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“Worth a visit to explore and have a meal” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of Hacienda Guachala

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Hacienda Guachala
Ranked #50 of 249 Specialty Lodging in Quito
Otavalo, Ecuador
Level Contributor
130 reviews
15 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 81 helpful votes
“Worth a visit to explore and have a meal”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed February 17, 2012

We have never stayed overnight at Guachala but we have visited many times with friends, for a quick walk around and for longer visits with lunch. This authentic -- not glitzed up or hyped up -- hacienda is full of history, and is well worth a stop on the way to or from Quito from Otavalo or points north. You must be on the Cayambe fork of the Panamerican to get there and it is very close to the wonderful Quitsato Equatorial monument and project, which is, in our opinion, a must for travelers. The old buildings and grounds of the hacienda are fascinating and there are interesting old photos all around. TravellinDocs review here is spot on in its description of the grounds, and you do feel a part of history when you visit. You should consider a meal there, but the service is beyond slow, and the food is only OK, when it finally gets there. It might taste better than OK because you will be hungry by then. But in the meantime, you can wander around to your hearts content, so a good idea might be to order your food and drinks first and tell them you will be walking around until the food arrives. Next time we visit, we plan to do just that.

  • Stayed February 2012, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank pachamamacita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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40 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveler tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (12)
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Atlanta, Georgia
Level Contributor
82 reviews
27 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 69 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed April 13, 2011

If you want to experience some relaxing time at an authentic Ecuadorean hacienda without paying very much, then Hacienda Guachala is a perfect choice. A friend and I stayed here for two nights mid-week in March 2011 before spending a weekend in Otavalo. Even if you don’t have time to stay for a night or two, I would highly recommend stopping here for a couple hours to enjoy lunch and just walk through the beautiful grounds and admire the history of this place. Hacienda Guachala is about one mile off the Panamerican highway on a paved road about twenty minutes south of Otavalo and a bit more than an hour north of Quito. It’s a perfect stopping place on a trip between Quito and Otavalo. The Hacienda is also about 5 minutes south of the equator and the Quitsato Project Solar Clock/Calendar (which is definitely worth stopping for) and about 10 minutes south of the city of Cayambe (not much for tourists to see in Cayambe).

The hacienda’s grounds are simply gorgeous with beautiful flowers, trees and bushes. The old buildings and courtyard make it authentically feel like you’ve gone back in time. It is very relaxing surroundings compared to the noise and hustle of Quito.

Lodging prices are a terrific bargain. We had a room with three twin size beds for $40. My bed was comfortable, but my friend complained about his mattress. The beds are rustic wooden tree branch frame beds with thin mattresses and lots of wool blankets on them. It gets very cool here at night so bring a warm jacket. The rooms do not have heat, AC or a fan. However they do have fireplaces. We decided not to bother setting a fire although the fireplace was obviously well used and the room had a definite smoky odor from smoke that has permeated into the painted walls and room furnishings. People with respiratory issues may not want to stay here. The room was large with high ceilings. The bathroom was somewhat cramped and dated, but clean. Larger people may feel very awkward and confined in the small shower stall.

The food was a highlight. We ate all our meals (2 lunches, 2 dinners and 2 breakfasts) at the Hacienda. There is ample variety on the menu and the prices were a really great bargain. The menu is in both English and Spanish so placing your order with the Spanish-only speaking wait staff is not too challenging. It’s very fortunate that the food here is exceptional because there are no other options for getting a meal without asking for a taxi to come and take you somewhere. I saw a few restaurants on the Pan American highway about a mile walk from the Hacienda, but nothing that looked worthy of venturing to. There is a small town closer to the Hacienda if heading away from the Pan American highway, but I didn’t walk fully in to explore what might be there.

The nearby town of Cayambe is famous for its dairy products and for "bizcochos", a type of rich, buttery biscuit. The women in the kitchen at Guachala baked fresh bizcochos on both days we were there. In addition to giving us a sample fresh out of the oven, we had a basket full of them with each meal. I don’t want to think about how many calories I consumed in the less than 48 hours we spent there!!! At breakfast they served fresh yogurt and real butter and fresh made jams. Their food was truly exceptional.

