ILLA Experience Hotel: Quito's Historical Home Away From Home
The ILLA is a boutique, luxury hotel found in the historic center of Quito, the capital of Ecuador. This small hotel is a delightful place, filled with enchanting stories, historical value and unique experiences. Ladies and gentleman, take a look into the wonderful world of ILLA...
The Hotel Design
As you saunter down a small, understated, cobbled street in the historic centre of Quito, an overwhelmingly huge door might just catch your eye - a quick glance to the left and you will see the golden silhouette in a simple, elegant display - ILLA. Eagerly you wait to the answer of the door, and as from the very moment you step inside, you will never want to call another place your home away from home.
Steps guide you towards the centre of the hotel, which displays a view to the entire internal structure of this historical build. You might be consumed by the beautiful water feature or the plush furniture pieces that adorn the pathway to the welcome desk, but don't forget to look up! This small, luxury hotel is a grand combination of three floors; each one is composed of different style, build and tells a new tale of days gone by. Taking inspirations from the Incan Empire, the Spanish colonial times and the Ecuadorian Republic, the first floor is held up with huge pillars, inspired by the colonial times. The second floor, inspired by the European influence, featuring detailed French-style ventanas, with the third and final floor revealing a more modern twist, boasting huge panoramic style windows.
As you wander the corridors there is always new things to see which make the interior design that much more interesting. The doors to each suite on the first floor are actually re-furbished, hand painted, hand-selected pieces from local churches! These grand doors showcase the religious and cultural devotion of Ecuador’s people from the past. Take a look as you step into the lobby - the huge ceiling tile is another piece of restored art, however this detail is taken from the original build of the building itself. Humbly, this hotel includes more elements of the original building from the second to the third floor. This staircase is bedazzled with salvaged and newly curated pieces of artwork from the original designer, who created much of the previous owner's personal fittings. ILLA have truly gone above and beyond to keep the antiquity intact.
Comprised of a highly intimate 10 rooms, each hotel suite is spacious, tasteful, perfectly designed and comfortable beyond belief. You will find 2x Luxury Suites, 2x Master Suites and 6x Suites - one of which is fully wheelchair accessible, found on the first floor. For wheelchair users, there is an elevator to travel between each level, providing ease of access to all social areas. In every corner of the private suites is a new detail - from the artisan-crafted armchairs to the hand-embroidered blankets, the spirit of the locals is alive and well. Your welcome bucket of champagne chills next to an assortment of delicious bite-sized pastries, beautifully illustrated city maps, your hand-cut room key, personally addressed (and framed) welcome sign and even some speciality tea to help you with the altitude! Your own Smart 4K TV is even endearingly concealed behind 3D frameworks, individually designed to mirror comprehensive sections of the stained glass windows, found in local places of worship.
Bathrooms are a dream at the ILLA. Gigantic spaces equipped with L'Occitane amenities, bath robes, slippers, wall to wall mirrors, plus a large bathtub and separate shower. The boutique hotel truly covers the basics and then some. You will find your mini-bar stocked (and replenished daily), 400 thread count sheets and heated flooring with a personalised thermostat. If that doesn't keep you toasty enough, you have two heated blankets in your closet - just get them out and curl up with a good book. I recommend the ILLA Hotel handbook, which is detailed, informative and available in every room.
The ILLA is so special because this hotel focuses on more than pure luxurious comfort and mind-blowing design. At the ILLA, you will be immersed in a multitude of experiences that allow you to become a piece of Ecuador's community. For example, the welcome drink is personal blend of special Ecuadorian liquors, (exclusive to the hotel) which is blended with blackberry fruits and a traditional grape-flavoured Ecuadorian soda. It is pure heaven!
But this is not the only special drink on the menu - try the cafe de la abuela in the main foyer, which is a unique blend of coffee beans, mandarin zest and egg shells! The coffee is brewed through a chuspa (a cotton filter typically native to South America) and believe me, when you try it you will understand why Ecuador is famous for its coffee. Feel free to sweeten it with some fresh cinnamon or sugar cane.
Now, for a product you may already be a little familiar with - the 'Panama' hat, or locally known Toquilla hat. The art of weaving these hats is so profoundly integral to Ecuadorian culture, it was listed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2012. At the ILLA Experience Hotel, you have the chance meet a local weaver who has been creating Panama hats since she was just 8 years old! You will sit down with her, and an assistant from the hotel who will help in translating any Spanish (so if you don't speak it, don't worry!). This experience takes you through the methodology of how the hats are created, and gives you the chance to try your hand at some weaving yourself!
Last, but certainly not least, I was invited to enjoy the evening dance performance. This display is presented on the beautiful outdoor terrace, under the early night sky. Ancestors in Ecuador, according to their beliefs, performed dances in gratitude and honour, to all the benefits received in each season, to their gods. The costumes are wild, intricate and spectacular. The dances are the heart and soul of Latin America, something one must truly witness for themselves.
Located in the San Marcos neighborhood, the ILLA hotel is in a fantastic hotspot for travellers. You are literally within mere walking distance of countless museums, cathedrals and churches. You can stroll from Plaza de San Francisco to Plaza Santo Domingo, grab an ice cream from the local bodega and head all the way to Plaza de la Independencia in under 30 minutes. Quito is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it also contains the largest collection of historically valuable architecture in South America. Every corner you turn, you are hypnotised by the aesthetic beauty of the Old Town.
You're in South America, so I promise you, finding good food will be the last of your worries! But at the ILLA, my oh my will you be blown away by the cuisine and drinks offered at the in-house restaurant, Nuema. Alejandro Chamorro is the mega-mind behind these dishes, who has studied under gastronomical pioneer Gastón Acurio in Peru and Quito. Piedad Salazar is the pastry chef, who handles the sweetly crafted side of la carta.
On offer is a lip-smacking dining experience like no other. Carefully devised 5, 7 or 9 course menus will be on offer each day, which will change constantly, sometimes daily based on the fresh local produce available. Every refined dish is an Ecuadorian classic, which has been transformed into a sexier, modern, molecular version of its more conventional former self. Another plus is that every set menu is allocated an optional wine pairing, which I would also fully recommend. Click here to read more about my full experience and the geniuses behind Nuema Restaurant.
Reserving A Night In Paradise
There is so much more to explore at the ILLA, but I would hate to ruin every surprise! At Rainforest Cruises, our luxury vessels in the Ecuadorian Amazon and the enchanted Galapagos Islands are waiting to be explored by people just like you! If you are travelling through Ecuador, and would love us to add the ILLA Experience into your travel plans, or simply have any questions, please send us an enquiry or call us on 1-888-215-355 to begin, or extend your Latin American adventure. Quito, the captivating centre of the world, is waiting for you.
This expert review was written by our Product Manager, Ebony.
Visit date: September 21, 2019