Eleanor Barker stays at The Casa Gangotena, in Quito, Ecuador.
At Quito Airport, at midnight, we were more than a little nervous when the on-site airport hotel informed us there were no rooms available. We were two flights from Santiago — and rather tired. Enter our heroes; the staff of Casa Gangotena. A driver was sent, and at about 1am we were welcomed with hearty sandwiches to their beautiful hotel.
Room: The rooms of the restored Casa Gangotena mansion have high ceilings, great soundproofing and feature a feast of neoclassical detail. The wallpaper and furniture is true to the former private home's Art Nouveau and Art Deco roots. I loved the Egyption marble bathroom and "proper bath". What's in the neighbourhood? On a Saturday morning I walked the streets of Quito for a few hours, admiring the mosaic-like vistas of this sun-drenched city perched high in the Andes. On the streets there were throngs of people, pop-up stalls, street food, art and performance. I spent my money on hand-drawn art, a carved incense "house" with chimney and some badly-needed sunglasses. Sixteenth and 17th-century churches are everywhere; the extraordinary level of detail of the architecture is a pleasure to behold.
Food and drink: There is a fine dining restaurant inside the Casa Gangotena that is rated among the top 10 restaurants in the city. If the bar snacks are anything to go by, it would be an excellent choice for a special meal. Don't forget to have a drink on the "secret rooftop" that looks over Plaza San Francisco, the centre of Quito's colonial Old Town, and the world's first Unesco World Heritage Site.
The bed: Mammoth — and one of the most comfortable beds I have slept on. The staff left chocolates, sparkling and still water and platters of fruit including, to my delight, gooseberries.
Price: Twin rooms from $800 and a delicious breakfast is included.
The bottom line: The Casa Gangotena offers incredible luxury and is the perfect base for exploration or a grand sanctuary after the trip of a lifetime to the Galapagos.