All the staff we encountered at Hacienda Guachala were exceptionally friendly. My Spanish is very limited so we did encounter language challenges when we first arrived. The woman working the front office did not speak English and was asking me questions that were beyond what my Spanish travel phrase book could handle for translation. Nevertheless, she showed us to our room and we were set.

I had made reservations several weeks in advance from the US via e-mail. I was concerned over the lack of responsive communication I received back from them, even when I sent some e-mails in Spanish. They responded that they had availability, but never really confirmed that I had a reservation. My frustration was at a point of almost giving up and reserving a room elsewhere. When we arrived in Quito several nights before we were to go to the hacienda, I had the concierge at our Quito hotel call the hacienda just to confirm that they still had a room for us. They told him everything was set and so I felt better then. As it turned out, there were very few other guests staying there those nights and we practically had the entire place to ourselves.

The hacienda has a beautiful library, although the older books are kept locked behind glass doors. There is a pool table for use by the guests in the library along with a few ancient computers. We eventually had success getting an internet connection but don’t expect too much from those computers. The library also had a small TV with satellite that allowed us to watch CNN and Fox News in English. The hacienda also has a pool enclosed in a green house filled with beautiful flowers. It was very relaxing and pleasantly warmer just sitting by the pool under the enclosure.

One particular reason I wanted to stay at Hacienda Guachala was in hope of being able to see Mount Cayambe. Sadly, the peak was covered in clouds for the entire 2 days we were there. Even during clearer times you would have to venture away from the hacienda to get an unobstructed view looking east to Mount Cayambe.

I would certainly recommend staying at Hacienda Guachala, however, if I could redo my vacation I would have stayed for one night rather than two.

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  • Stayed March 2011, traveled with friends
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
3 Thank TravellinDocs
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New York City
Level Contributor
33 reviews
30 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed December 20, 2010

My room and the grounds of this hacienda were stunning. It's like a parador in Spain - a historic property renovated into a small hotel. It was cool exploring the chapel, the courtyard and the outbuildings of the hacienda. Our room was spacious, with rustic furniture and an painting of the Virgin in a niche above the bedroom. It's not luxurious, but ever so evocative of another time.
The quirky part: It's very cold in the area, colder than surrounding parts because of weather patterns caused by the Cayambe volcano. It rained all afternoon and night the days I was there, making things very damp and chilly. The wood in the fireplace was dry enough to catch fire the first night - not so the second. Fortunately, there are thick blankets on the beds.
Dinner was at a set time, though you could duck into the kitchen and ask a staffer for drinks anytime. The food was very good and all cooked freshly to order, from delicious empanadas to steaks and trout. Not as cheap as some places in Ecuador, but a good deal considering its quality.
A 4WD excursion to the refuge on Cayambe with the hotel's expert driver Bolívar was terrific, with amazing and changing scenery the whole way. The town of Cayambe made for a diverting afternoon - it's pretty untouristed and has the necessary services (including two enormous grocery stores and $1 manicures!), plus lots of places selling bizcochos and delicious dulce de leche.
Horseback riding at the hacienda got mixed reviews. Nice horses, but a dispute with locals meant the horses couldn't cross the nearby stream and had to head uphill behind the hacienda instead. Walks (on foot) up and down the road by the hacienda were fun and relaxing - there's a very small town less than 10 minutes up the road if you need sodas or snacks.
The swimming pool was closed when I was there. Think it's only open in the warmer months. There's not much to do at night at the hacienda - you're isolated in this rural area. You can watch TV, play on the beat-up ping-pong table or chat (or try to get your fire started!). Just know what you're in for, bring a warm jacket, and you'll have a great time.

