Valentine’s Day might be the day dedicated to lovers, but these Ecuador hotels have a timeless romance that goes far beyond heart-shaped chocolate boxes. From haciendas with centuries of history and lodges buried deep within the cloud forest to beachfront hideaways, these are hotels to get passionate about.
Snuggle up by the fireplace in the privacy of your own bedroom in this 16th-century former Ecuadorian president’s home, set in beautifully preserved antique gardens within a working farm. Surrounded by green valleys, lakes, snow-capped volcanoes and pre-Incan ruins, this northern Andes hacienda is the perfect base from which to explore the Cayambe region on horseback à deux – it even has its own breed of horse called the Zuleteño.
There are Ecuador hotels to get away from it all – and then there’s Mashpi Lodge. With its strikingly modern architecture featuring floor-to-ceiling windows, Mashpi is a cocoon of luxury set in a 1,200 hectare (3,000 acre) natural reserve in the Chocó cloud forest. Explore the steaming jungle with its many intriguing residents, including elusive pumas, dainty glass frogs and hundreds of exotic birds. After days of adventure and bathing in waterfalls, relax in the open-air hot-tub with a fine wine from the lodge’s exemplary cellar.
Fall back in love with the simplicity of nature at this Mindo hideaway with its rustic, riverside cabins from which you can hear the rush of the current; wholesome, organic food served from an open kitchen; and fabulous wildlife walks around the lush cloud forest setting. For that extra exclusivity, arrival is by tarabita, or hand-pulled cable car, and a beautiful swimming pool filled with water diverted from the river invites you and your companion to contemplate life while you’re literally immersed in the natural world.
Located along the Ruta Spondilus (otherwise known as the Route of the Sun) in the Manabi region, Las Tanusas is a retreat for lovers of food, pampering and the haze of beach life. Feast on seafood and fish fresh from the Pacific, or, for nourishment of the spiritual kind, try yoga and Pilates in the oceanfront property’s high-end spa. Like Galapagos Safari Camp, Las Tanusas designs surprises, treats and activities specifically for you and your beau, making it one of the most tailor-made experiences of all the Ecuador hotels.
A flight from Guayaquil to the Galapagos Islands is the perfect opportunity to stop by Hotel del Parque, an oasis of calm in the heart of the vivacious city. The historic clapboard property is found within a tropical park where exotic birds swoop among palm trees and boats navigate steadily along the adjacent river. Indulge in the luxuriously stylish interiors (and one of the best breakfasts in the city), or take a moment to pause before your flight in the cool inner courtyards bursting with rainbow-colored orchids.
Another historic mansion but this time in Quito’s Historic Center, Casa Gangotena is like a living time capsule, allowing you to step back to a more elegant epoch. With old-school glamour and service, the bedrooms of this refined Ecuador hotel are a joy to behold, equipped with delicious bathtubs and, in some cases, meticulously restored frescos. Spend lingering evenings making your way through the menu of signature cocktails from the third-floor panoramic terrace; perched over Quito’s iconic Plaza San Francisco, its views stretch beyond the charming Old Town towards the rolling Andes mountain range.
There’s a very particular romance at Galapagos Safari Camp, where the love of nature, freedom and making our own rules far outweighs the appeal of candlelit dinners and couples’ massages (although both can be arranged!) Here in the highlands of Santa Cruz, bliss comes in the form of exquisite sunsets over the islands, the exhilaration of sleeping in tents a hair’s breadth from wildlife, and sharing the first sight of an exotic creature with the people you love. The camp was born of a starry-eyed idea: two lovers giving up everything to pursue the life they’d dreamed of in the wild. Valentine’s Day or not, Galapagos Safari Camp is the most romantic of them all.
See our Safari Holidays for our suggested Galapagos itineraries and recommended activities.