Casa de Las Rosas is a charming little six-room guest house that was once the family home of its owner, providing a family museum as well as perfect place to stay in Cuenca.
The small, family-run inn Casa de Las Rosas in Cuenca, Ecuador did not come by its name lightly. This was the home of the Tapia family from 1952 until 2008, and today is run as a six-room boutique hotel by Rosa Tapia Peña, daughter of Luis and Rosa Tapia who built the home. With both mother and daughter named Rosa, and the fact that Cuenca is the rose capital of Ecuador (exporting flowers all over the world), and the name seemed appropriate.
"I was trying to find an appropriate name, for me it was important," says Rosa Tapia Peña. "My mother was named Rosa, like me, so it was two generations of Rosas."
Roses also feature predominantly throughout the hotel, with vases of them in the lobby and dining/sitting rooms. When I arrived at Casa de Las Rosas and was shown to my room (The Celeste), rose petals were scattered on the bed as well as the bathroom counter, giving a very nice touch. The Celeste room was extremely spacious and comfortable, with a king-sized bed, large wardrobe, windows overlooking a quiet street and a nice bathroom.
Other rooms include Esmerelda on the ground floor, with two double beds and access to the interior garden; Naranja on the second flopr, with two twin beds and originally the room of brothers Genaro and Telmo; Suite Verde offering a double bed in the larger room and one single bed in the smaller; and Suite Amarilla with rooms overlooking the courtyard and into the garden. This suite is a small independent apartment with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a wide corridor. It offers a double bed in one bedroom and a second bedroom with twin beds. It is ideal for two or three people or a family with two children. The yellow suite occupies three different areas of what was the old house; the toy room, a guest room, and the darkroom where the father developed his photos.
The last room is an Apartment Suite on the third floor, Suite El Tejado. It is the largest of guest rooms and perfect for a long-term stay, with a warm and delicate ambiance. It has two bedrooms with two bathrooms separated by a convenient corridor. It also offers a unique environment with a full living room, dining room and kitchen. The smaller room has a single bed and offers a wonderful view of the characteristic tile roofs of the historic center of Cuenca. The larger room with the double bed offers private access to a large terrace, an ideal place to rest and sunbathe in peace.
All original spaces of the mansion have been preserved while being enhanced in their new role within the modern and stylish hotel. Each room has a private bathroom, cable TV, telephone, and Wi-Fi internet.
It is a house with a story; the entire inn is filled with items and momentos from the Tapia Peña family, such as a sewing machine, books, chests, tea sets, photographs and much more. Rosa Tapia Peña says that at the time her father Luis built the house, in 1952, it was on the outskirts of the city. "But Cuenca has grown a lot since then, up around the house. We are in the middle of the city now."
Casa de Las Rosas does offer a good location, a bit outside the hustle and bustle of tourist central, but easy walking distance to the major sites and attractions of Cuenca, only blocks away. The entire city of Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and extremely popular with both Ecuadorians and foreigners alike. Besides tourists who are just visiting, there is a large expat community of people who have found Cuenca so charming, livable and affordable that they have moved here permanently.
"I was born here," Rosa told me one morning after breakfast, as she gazed around the renovated home with obvious affection. "My parents came here when they already had six children; I was the 12th and last child."
This was the family home until 2008, when Luis and Mama Rosa grew elderly enough that it became hard to navigate the stairs, and they needed to live in a place easier for them. The parents initially wanted to sell the house, but daughter Rosa rejected that idea. "To me, it was important to keep it, to have it," she says. She and her husband, who live in Italy, bought the house from her parents in 2011 and spent a year lovingly restoring it, to be both updated and modern while still retaining the original footprint and character of the home. "We tried to keep it like it was; these are the same areas we used. I used to play here," she says of the sitting area where we are talking.
Casa de Las Rosas then opened as a hotel one year ago today, in July 2012. Today brings the inn's one year anniversary, and the entire family is celebrating with a special inauguration. Rosa and her family are in Cuenca from Italy, along with all of her 11 siblings and their families from all over the world - one is in the United States and another in Belgium. "It is a very special day for us."
The rates at Casa de Las Rosas range from $60 to $140 USD for two people; with three or four people, the rates are $110-160. All rates include a delicious, extensive breakfast spread.
Nearby places in Cuenca worth a mention:
Quito, Ecuador made big travel news in February 2013, when it opened a brand new airport just outside of the city. The new airport was much needed, and is beautiful and state-of-the-art, but it presents one new travel challenge: It is quite far from the actual city of Quito.
While the old airport was right next to downtown Quito, the new airport lies to the north of the city and it can take anywhere between one and two hours, depending on traffic, to reach the Old Town city center. This can present a special problem for travelers with very early morning or red-eye flights, or those who arrive on late night flights. Fortunately, a few hotels have begun to spring up around the new airport, making a quick layover for those flights much easier.
Hosteria Rancho San Carlos is one of these: a comfortable family-style guest house and hostel by the new airport in Quito. It is very close to the airport, only seven to ten minutes by car (and the hotel offers airport transfer service for $5 per person, each way). The place has a bit of a feel of a Swiss chalet, with a cozy, colorful downstairs dining area, places outside for relaxing and a comfortable sitting room upstairs. Breakfast is good, coffee and tea available all the time.
