Hotel Victoria, a touch of class

21/Noviembre/2011 | 15:54


Very few things in Cuenca are new, which gives the city part of its charm.  Many things in Cuenca, however, have been renewed, remodeled, refurbished, or restored, giving them a new use and a new life.  Eight years ago, following ten years of restoration, the brick house on Calle Large Street at the intersection of Borrero became one of the first traditional houses of the city to become a hotel.

Without even seeing it, the name Hotel Victoria conjures up images of class and elegance, which is perhaps why the name was selected.  Manager Daniel Duran says, "This is a colonial house, part of the architectural heritage of the city of Cuenca.  It is more than a hundred years old.  Many important families have lived here."  The hotel is part of the history of Cuenca and Duran says it was important to communicate that in the design and reconstruction.

"My father bought the house and reconstructed it in its totality, respecting its original form.  All of the lamps, pictures, woodwork, flooring - All is made in Cuenca…the designs are unique here; they are created especially for the hotel.  You will not find them anywhere else.  This, I believe, gives identity."

Identity is perhaps what concerns Duran most of all.  "Cultural identity is difficult.  We have seen examples in many parts of the world where much has been lost."  Ultimately, this is not what he wants for Victoria.  "In the beginning we thought of making a French style or Italian style hotel, but you can get that in France or Italy or somewhere else."  Duran wanted to make Victoria what it is – a part of Cuenca.

  The success of Hotel Victoria rests not only in respecting the identity of this magnificent old house, but in offering an establishment that places an emphasis on service and quality, which translates to an experience hard to duplicate elsewhere.  "The idea is that you come to this place to feel as if you are at home.  This is not a grand hotel.  The whole world knows you here.  If you need any kind of assistance or information, we give it to you.  This is a calm environment, almost family like.  This is like being at home, though you are far from home."

And to emphasize the feeling of familiarity, the Duran family added one more touch that would attract the local people of Cuenca as much as the international guests.  The Hotel Victoria is  home to one of Cuenca's oldest and best known restaurants, El Jardin, or The Garden.

"El Jardin has 30 years of service in Cuenca.  It has been one of the iconic restaurants of the city.  We maintain the same ambiance [as before]."   El Jardin helps to give Victoria a touch of class through its decor and the feeling of arriving to an oasis in the middle of what has become a fairly bustling city.

The menu at El Jardin is simple but elegant, printed on a single sheet of  hand calligraphy parchment. 

Starters at El Jardin range from fresh fruit to ceviche to heart of palm salad or one of four different soups, including a soup of the day.    The specialty of the house is "Langostinos El Jardin," or El Jardin Prawns.   Duran says, "These are huge prawns that come five or six to the pound.  We open them, put a little salt, paprika, put them on the lower grill.  Then we put our own sauce of butter, oregano, mustard, and white wine.  If you prefer, we also have beef, fish, shrimp, chicken, something for every taste.  And we have vegetarian plates, pastas and salads."

It is a menu and a cuisine of international standards, but without high, international prices. "You can eat for $25-30 easily, including a glass of wine."

Together, Victoria Hotel and El Jardin combine to add a little more charm to a city that could never have too much of it.

Hotel Victoria is located on Calle Large 6-93 and Borrero.  The parking lot is accessed by way of the Paseo 3 de noviembre along the river.   Overnight rates run from $71 to $128.  Visit their website at

At El Jardin, appetizers average  $4,  main dishes  are $8 (except the prawns, which are $19), and desserts are $3.  Taxes and service are additional.  For reservations or more information call 07-282-7401.  El Jardin  is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Visit them at