After a long day of touring in Quito and Mindo, what a gift it is to come home to Casa el Eden, a bed and breakfast right in the heart of the Old City.
Beautiful wooden doors open on a frescoed hallway, which, in turn, opens on an airy central courtyard. Mario and Blanca, the owners, spared no expense when restoring this Republican-era house, modernizing the design (by placing a glass ceiling over the interior courtyard, for example) without marring the home’s authentic character. The result is a soaring, light-filled space that somehow manages to be both cozy and spacious at the same time.
Up three flights of elaborately carved wooden stairs, our room is well-appointed, with sixteen-foot ceilings, huge shuttered windows, a comfortable king-size bed, and an open floor plan. But the two features I love the most are the rainforest-style shower (with a never-ending supply of hot water) and the fast, reliable wi-fi (unheard of in most South American properties we’ve visited).
Staying at Casa el Eden means we have just a two-minute walk to Plaza de Theatro and a five-minute walk to Plaza Grande (also called the Plaza de la Independencia), the San Francisco Church and Convent, and the gilded, stunning Compania de Jesus church. All of the Old City’s most charming destinations are literally at our feet.
And while there are some beautiful hotel properties in the area (the Plaza Grande Hotel comes to mind), the massive, beautifully decorated rooms of Casa del Eden cost about a third of what the fancy hotels are charging. And that room rate, by the way, includes a customized full breakfast with fresh local breads, a parade of rare and fresh-squeezed juices, eggs your way, and a generous bowl of fruit.
For foodies: high-end (Theatrum, serving strictly average food in a bold and dramatic setting) and low-end, more local options (Vista Hermosa and the surprisingly affordable Plaza Grande Hotel restaurant) are footsteps away. Zazu, widely regarded as the best restaurant in Ecuador, serves a stunning $60.00, seven-course tasting menu, and is a fifteen minute, five dollar cab ride away. And for a romantic dinner with a great view, you must not miss dinner at El Ventenal, with its panoramic window overlooking Quito at night.
The best feature of Casa el Eden, though, are its hosts: Mario, and his wife, Blanca. Mario speaks more English, but Blanca is a skilled conversationalist. Even with my limited Spanish, I can follow her commentary on the construction of the house and take advantage of her offers to make reservations and snag taxis on our behalf. Both Mario and Blanca go out of their way to make a stay at Casa el Eden memorable and comfortable.
In fact, if you need a no-stress, no-need-to-plan vacation, just show up at Casa el Eden and let Mario and Blanca arrange your tours and dining for you. All you’ll have to do is enjoy! Highly recommended.