We used the Hotel San Francisco as our base for all of our time in Quito –the longer stay of four nights at the start of our trip, a couple of one night stopovers between tours, and a couple of nights right at the end of trip, when we returned from the Galápagos. We slept in three different rooms, of varied quality, during these visits, and found it to be on the whole a pleasant and convenient option if you’re looking for a mid-range hotel in the colonial part of town.
The hotel has lots of character, having been built in the early 18th century and retaining lots of its colonial features. The rooms open onto the terraces that run round the courtyard or onto the corridors that lead off it. They seem to vary considerably, even within the same price category, and although I can’t be sure as we never asked for a specific room, I have a feeling that it’s the luck of the draw whether you get a better or less good room for your money. To be sure of getting plenty of space you could pay for a suite, but note that these are on upper floors and there is no lift. The highest floors are four or five stories, and the stairs are steep. I know because we went up one day to the viewing terrace on the roof of the top floor, which is well worth doing for the great views of the city, but which would be quite a climb with heavy luggage, especially at these altitudes which can leave you breathless in any case!
The first room we had, for our initial four nights (and on one other night too) was unfortunately the least good. This was #22. It had the advantage of being a little tucked away on the second floor and very quiet, although we could hear the distinctive sound of the passing trolley buses. But it was very small and almost monastic in its plainness, with no window, although the skylight lit it pretty well. There was a small en suite with a shower, a wardrobe, wall-mounted TV (we never tried to use this or any other here so I can’t say how well they worked) and a tiny desk. The bed though was very comfortable and we slept well here.
On a later stay, a one night stopover between our Cotapaxi tour and leaving for Cuenca, we were allocated room #21, just down the corridor from the stairss up to our previous one but worlds away in terms of space and character! It had a beautiful vaulted brick ceiling, a large en suite, lots of storage including some antique trunks, and even an in-room Jacuzzi tub! What a shame that we were only here for a few hours though!
The room we had on our final stay, of two nights, fell somewhere between the two. It was one of those opening off the main courtyard, #14, and had a large double bed on a mezzanine floor accessed by a rather narrow spiral staircase. The floor below had a wardrobe and desk, but would have benefitted from the addition of some seating perhaps. The bathroom opened off this floor, so the staircase had to be tackled if you got up in the night – not a major issue for us but some people might prefer to avoid this and the other courtyard rooms for this reason. Neither this room nor #21 had external windows either, although they did have opaque glass opening onto the corridor or terrace for light. This is all part of the design of these old houses, whose rooms for the most part open inwards rather than out onto the street.
Whichever room you sleep in, you will have access to the large communal lounge with two computers for free internet access (there is also free wifi, though we found it patchy in the rooms). Just off the lounge is a walk-in cupboard where they are happy to store baggage for you if you are going off on a trip out of town. We used this when we went on our overnight tours to Papallacta and to Cotapaxi, leaving the bulk of our belongings here, and also stored one bag when we went to Cuenca and the Galápagos.
Breakfast is served in the basement restaurant, located in what was once a prison! You need to collect a voucher from reception on your way downstairs. But you may prefer to skip the breakfast and eat elsewhere, as it’s rather disappointing – weak coffee, watered down juice drink and rolls with jam. The rolls we had were pretty good but the rest very poor. I really couldn’t fathom how, in a country famed for its high-quality coffee and delicious fruit juices, they could make quite such a disastrous attempt at both! You can pay for extra items if you want them, such as bacon and fresh fruit, but we never did so – although had they offered proper coffee on that menu I would have been willing to pay for it perhaps. Instead we either put up with what was offered and topped up on coffee once we went out, or ate outside.
But apart from the disappointing breakfasts I would recommend the hotel, as long as you’re happy to put up with the various quirks of its old colonial structure. You certainly couldn’t be in a much more convenient location in the old town. Three blocks from the Plaza Independencia, four from the Plaza San Francisco, and two from the nightlife, such as it is, of La Ronda. It suited us well, and I would almost certainly stay here again should we ever return to Quito.
Because we stayed in several such different rooms I have put photos of these into a separate travelogue so you can compare them.
Unique Quality: The hotel has a small roof terrace, six floors up (the last one by a staircase so steep it's almost a ladder), from where you can get wonderful views of the city. Do go up to check them out, and take your camera!
Next tip: breakfast at the Cafeteria Modelo
Directions: In the south west part of the old town. The nearest Trolebus stop is Santo Domingo, a block away. Sucre is pedestrian only, apart from deliveries, so a taxi driver will probably drop you on the corner on Guayaquil
Beautiful hotel in the historical center of Quito. Wonderful for solo travelers. Felt safe,very helpful,english speaking staff. Dining room for included breakfast,and other meals overlooks Plaza Santo Domingo.Buffett in the morning is so nice. Carpeted room,no elevator,a good choice for your Quito stay. About $31 a night for a single.
Unique Quality: Liked the location,quiet but close to transportation and restaurants,markets, etc.
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