Two distinct, yet in some ways similar, lodging options in Ecuador are small, converted old haciendas and isolated ecolodges. While the haciendas tend to be located on the high Andean plains, the ecolodges are mostly found in the Oriente or the Amazon basin. Both tend to be small and isolated, and nature-viewing and active adventure activities are the order of the day.
Hacienda Cusín (San Pablo del Lago, Otavalo; tel. 06/2918-013; www.haciendacusin.com): This 17th-century hacienda was sold originally at auction in Spain by King Phillip II. It's located just outside Otavalo, beside the pretty San Pablo Lake. Accommodations, food, and service are all top-draw, and the surrounding gardens and volcano views are delightful.
Hacienda Zuleta (Angochahua, Imbabura; tel. 06/2662-182; www.zuleta.com): With sprawling grounds; a working cheese, cattle, and horse farm; and the largest original entrance plaza of any hacienda in Ecuador, this place exudes authenticity. Once the home of President Galo Plaza, and still in his family, the hacienda offers wonderful and comfortable rooms, tasty family-style meals, and a host of tour options. Horseback riding is excellent here. They also have a condor rescue project on their grounds.
Black Sheep Inn (Chugchilán, Cotopaxi; tel. 03/2814-587; www.blacksheepinn.com): This isolated high-altitude ecolodge is built on a hillside overlooking a beautiful river canyon. Situated about midway along the famed Quilotoa Loop, this is hands-down the best place to stay while taking part in the hiking, biking, trekking, and other adventures available in this pretty and pristine area.
Hacienda Leito (outside Patate, Baños; tel. 03/2859-329; www.haciendaleito.com): This isolated hacienda provides a fabulous mix of old and new. The original ranch building, with its original cobblestone driveway, central fountain, and antique artworks and furnishings, is a classic example of a colonial-Spanish hacienda. But the extensive spa, up-to-date rooms, and free Wi-Fi let you know you're in the 21st century.
Hacienda San Augustín de Callo (Lasso, Cotopaxi; tel./fax 02/2906-157; www.incahacienda.com): My pick for the most unique hacienda in Ecuador, this place is built upon the ruins of both an Inca palace and a colonial-era monastery. Some of the rooms here have walls laid by Inca masons, with their distinctive stone work. All are stunning and unique, with artistic touches that range from hand-painted murals to working stone fireplaces.
Hostería La Andaluza (Chuquipogyo, Chimborazo; tel. 03/2949-370): Located on the outskirts of Riobamba, in the shadow of Chimborazo peak, this converted old hacienda is the best hotel for many miles around. A relaxed and cozy vibe and colonial-era authenticity are prevalent. The restaurant here is excellent, and a number of activities are available.
Kashama (outside Santo Domingo de los Colorados; tel. 02/2773-193; www.kashama.com): This is a beautiful and relaxing jungle lodge and spa set on the shores of the Río Blanco. Creative design elements and arty touches abound. The inviting pool features a tall, sculpted waterfall, and the excellent spa here offers a wide range of treatments and cures. All sorts of tours and adventures are also offered.
Napo Wildlife Center (lower Río Napo; tel. 866/750-0830 in the U.S., or 02/6005-819 reservation office in Quito; www.napowildlifecenter.com): Run as a joint venture with the local Añangu Quichua community, this is one of the top ecolodges in the Amazon basin. The 12 lakefront bungalows are rustically luxurious, and the guides, food, and service are superb. Tours and adventures are offered, including visits to local indigenous communities and tours of the rivers, lagoons, and creeks of this lowland rainforest region.
Kapawi Ecolodge & Reserve (on the Río Pastaza; tel. 02/6009-333; www.kapawi.com): This pioneering ecolodge is located deep in the Amazon rainforest among the villages of the Achuar tribe. You can only reach Kapawi on a private charter flight, and the isolation is part of the charm. Beautiful cabins (built on stilts over a black-water lagoon), great food, and fantastic guides don't hurt, either. This place provides a top-notch Amazon rainforest experience.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.