The rooms are simple but comfortable and extremely clean, offering private baths, television with cable and wi-fi access. Separate quarters, across from the main building, offers hostel-style dorm rooms with shared baths. The property is large and green, with a pool and plenty of room for walking around and exploring.
Tababela is a sleepy little town which is very pleasant to spend a day in. There is not much to do, but a walk around town and to the pretty, immaculate park in the middle of the town square next to a church is very worthwhile. There are a few small shops, and a couple of other places to get something to eat. Hosteria Casa Maria just down the road has a good pizzeria and pool tables.
If you spend an entire day or the better part of a day here, there is a gem just two blocks down the street from Rancho San Carlos, a large recreational park where you can go hiking for a $5 entrance day fee.
Overall, Hosteria Rancho San Carlos is a lovely place and experience, and if you need to be closer to the airport for an early morning or red eye departure, or a late night arrival, this BY FAR beats driving an hour and a half into Quito proper.
Ecuador has a lot of history, culture, traditions and arts - and with a stay at Morenica del Rosario in one of the country's most charming cities, Cuenca, your accommodations encompass all of that.
Morenica is almost as much a heritage museum as it is a hotel. Sprinkled throughout its four floors are artifacts, handicrafts, antiques and other pieces from Ecuador's cultural timeline. Part of the pleasure of arriving into the hotel is wandering through the place taking it all in; even the stairway is filled with treasures.
This also creates some wonderful common-area spaces in which to relax, work, or socialize. In addition to the K'ipa cafe/bar on the ground level, the second floor has a beautiful, large sitting area. Around the corner is a hidden stairwell to a hideaway nook just beckoning to guests.
Another impressive thing about Morenica del Rosario is the view from the upper floor windows and rooftop terrace; its location right by the Iglesia Santo Domingo allows for stunning views of the cathedral's twin domes from on high - even more dramatic at night, when the church is lit up.
The location can't be beat; Morenica is in the midst of all that is happening in Cuenca, just steps from the main Nueva Cathedral and central plaza, along with top restaurants and shops. Guest rooms are luxurious and comfortable, each with its own unique decor. Amenities include:
Full bed with 2 types of pillows
Digital safe box
High speed wireless
Desk and chair
Rates include breakfast, which is a fairly extensive buffet including fresh fruits and amazing fresh-squeezed juices, hot/savory items and a meat and cheese plate. Every morning there seemed to be a different local specialty also on hand.
Originally built in 1930 as a family home in the newer (at that time) part of Quito just north of the Old Town Center, Casa Joaquin has loads of history and character. The family run, colonial-era inn has been completely renovated, very well-done and tasteful. The decor is stylish, but not at all over the top; it's mix of European tradition and contemporary trend works. The place is very comfortable and homey while achieving elegance at the same time. The hotel was named after the famous painter Joaquin Pinto (1842 – 1906), who lived in Quito and who is considered to have been the “Ecuadorian Da Vinci”.
It is also the perfect size, in my opinion. The original Ecuadorian wood and iron staircase leads to 13 brand-new, individually designed guest rooms, with furniture and decor by local artisans. Each room is unique and has been named after an old drawing or art-reproduction the owners found in the house, left by the former inhabitant and dated from 1920-1940. There is also a full apartment in the back of the property, on ground level, with a bedroom, living room and full kitchen along with a private garden terrace. The apartment is perfect for long term stays of a week, several weeks or months.
Breakfast is a treat; along with the full European continental breakfast, each day guests are also served a specialty of the house that is fair-trade prepared. On our mornings we were treated to crepes, French toast and a savory pastry. A serious Italian espresso machine means that you can also order a wonderful, authentic cappuccino or espresso. Their secret? secret? Two cooks who owned a famous gastronomic restaurant in Leuven, Belgium created Hotel Casa Joaquin - and they just can’t hide their love for fine food!
Adjacent to the dining room is a small, cozy bar that is a nice place to have a drink in the evening. The red phone-booth door to the WC closet (bathroom) is an unexpected, fun and quirky touch.
The staff is excellent - knowledgeable and helpful, while respecting your privacy and giving you as much or as little service as you desire. Rooms are extremely tasteful and comfortable, with excellent European bathrooms.
The neighborhood, La Mariscal, is fun and lively. This is the less conservative, younger and more bohemian Quito neighborhood. All around Casa Joaquin are a wide choice of international restaurants and bars, particularly two blocks down where a corner plaza is a very happening spot in the evening, filled with street cafes, restaurants, and people walking around. Only a few blocks to the trolle system that will take you straight down into Old Town Quito, the location is easily accessible to other parts of the city as well.
All in all, Casa Joaquin offers everything you would want in a boutique hotel, and is the perfect affordable yet luxurious starting point for visiting the treasures of UNESCO World Heritage city, Quito.
orthopedic mattresses, anti-mites treatment
private bathroom with shower, WC and hairdryer
flat screen cable TV
free wireless internet
safety deposit box
delightful breakfast included
24 hour reception