this was not a mistake: baños, ecuador

banos, ecuador | hotel, restaurant and other activites!

Do you remember the pimple-inducing move? Or my wisdom teeth pull out? There was also the question of remaining in this country, remember that? There was this glitch in our plan, this dinner party mishap, and the first time my invincible man got sick…(OK, I kind of enjoyed that one. Whatever.) And not to be forgotten, my unforgivable while totally understandable deed. Which I so, SO regret… (Um hmm, I regret it, and no I will not make eye contact! Walk away.)

Why am I forcing these not-so-distant memories on you? Well, in a word, to explain how badly we needed this vacation! Oh wait, that was eight words. Well in a word: vacation. And our vacation destination? Baños. It was not a mistake.

We had been warned by many people that if we did not have solid reservations, we could wind up sleeping on the street. But here’s a tip: Go during the week! Not only will there be loads of availability, but in some cases you can even negotiate the price. We spent our first night at La Petite Auberge. (16 de Diciembre and Montalvo – $12 per person/per night) And it just so happens to have a lovely French restaurant called Le Petit Restaurant. Obviously we needed to check that out.

where to stay and eat in banos, ecuador (le petit restaurant) - a good place to travel to!

With the savory ham crêpe, tomates à la provençale, asparagus salad and complimentary aji spread with warm bread, we were off to a good start!

hostels and restaurants in baños ecuador

We couldn’t wait to try out the natural thermal baths Baños is so famous for. After getting settled in at La Petite Auberge, we grabbed our swimsuits and headed over to Piscinas de la Virgen. A nighttime soak in natural hot springs, muy relajante.

We were excited to check out the Stray Dog Pub, offering locally brewed beers at a bargain. I came for the Stray Dog Stout, but the pulled pork sandwich I ordered with it blew my mind.

pubs night life in baños, ecuador

Our second day was a real treat. We knew we wanted to spend one night in a hotel where we could feel fancy and the Monte Selva Hotel certainly helped us achieve that! (Halflants and Montalvo – $76 per room/per night)

We took full advantage of the spa facilities and outdoor pools and loved our hillside cabin with its gorgeous view.

hotels spas in baños ecuador

For dinner, we were excited to try the Swiss Bistro, featuring cuisine from the European Alps. (Martinez and Alfaro) From the complimentary amuse-bouche to the fondue, steak with potatoes gratin, and gorgeous chocolate mousse desserts, we were very happy customers. Plus our waiter spoke French with us, German with the table next to us, English to the table in the next room, and Swedish to his boss. We were duly impressed.

where to eat restaurants in baños ecuador

The next morning we relaxed at the hotel and soaked in the outdoor hot tub for as long as we could.

When we finally had to head out, we walked around the town, checking out an artisan market and stopping for a latte and dessert at the famed Cafe Hood. (Montufar and Rocafuerte)

where to eat on a budget in baños ecuador cafés

Then it was time to check into our third sleep spot. We settled pretty easily on the newly renovated Mariane Hostel, after seeing the clean modern rooms tucked in behind a quiet path.

hostals where to stay in baños, ecuador

The theme of our trip seemed to be turning into good eats and relaxation. Just what the doctor ordered. We did, however, want to do at least one outdoorsy thing, and I kept seeing ads for horseback riding tours to the volcano. OK so even before we got there I had highlighted the horseback riding tours in our travel book. I couldn’t help myself! It’s one of those things that I’ve always wanted to do with my husband. I have great memories from when I was younger, gently whizzing over the field atop a mystic horse feeling like I was living a scene from The Man From Snowy River.

Of course in reality I was probably only ever on a horse a handful of times and afraid for my life. But it’s always seemed like such a romantic thing to do, so we went for it.

From the moment we mounted our beasts and I was told my horse always goes in front, I heard the voice of Will Arnett: “I’ve made a huge mistake.”

I was absolutely terrified. The saddle hurt like I was being punished for a terrible crime, we were not riding together beach side and my hair was not flowing behind me in the wind. This was no simple guided tour on a bored horse over flat terrain. I should have known it would be more, shall we say, rustic than my childhood rides, but the rugged nature of the ride took me entirely by surprise. As did the fact that my husband had apparently taken equestrian lessons when he was younger (?) and was galloping along smoothly with the ease and confidence of, well, the actual Man From Snowy River.

what to do for fun in baños ecuador

Our tour guide was tons of fun. He explained quite concisely what the gorge we passed to our left was all about. “Cuando el volcán poum poum, lava por aqui!”

“I’ve made a huge mistake.”

what to do for fun and adventure in baños ecuador

After the ordeal breath-taking tour, I was happy to freshen up in our room and get ready for our dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, Café Mariane. Delicious French Mediterranean fare served just a few steps from our room.

great restaurants, where to eat in baños ecuador

The meal was excellent and we slept like babies. How great is it to finish your dinner and only have to take a few steps to get to your bed?

