Brownie the Rabbit lives!
I was astounded to find that Brownie, the big black rabbit who acts as unofficial mascot at Hostal de la Rabida in Quito, Ecuador, was still alive five years after my last visit to the quaint, comfortable pensionne and eight years after I first met the friendly pet.
Brownie lives in the lush courtyard tucked inside the 11-room hotel, occasionally hopping across the lobby to greet new guests or take advantage of a room door that’s left open and inviting him to investigate.
The rabbit is just one of the charms of la Rabida. The Italian owners in 1994 transformed the former private home on a quiet residential street into a comfortable, gracious small hotel. The whitewashed building sits on a quiet residential street in the New City, just a few blocks from the bustling Mariscal Sucre restaurant/bar/disco neighborhood and is a great alternative to the large, anonymous, bland high-rise US chain hotels in the area.
La Rabida’s front door opens from a walled, shaded courtyard to a sunny sitting room with a fireplace ringed by a soft, enveloping couch and chairs. The check-in and concierge desk are discretely located behind antique furniture just next to the front door. The adjacent room is a small but well-stocked bar that doubles as a library and reading room. The wine list leans toward Chilean, Argentine and, reflecting the inn’s ownership, Italian.
The two-room restaurant that opens onto the interior courtyard serves an adequate light breakfast and a dinner menu that focuses on a few Ecuadorean dishes and Italian offerings that locals consider some of the best in the northern part of Quito.
Most of the guest rooms ring the courtyard on the ground floor or second floor. One main-level room comes with its own sunny atrium just off the lobby while two of the five upstairs rooms have large balconies overlooking the front entryway courtyard.
The rooms, some quite small but comfortable, are furnished with twin or queen beds covered in a lot of floral fabric. Large armoires, upholstered chairs and a writing table/desk fill out the rooms. The bright white-tiled bathrooms have an improved supply of hot water and stronger water pressure than I experienced five years ago. The tap water still should not be used for drinking. La Rabida provides bottled water for drinks and brushing teeth.
As in most of Andean South America, the rooms have a lack of adequate lighting, so pack a book light or headlamp for reading.
The Spanish- and English-speaking staff always recommends taking a taxi, even to the restaurants a few blocks away. We felt quite safe walking around for hours in the daylight, but a cab and common sense should be used at night just as you would in the popular or tourist areas of any large city.
Details about Hostal de la Rabida can be found at www.hostalrabida.com.