Ecuador is a diverse country filled with crowded buses jammed with passengers. Getting from place to place can be time consuming because most budget buses constantly stop to drop off or grab more people. The value is good for long distance buses because riders pay roughly $1US per hour on the road.
Travelers who have the time should consider spending time in three relaxing towns in northern Ecuador. Otavalo and Banos de Santa Agua are small towns along the Andean spine. Montanita is a beach town drawing thousands of surfers and nightlife enthusiasts. Finding a nice place to stay in any of these towns is important for recovering from long bus journeys.
The best hotel in Otavalo Ecuador
The city of Otavalo is surrounded by steep hills and tiny villages. Many travelers pass through on their way to or from Colombia. Otavalo is about two and a half hours north by bus from Quito. The city is most famous for its sprawling Saturday Market where vendors have been selling products since before the Incas arrived. Residents of Otavalo and the small craft towns scattered nearby create wood carvings, wall art, clothing, leather products, and musical instruments. For great side trips from Otavalo, Parque Condor, Peguche, waterfalls, and lakes are all within easy reach by taxi or foot.
Hotel Riviera Sucre is located at Garcia Moreno 380 and the esquina (corner) of Roca. They have rooms to fit large groups, families, couples, and individuals. Some come with amenities like a balcony view of the street or private bathrooms. Guests have access to a communal kitchen and can keep food in the refrigerator. Hotel Riviera Sucre also has a library with a television and plenty of DVDs to select from. There are computers in the main dining room and a beautiful flora filled courtyard in the back. The staff literally sprints to the front door when visitors ring the doorbell or when it’s time to turn on outdoor lights. A nearby restaurant named Quinos makes dinner an easy call.
The best hotel in Banos Ecuador
Banos de Santa Agua is about three and a half hours south from the capital of Quito. Nearby volcanos have carved an amazing landscape of verdant peaks, thermal pools, hundreds of waterfalls, and raging rivers. Ecuadorian and international visitors stream into Banos for activities that include hiking, soaking in hot springs, zip lines, and even getting Chinese acupuncture. The music scene is thriving thanks to festivals like the feriados and live shows at penas like Pipas Bar. The Stray Dog brewpub is great for American bar food and healthy pours of microbrewed beer.
La Casa Verde is an invigorating walk or an affordable taxi ride from Banos. Lodging here is along a river and tranquil. The owners are experts on local travel and expat living in Ecuador, and are always eager to help with advice on every topic in English or Spanish. The hotel is one of few eco-friendly options in this mountainous region and there are hammocks for lounging in common areas and on some private balconies. The hotel has recently renovated and has new buildings and even more common spaces. La Casa Verde offers an amazing breakfast to guests featuring yogurt, fresh fruit, plates of cheese, tomato, and avocado, vegemite, and freshly baked breads with heart-healthy ingredients. Ready-made meals are stocked in the communal kitchen’s refrigerator. Guests simply reheat dishes like soups, curries, and garlic bread then pay upon checkout.
The best hotel in Montanita Ecuador
Montanita is a world class surf spot and the locale for international surfing competitions. Located three and a half hours northwest from Guayaquil, Montanita has one of the highest concentrations of youthful party seekers in all of Ecuador. The dress in town ranges from casual beachwear to clubhopping threads. The fish soup sold from rolling carts along Montanita’s streets is a hearty local treat in the morning. Vendors sell jewelry and handicrafts off sheets on the ground and everyone bobs their heads to music caught in their minds from the night before. There is no rush for anything in Montanita. Daytime diversions are just for killing time until darkness falls. Visitors on the Ruta del Sol travel to Puerto Lopez for whales, Manta for citylife, and Montecristi for history. But they go to Montanita just to chill out.
One problem that Montanita has is an abundance of rundown accommodations. Maybe they count on surfers being too mellow or tired to complain and the partyers too hungover to care about a hotel’s need for renovations. Abad Lounge Hotel is the perfect cure for this problem. The building is new on the outside and on the inside and the staff is friendly. The rooms are very clean for Montanita and some have balconies with beachfront views. Abad Lounge Hotel also has an attached restaurant and a bar offering views of the nightlife scene. It is located on Calle de la Cocteles.
Whether heading to Ecuador for the mountains or the beaches, travelers should consider stops in relaxing towns like Otavalo, Banos de Santa Agua, and Montanita. After resting and rejuvenating their tired bodies, explorers are ready for their next long bus ride.