The city of Cuenca in Ecuador has been getting quite a buzz the past few years, partly because it’s a mini expatriate haven, with foreigners moving there to take advantage of the nice year-round climate and low cost of living. Cuenca gets a fair number of tourists too, however, and those not opting for one of the local historic inns or haciendas usually end up at Oro Verde Hotel.
This is the best large hotel in the city, but “large” is a relative term: it only has 69 rooms. Oro Verde is a regional chain in Ecuador though, so this runs like a much larger hotel. Staffers at the front desk can speak English, for one thing, and all are well-trained.
Located on the edge of the city, in an area with expensive (in local terms) condos, this is not a place where you can stroll out the door and be in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage historic center. It’s only a block from a river flowing through town though, which has paths on both sides for strolling or jogging. I actually did walk from here to to the center at one point when feeling like I needed some exercise—it’s about three kilometers to the main plaza.
The spacious lobby and lounge are flanked by a piano and a small bar, though I didn’t see anyone manning either during my three-day stay. Otherwise there are plenty of staffers around to see to your needs, from the front desk to the restaurant to housekeeping. The restaurant is a hopping place at breakfast, when a mix of Ecuadoran and international dishes create an interesting smorgasbord. It also serves lunch and dinner.
Adjoining the lobby is a coffee and pastry shop with an excellent array of tempting goodies, all at reasonable prices.
The outdoor pool is inviting when the weather is hot, though it never gets all that steamy at this altitude. A small gym has some basic equipment, a TV, and a view of the pool.
Rooms are much newer and fresher looking than the public areas and hallways, renovated in a more contemporary style and furnished with flat-screen cable TVs. (With, oddly enough, the excellent Al Jazeera America news station.) Electronic safes, complimentary wired or wireless internet, and minibars whose prices won’t make you faint are standard. Alas, even the suites don’t have robes and slippers, but padded headboards, good bedding, and ergonomic desk chairs keep you comfortable otherwise.
While this hotel doesn’t have the charm of some of the colonial ones in the center like Mansion Alcazar, it offers parking, easy pickup out front, and plenty of room in the rooms and lounge. Plus rates start at less than $120 per night and suite upgrades aren’t a whole lot more.