Stayed November 2010, traveled with friends
Helpful?
2 Thank nutellanut
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sydney, Australia
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 9, 2010

Fantastic place. Yes it is old, and this is what it is all about: it is beautiful. The rooms are rustic but very atmospheric and the log fires in both our rooms made them very cosy. We stayed 5 nights and we would have loved to stay longer (Tim worked in Quito and easily commuted between Guachala and the city).
Lots to do aroudn Guachala: The stunning hot springs of Oyacachi (Guachala can organise a taxi to get you there if yu do not have your own car), the un-touristic market of Cayambe, great horseriding, star gazing and just walking and exploring the nearby village. The festival of IntiRaymi is a must too and can be easily attended from the hacienda.
It is a great place far from the "Disney world" version we experienced later in more upmarket haciendas.
The only little complain: the kitchen is almost deserted and it was not easy to know when we could eat.
Our 3 childre, 8, 13 and 15 absolutely adored the place.
The owner is very nice, knowledgeable and speaks perfect French (and english)
We will certainly go back. I hope it never get redevelop as one of those veru plosh haciendas that have lost most of their genuine historial feel.

  • Stayed April 2010, traveled with family
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank croc43
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo
Level Contributor
117 reviews
45 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 9, 2008

The hacienda is OLD! You feel the age not because the place is a tiny bit run down, but because it has this special atmosphere. It is almost like sleeping in a museum. And for me, a European without any previous experience with South America it was a place taken out from an adventure novel written a century ago!
If you like adventure, go there! If you prefer comfort, stay away - the room we had (in the old building) was about 4 meters high and very cold. We couldn't get the fireplace going, as the wood was too moist. The bathroom was clean, but very old and run down. The room was very atmospheric, but the bathroom was ugly, actually the only thing I did not like about the Hacienda experience.
We stayed off-season (or so it seems) as there was almost nobody else staying there with us (which was a good thing, made the whole adventure feeling even better). The pool area was closed, which was a pity, as it would be like bathing in a botanic garden - the pool is situated in a kind of greenhouse with lots of exotic plants around.
I loved the picture gallery in the church, it showed the hacienda's and the owners' history, and made me feel like a guest at someone's house, as opposed to a tourist at a hotel.
I cannot remember the food anymore, but I guess it is a good sign - if it was bad, I would remember it!

  • Liked — the age of the place
  • Disliked — it was very cold
  • Stayed June 2006, traveled as a couple
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
Helpful?
1 Thank jo-dr
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sterling, VA
Level Contributor
55 reviews
17 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 254 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed October 22, 2007

We stayed here while exploring the Cayumbe area between Quito and Otavalo in July 2007. Guachala is the oldest Spanish hacienda in Ecuador with an illustrious list of presidents and dignitaries as past owners and guests. Built around 1580 it is a grand old plantation style estate with ecclectic rooms and Andean decor.
We enjoyed walking the grounds and discovered a large recreation room containing a pool table, computers, conversation areas and library with Time magazines dating to the 1960s. Inside the chapel is an extensive photographic history of the hacienda and the area-- fascinating!
They didn't have a regular matrimonial (double) room available/ready. Even though we showed up without notice or reservations, they gave us room "M" with over 1000 sq feet and 4 beds for the same rate. The fireplace in the center of the room was stocked with eucalyptus kindling and a large basket of firewood. Making a fire was romantic and using it to stay warm was reminiscent of the hacienda's more glorious days.
Unfortunately, this magnificent place has seen its better days... paint is peeling, windows cracked and ceilings are falling down. I believe the current proprietors have done alot to make it this inhabitable with charming rooms. But, I think it would cost a fortune to restore its grandeur.
I recommend staying here for the historical significance and the serenity, just don't expect any posh. Also, the dinner and breakfast we had here was wonderful and reasonably priced.
Just after leaving the hacienda heading north toward Otavalo, stop at Quitsato-- the official middle of the world (yep, another one). We heard a wonderful presentation by Christobal of Hacienda Guachala which is hosting a group of geologists and archeologists studying the phenomenal ruins atop the adjoining mountain.

  • Liked — Historic significance
  • Stayed July 2007, traveled as a couple
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Check in / front desk
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank VATravelers
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Hacienda Guachala

Property: Hacienda Guachala
Address: Panamerica Norte KM. 70 | Cayambe, Quito, Ecuador
Location: Ecuador > Pichincha Province > Quito
Amenities:
Restaurant Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #50 of 249 Specialty Lodging in Quito
Number of rooms: 25
Also Known As:
Hacienda Guachala Hotel Quito

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