Tucked high into the Ecuadorian Andes, a series of atmospheric colonial-inspired haciendas-cum-hotels unfold in dramatic valley settings, fringed by soaring volcanic peaks. Mostly family-run affairs, some working farms or horse ranches, all are rich in history and hospitality. Recently back from two weeks of hacienda-hopping in the Andean highlands surrounding Quito, these seven vetted haciendas deliver exceptional atmosphere at budget-friendly prices, from under $150/night.
1. Hacienda Cusín
This 400-year-old hacienda, tastefully refurbished in the ‘90s by its English proprietor, is filled with tasteful antiques, Andean handicrafts, roaring fireplaces, beamed ceilings, and expansive landscaped gardens (a haven for llamas and 50 species of birds). The 43 unique guestrooms (from $120/night) are appointed with period furnishings and regional handiwork, while a refined restaurant, cozy library, and activities like film screenings, Spanish lessons, and horseback riding round out the on-site offerings.
2. Hacienda El Porvenir
Near Cotopaxi National Park
This storybook-pretty hacienda is situated in the shadows of the towering Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui volcanoes. Here, guests can mingle with roaming dairy cattle and wild bulls while out horseback riding, mountain biking, and hiking, or amp up the adventure with a zip-lining or rope-climbing excursion. Fuel up on traditional Andean fare at the restaurant, then bunk down in one of 22 rooms, from the bare bones, shared-bath "Machai" units ($40/night) to the splurge-worthy suites ($139/night).
3. Hacienda Pinsaqui
This history-rich hacienda, set near the Imbabura Volcano and Otavalo market, showcases dramatic public spaces with European furnishings, local antiques, chandeliers, and marble floors. The grounds are home to roaming llamas and peacocks; horseback riding, mountain biking, or hiking excursions are readily available. Thirty guestrooms (from $122/night) come with fireplaces, while the on-site restaurant offers local fare paired with live Andean music at lunchtime; or, head for a nightcap at the equestrian-themed cellar bar.
4. Hacienda Chorlavi
A former 17th-century Jesuit monastery, this atmospheric hacienda has been in the hands of the Tobar family for six generations. Converted into a country inn in the 1970s, the hacienda’s decor reflects its monastery past with religious iconography and colorful murals. Grounds include a swimming pool, spa, playground, sports courts, gift shop, bar, and restaurant; stick around for Saturday performances of Ecuadorian folk music and dance. Forty-nine recently renovated rooms (from $90/night) offer colonial-inspired decor and flat-screen TVs.
5. Hacienda Manteles
Built in the 1960s and transformed into a hotel in the early 1990s, this little hacienda-inspired hotel offers views of the still-active Tungurahua Volcano; 500 forested acres for hiking and horseback riding; and expansive gardens and fruit orchards. Nineteen individually decorated rooms (rates from $140/night), some with fireplaces, spill out over three buildings. A cozy lounge set around a roaring fireplace and an adjacent dining area display archaeological objects unearthed in the area.
6. Hacienda La Alegria
This century-old hacienda, helmed by a family of horse lovers, is an equestrian’s dream, with numerous riding options offered throughout the surrounding Andes, suitable for all levels. When not out on horseback, visit the working dairy farm, warm up by a lounge log fire, chow down on a home-cooked three-course meal, or get to know the resident llamas, alpacas, and pups. Ten rooms (from $130/night) feature wooden beams and floors, equestrian-inspired decor, and sweeping views over verdant countryside.
7. Hacienda Abraspungo
Not far from the massive Chimborazo Volcano, this white-washed hacienda-style hotel was constructed in the mid 1990s with colonial design in mind. Antiques, old photographs, and images of regional landscapes set the tone for the 37-room property (from $120/night). Diversions include a playground, games room, and small petting zoo; horseback riding can be arranged in the area. Don’t miss the flavorful Andean-inspired cuisine in the atmospheric on-site eatery.
* All quoted rates are for double rooms, including breakfast and Wi-Fi.
Incurable travel addict, longtime travel scribe, and mindful money-saver Elissa Richard is currently indulging her insatiable wanderlust on an epic 14-month journey around the globe – intent on making it every step of the way without busting her modest budget. Follow her along the way as she reports back with budget-savvy travel tips from the mountains of Transylvania to the wilds of Tasmania, and from the little-trodden temples of Burma to the bustling bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. A vagabond in search of value, just for ShermansTravel!