Where to stay in Quito!

3 Sep

As I mentioned in my first post about my Ecuadorian adventure, I was unsure if I should be going to Quito, especially as a solo female traveller. I went down the internet rabbit hole when I typed “Quito female traveller safety” into google. Because you can easily support any thesis with a simple google search, I don’t recommend doing it! A little worried, I put feelers out on twitter to see what fellow travel bloggers had to say. Even the adventurous Helen Suk (of Not Without my Passport) replied said she had skipped it in favour of going straight to the Galapagos after hearing about the safety concerns. All cause for a pause…

And then a Globe and Mail article inspired me to take the leap, a choice that was confirmed when I saw that TripAdvisor had named Quito as one of its top destinations of 2013!

But, where to stay as a solo female traveller in Quito? Where would I feel safe and yet not isolated? 

I easily identified my variables before beginning my search: I knew I wanted to stay somewhere that would have a social atmosphere (so I wouldn’t feel lonely), a central and safe location (so I wouldn’t have to worry about my safety!) and somewhere that would fit into my budget. I used my usual tools of the trade to make my choice: Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and HostelWorld.

The place that met all of my requirements (all those listed above as well as possessing a je ne sais quoi that appealed to me) AND had space for the time that I was there was The Secret Garden Quito.

One of the biggest draws for me was that there was a social space on the top floor of the hostel with what a number of backpackers online called an envious view… and boy, they were right!

A view from the top floor terrace at the Secret Garden, Quito!

Panorama of the view from the top floor terrace at the Secret Garden, Quito!

For friends who think I’m pathetically poor when I choose to go to hostels, it’s not only money that is a motivating factor – it’s being able to meet other people and disconnect with the structure and demands of my life back home. Robert Schrader, author of Leave Your Daily Hell, presented this conundrum in a post titled “Where Backpackers Go to Die” (the title is somewhat misleading, but it’s a good read). My solution is to still stay at hostels but to get a single room, because now that I’m over the ripe old age of 25, a good nights rest is a priority. Oh, and I had a crap load of stuff for work that I didn’t want to “magically” disappear. 

I sometimes also like the option of having my own washroom (because, ahem, travel can be unfriendly to your stomach!) but I wasn’t able too here. This didn’t end up being a problem as there were enough washrooms and showers and toilets were mostly separated so that their use could be as well!

The people of Secret Garden also had a great sense of humour about the issues surrounding shared washrooms:

Hehe..You know you're at a hostel when...

Hehe..You know you’re at a hostel when…

Socially, the Secret Garden was a HUGE success. Some people I only knew for 72 hours but I still miss them, Alice dubs these “friendship flings”. My fears of travelling solo were stamped out by a group of lovely, inclusive, adventurous and friendly people. That, and I didn’t take an unnecessary risks: I didn’t walk alone outside once it was dark or take taxis that hadn’t been vetted by the hostel or a reputable organization.

The social aspect also included breakfast and dinner, where for just under 3 and 5 dollars respectively, you could get a filling meal on the awesome terrace and socialize with other travellers. It has become less fashionable in certain hostels to offer meals as they believe it takes away from other local businesses in the area and causes backpackers to stay where they are and isolated from the local people. While I do sympathize with this concept, it also gives the kitchen staff of the hostel jobs and very tired travellers a place to eat that is easy access. I did venture outside of the hostel for many meals, but when I was tired (both physically and of speaking Spanish all day!) it was perfect!

One complaint that I saw over the message boards was that the reception desk at Secret Garden is up four fligths of stairs on the terrace. You see this right before you get to the top, so don’t forget your altitute meds and remember to drink coca tea!:

Alllllllllllmost there!!!

Alllllllllllmost there!!!

It was certainly uncomfortable the first time around, as I was absolutely exhausted. But I didn’t have to haul my bags up… as American Airlines had left them in Miami. But I knew of others who had left their bags with the security guard at the entrance and ran/wheezed up the stairs to check-in.

To those who complained about it: you don’t always choose hostels for the comfort, you do so for the conveniences and the opportunities they provide!

Some of Secret Garden’s fun conveniences (besides the terrace!): complimentary walking tours in the morning, an in-house travel agency!, a fantastic in-house Spanish teacher, free tea and coffee all day, free water and a great central location. Oh, I found everything to always be clean so I really had no complaints!

Now this is no place for the self-proclaimed fussy “old people in young bodies” of Clementine and HoM. But I would go back here with Alice and MC, or tell them to go without me as they didn’t have the pleasure of travelling with me this time!





4 Responses to “Where to stay in Quito!”

  1. clementineyyz September 3, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    “Now this is no place for the self-proclaimed fussy “old people in young bodies”” — guilty as charged. We need AC and soft fluffy sheets!

    • yyz cherry September 4, 2013 at 12:53 am #

      Nothing wrong with that!!! I like you two just the way you are.

      I appreciate AC and fluffy sheets as well: near the end of a trip it is a necessity if you are tired!

  2. magali September 4, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    glad it was such a success!

    I am surprised you managed to post before your move!

    • yyz cherry September 4, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

      haha! Thanks! it was on my to do list! but I’ve put off completing the rest of my Ecuador posts due to packing and moving 🙂

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