For breakfast, we headed over to Plantas y Blanco for fresh fruit double pancakes and a variety of fresh fruit juices. (Martínez and 12 de Noviembre) We especially enjoyed the locally made cane syrup.

where to eat in baños ecuador, plantas y blanco

On the bus headed back to Quito, we looked back over our trip to Baños and we just knew we would be back one day. I have made some mistakes in my time, but Baños was not one of them.

posted in travel .

21 Responses to this was not a mistake: baños, ecuador

  1. Hey Kale!

    I couldn’t find your email, so I decided to leave a message here in your comments section. I have an award that I would like to give to you! To receive it, just go to my blog. Have a nice sunday!


  2. wow what a fantastic place to enjoy and relax yourself with good eats!

  3. Would you please be my trip planner? I could do all that in a heartbeat. Not a mistake.

  4. Emma says:

    Hehee, that quote made me laugh so hard. ‘I’ve made a huge mistake.’

    What a fantastic place! I looked up Baños, and what a lot of great amenities for a relatively small town. Imagine all that delicious cuisine, mmm!

    Umm, what husband has a secret equestrian past life – and somehow forgets to mention it?! 🙂

  5. Glad that you got some time away for some fun and to revitalize. It always does put a new perspective on things. Lovely landscape clicks here as well as delicious food.
    Ha-this reminds me of our trip to Jamaica, except I was the one that had the familiarity with horseback riding, my husband did not! Your expression in your pictures tell me that you were not at ease, but I am glad you trudged on to complete the tour. Have a great day!

  6. kale says:

    Connie – For future ref., my contact email is on the faq page at the header. But you can leave good news anywhere! Thanks Connie. 🙂

    Rosemary – A possible new career path? I like!

    Emma – I know right??! That guy. He knows how to keep things interesting.

  7. Peter Block says:

    love your site and love your photography. also, cool that you are teaching where you are. I hope you really enjoy the culture and food!

  8. What a fun time you had – I’m jealous of the soak in the thermal baths! Actually, I’m happy for you and so glad you had a good time.

  9. Val says:

    Wow, I went to Banos about 8 or 9 years ago and had the most amazing time, from the thermal baths to the bike ride we took to see all the waterfalls to the horseback ride up the volcano. Don’t remember what we ate there though, but it looks like they have really taken a step up culinarily!

  10. Christine says:

    Fantastic place!

  11. I had a great time looking at all the pics, the ones on sightseeing and the food too. I too love to travel because its a heavenly feeling exploring other places besides where we are from.

  12. Sounds like you guys had some well-earned time away from the stresses of life. Loved all the pics but especially loved the horse pics 🙂

  13. kale says:

    Peter Block – Thanks so much! It is quite an adjustment from life in Canada, but we’re really enjoying the experience!

    Val – Yes they definitely have! We were very impressed by all the good eats. For sure we need to go back, there is so much to see and do!

    Nava Krishnan – It is certainly one of life’s pleasures.

    CJ – Oh my, yes those shots are on the embarrassing side, but they make me laugh because I am so clearly uncomfortable! Just had to share those.

  14. Sounds like it was worth it good and bad, spa facilities, outdoor pools and a hillside cabin with a gorgeous view sounds heavenly!

  15. What an amazing getaway. Love your optimism through the twists and turns, this is usually how our holidays go too! I think it only makes the memories stronger. It looks like you got some delicious food along the way!

  16. That definitely does not look like a mistake! It looks wonderful and the food superb! 😀

  17. Kristina says:

    Looks like such a fun trip! One of my best friends lived in Ecuador for a year and had such a great experience, all your pics are so gorgeous!

    Haha and I love your horseback riding trip! I’m terrified of riding horses – terrified. Bad experience at summer camp when I was a kid…. 🙂 I was not the bravest child.

  18. Eftychia says:

    What a beautiful place to visit! The dished look so tasty! I wish I had the chance to go there too…

  19. Parsley Sage says:

    HAHAHA! You look so terrified on that horse! Bless 🙂 I’m glad you did it though. Great experience, and it looks like a fabulous holiday as well. Much deserved 🙂

  20. kale says:

    Sylvie – The cabin was a real treat! Especially when it was offered to us and we asked (obviously), “How much more will that cost?” to which the reply was, “Same cost as the normal room”. Fantastic!

    Cass – You’re right. And it was fun not to have things set in stone but just see what happened and enjoy it.

    Kristina – I am definitely losing any shred of bravery I had as a child. 🙁

    Parsley Sage – The terror is indeed undeniable.

  21. Michele says:

    Beautiful pictures! It looks like a fantastic trip.

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