When we arrived at the Hotel Victoria after our early morning flight from Quito it was only 9.00 am, so we weren’t able to check in but could only register and leave our bags. Our first impressions were favourable – the lobby was attractive and the hotel well located on the southern edge of the colonial part of the city. We went off to explore confident that we had made a good choice.
When we returned some hours later the man on reception, who appeared to be the manager himself at that point, greeted us with the news that he had allocated us a very nice room. He led us a short distance down the corridor to one (#307) on the ground floor, opened the door and all we could see at first was the view! The whole of the opposite wall was window, and because the hotel is situated on the steep river bank, what is the ground floor on the street side, is several stories up on the river side, where we now were. This isn’t so much a room with a balcony as a room on a balcony. The construction of the traditional houses along the river was designed to make the most of the location, with a long balcony on all the main floors that overlooks the water, and the Hotel Victoria, like some others we saw later, has been sympathetically modernised to glass in but not otherwise alter those balconies, creating extra space while maximising the views. The view looks south across the river to the newer part of town, with the viewpoint Mirador de Turi, which we were to visit the next morning, on the middle horizon, and is framed by the tall palm trees that grow in the hotel’s lovely garden a few floors below.
Once we tore our eyes from the view we could see that we had a very nice room indeed. It was of a good size, with ample wardrobe space and a bathroom whose large shower shared the same view. We had a TV (which we never turned on), a large and comfortable bed with crisp white linen, plenty of towels and nice toiletries – everything we needed.
Unique Quality: The view might be said to be the hotel’s best selling point, but it has a lot more going for t besides. It offers free wifi which worked well, and the next day we were to find that the included breakfast was very good, served in the large restaurant, Le Jardin, which as its name suggests overlooks the pretty garden. We sat at a table with a hummingbird visiting the feeder just by our window and enjoyed fresh fruit, papaya juice, a choice of bacon or ham with eggs cooked to order, rolls and much better coffee than we had become used to at our Quito hotel.
Later in the day we went down to explore the garden and enjoyed meeting the resident cats. There are some chairs set out here for guests to relax in, and you can access the hotel directly from the river through this garden, where there is also parking for any guests who arrive by car (something that I imagine is hard to find in colonial Cuenca). All in all, an excellent hotel, offering a peaceful night’s sleep close to all the activity of this beautiful old city – not the cheapest in Cuenca but not the dearest either, and highly recommended if you want to treat yourselves for a few nights! Note though that from the photos on the website and what we saw peering in through the occasional open door, rooms vary a lot – some even better than ours, with balcony and more space, and some less good, with little or no view. I have a feeling that we struck lucky and were upgraded :-)
There are some more photos of the hotel and the views in my travelogue. Next tip: The Coffee Tree
Directions: In The Barranco area of the city, that is, on the banks of the River Tomebamba, three blocks south of the central square, Parque Calderón
I arrived without a reservation at the end of a long and exhausting day (see my Alausi page). The taxi ride from the bus station took five minutes.
The building is a chunky brick edifice which would not look out of place in San Francisco (think Ghirardelli).
My room was most attractive, with a terrace on the river. The 29-room hotel is elegant and very quiet. Although the building is historical (circa 1900, I would guess), the rooms are decorated in a contemporary style, with much polished wood and recessed halogen lights. The concierge Silvia was very helpful throughout my stay. Breakfast is included, and served in the fancy-looking "El Jardin" restaurant downstairs.
The hotel is across the street from the Museum of Aboriginal Cultures, and within easy walking distance of everything of interest in historical Cuenca. However, the immediate neighborhood is a bit dark and empty after sunset.
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Address: Calle Larga 6-93 y Presidente Borrero, Cuenca, Ecuador