Ecuador is known for its volcanoes, but a hotel that sits right next to one? No one I talked to had heard of it.
Not only does El Cráter offer large suites with whitewashed stone interiors, igloo-style domed skylights, and big heavy wooden doors reminiscent of an old (well maybe renovated) monastery, the place is situated right on the edge of what I’m told is the only inhabited crater in the world. Venturing 30 minutes outside Quito for the night was nice enough, but a view of the active Pululahua Volcano from my bed was another story.
When the cab pulled into the property, the area was cloaked in the thick fog that’s common to the highlands during evening: no volcano visible. But sure enough, when the sun shone through the wall-length window the next morning, the deep green peak and patchwork caldera beneath it came into focus. Good morning!
If that’s not enough volcano for you, the restaurant was built by hand from lava rock and serves crater-themed specialties, such as a tower of ham and cheese atop a grilled steak. A spa is being constructed, which will probably add some volcanic ash to the mix, and hiking trails take you all the way to the pyramid’s lid. But don’t expect any flowing lava or smoke: the volcano hasn’t erupted in 1,500 years.
El Cráter, Mirador del Pululahua, Quito, From $70, 593/ (0) 2-2439254, elcrater.com
Have you every stayed in or near a crater? If not, what was your most memorable themed lodging?