheets and fluffed up goose?down pillows. This country being one of the largest exporters of roses, Plaza Grande makes liberal use of them. During my last stay I had two dozen in the sitting area, more in the bathroom, one tucked into my robe, and petals around the bathtub.
The bathrooms, too, are truly spacious, with Jacuzzi?shower combination tubs, ample toiletries, luxury robes and slippers, and a great touch—under floor heating for those cold morning tootsies. Other nice touches go from pleasant to practical. The former would include a quill pen and fine stationary in a wooden box, a note from the manager, and a nice tray of interesting edibles on arrival. The latter would include a small refrigerator and a separate router in each room for the complimentary Wi-Fi.
The Plaza View suites justify their higher price tag with more ample bathrooms, containing handsome marble and wood washbasins and balconies with views of the main square below or Garc?a Moreno street. Three of these (24, 25 and 34) occupy the corner positions, thus giving you the best of both worlds. All the rooms are individually air–conditioned and come with a long list of amenities including 42" flat–screen TVs and fine toiletries.
The second floor is taken up with the hotel's flagship La Belle époque restaurant serving French and international dishes with flair, amid an art–nouveau inspired décor which is extremely pleasing. Again, the service here is faultless, and the wine list extensive. In fact, the restaurant's wine list is only outdone by the 'cave á vin' El Claustro wine bar housed in the basement, which boasts no less than 1,500 bottles on offer. It's attractively lit with exposed brick and a subdued feel great for conversation.
For Belle Epoque it would be a shame not to book a window table in advance to enjoy some people watching between courses. Finally, the gracious function room on the top floor is worth a peek, but is best appreciated for its champagne bar and cognac bar, housed in its two lateral towers. These have a terrace between them, which, in the evening amid the floodlit church towers and steeples, has to be one of the world's most romantic and captivating places for champagne aperitif or a post–Brandy cigar.
The hotel has been the centerpiece of a dramatic old city revival. For upscale leisure travelers with no budget constraints, the choice is between larger Casa Gangotena a few blocks away and this more intimate boutique hotel right in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage city center. It's a close call between the two and you won't be disappointed at either, but Plaza Grande is slightly more formal, more intimate, and has a stronger Wi-Fi signal in the rooms if that?s important to you.
Web Address: www.plazagrandequito.com
Total Number of Rooms: 15
Published rates: $366 to $2,684 including breakfast, taxes, and service charge
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.