Ecuador has a wide range of accommodations, from wooden shacks in the mangroves to jungle lodges in the Amazon. You should book ahead during major fiestas or before market days, and often during 'high season' (July to August).
B&Bs A tried-and-true option in Ecuador.
Hotels From the more basic to luxury top end options.
Hostels There's a limited hostel system, though Quito is packed with them.
Lodges At which you can immerse yourself in Ecuador’s wildlife.
Haciendas & Hosterías Refurbished historic family ranches.
Homestays Allow travelers to interact with a local family.
Camping Allowed in much of the countryside.
Bed and breakfasts are especially popular in tourist destinations such as Quito, Baños, Cuenca and Otavalo. Once you’re out in the countryside, there’s a fine line between B&Bs and hosterías (small hotels). Due to Ecuadorian law, some places defined as 'hostels' are in fact nice, small hotels.
Camping is allowed on the grounds of a few rural hotels, and in the countryside and most national parks. There are no campgrounds in towns. There are climbers’ refugios (mountain refuges) on some of the major mountains, in some national parks, but you'll need to bring a sleeping bag and in colder places like Cotopaxi, proof that you have proper cold-weather gear.
Haciendas & Hosterías
The Ecuadorian highlands have some fabulous haciendas (historic family ranches that have been refurbished to accept tourists). They usually fall into the top end price bracket, but the price may include home-cooked meals and activities such as horseback riding or fishing. The best known haciendas are in the northern and central highlands.
Hosterías are similar, but are often smaller and more intimate. Hosterías regularly have rates that include full board and/or activities.
Spanish-language schools can often arrange homestays, where you can stay overnight, eat meals and interact with a local family. Homestays are available in Quito, Otavalo, and Cuenca, but are difficult to find elsewhere.
In some rural communities, where there are no hotels, you can ask around and often find a local family willing to let you stay the night. This happens only in the most off-the-beaten-track places, and you should always offer payment (although it may not be accepted).
Budget hotels range from $10 to $40 per person and may be basic, with just a bed and four walls. They can nevertheless be well looked after, very clean and excellent value. The cheapest rooms have communal bathrooms, but you can often find deals with a private bathroom for not much more.
Midrange hotels run to about $40 to $90 for a double and usually offer greater charm and more amenities – cable TV, reliable hot water and a better location – than their budget cousins.
Top end hotels are found in larger cities and resort areas. They generally offer a bit more luxury – spacious, design-strong or heritage rooms, great views, top-notch service and the like.
No matter where you stay, make sure to always peek at a room before committing. Remember that further from the street usually means a bit less noise.
Ecolodges and jungle lodges provide a fantastic way to experience Ecuador’s wildlife. Lodges are most popular in the Oriente and in the cloud forests of the western Andean slopes. The lodges in the Oriente are generally only available as part of a three- to five-day package, but this usually includes meals and activities. The lodge will arrange any river or jungle transportation, but you may have to get to the nearest departure town on your own.
Room rates are highest throughout Ecuador around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, Semana Santa (Easter week) and during July and August. They also peak during local fiestas. Hotels along the coast sometimes charge higher rates (and certainly draw bigger crowds) on weekends. Hotels are required to charge 12% sales tax (called IVA), though it’s often already included in the quoted rate. Better hotels often tack on an additional 10% to 15% service charge, so be sure to check whether the rate you’re quoted includes this.
Also look out for rates listed per person in many hotels.
Most hotels accept reservations without a credit card number. If you haven’t prepaid, however, always confirm your reservation if you’re arriving late in the day to avoid it being given to someone else or the reception closing and you struggling to get into your room. Pricier hotels may request prepayment.