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“Location but lacks”

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The Secret Garden Cotopaxi
Ranked #8 of 233 Quito B&B and Inns
Certificate of Excellence
Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Location but lacks”
Reviewed 9 March 2014

The location is spectacular. Views of Cotopaxi are breathtaking but it seemed a bit expensive and unorganized. The staff is mostly volunteer and they come and go so I empathize with them for not having a system down however, coming from the hospitality center of the world, the issues they have are easily remedied if upper management would just put a better system in place.

The food was okay with respect to portion size but for what we were paying it could have been better. I loved that tea and coffee were available 24/7 and the main lodge was cozy and the dogs were friendly.

They need better system for scheduling activities as it's running the volunteers down due to over crowding of the place. Thank god we did our research and already knew what we wanted to do otherwise we would have been a bit confused by options and costs associated with each etc.

I would have much rather scheduled that portion of our trip through a full guide service like Gulliver as trying to schedule through the Secret Garden was confusion and one of our activities didn't get booked that we were looking forward to as a good prep before attempting Cotopaxi.

Bottom line, nice place with great views and a hippie atmosphere but needs some streamlining in the service department as well as a smooth driveway and regular delivery service into Machachi.

Room Tip: Get the private cabanas, just be prepared to be overly hot upstairs once the fire is lit.
See more room tips
  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
Thank Denise S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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  • Sleep Quality
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Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (38)
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
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English first
Howard Lake, Minnesota
Level 3 Contributor
11 reviews
3 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
Reviewed 8 March 2014

This is my first review, also my first time leaving the states. My stay at secret garden cotopaxi was awesome. I wasn't expecting to have these nice little intimate meals with the other travelers and have all the food served to us. More food than you can eat and plenty of activities. I did the waterfall walk and went horseback riding up to the volcano. Definitely recommend this place.

  • Stayed February 2014
    • Value
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Helpful?
Thank BeMyTravelGuy
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Berkeley, California
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
Reviewed 5 March 2014

I don't normally write reviews, but I found myself ranting and raving about this place to absolutely everyone I met during my 3 week vacation around Ecuador.

My main goal or desire for my trip was to climb some volcanoes, specifically Cotopaxi. I didn't really have a plan and the whole concept of guides and acclimatization made me pretty nervous. The staff at the Secret Garden in Quito recommended I check out their Cotopaxi location as a perfect place to relax and set up climbs.

I originally planned on just one or two days here but ended up staying for four. I was in heaven. While the food wasn't amazing; it was still worlds better than most everything else I had during the rest of my trip. Plus, I'm a fairly strict vegan and the staff/cook went above and beyond to make accommodations for my diet. That was pretty awesome of them. I was especially fond of the quinoa and vegetable potato soup for lunch one day.

There were lots of great hikes and nature opportunities in the area too. Just get up, walk outside, and go explore by foot or bike. The waterfalls and river were beautiful and you have something like eight mountains within line of sight from the hostel. Combine that with a jacuzzi, gardens, hammocks, and all you can eat bananas. Life was awesome.

The staff set me up with Diego for a guided climb of Illiniza Norte and Cotopaxi. Everything went flawlessly and I was able to relax and recover in a super comfortable and private tent after each summit. Worth mentioning is that there is no electricity in the dorms or tent, but you have candlelight. I thought it really made the whole experience feel like a vacation. I was able to truly disconnect and unwind. I could have stayed here forever.

Thanks again Secret Garden for helping me reach my goals of summiting Cotopaxi and for such a rejuvenating vacation.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled solo
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Helpful?
1 Thank Eric H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sydney, Australia
Level 4 Contributor
43 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
Reviewed 27 February 2014

We stayed in a private cabin at Secret Garden Cotopaxi for 3 nights and left with very mixed feelings.

The location is undeniably spectacular, (if you get a clear, fog-free day, which we didn't really), near the Cotopaxi National Park, with views of 3 volcanoes, but also quite remote. We had to take a bus to Machachi, about an hour South of Quito and then a pre-arranged private 4WD taxi ($15 regardless of how many passengers) up a very bumpy unsealed road for another hour to reach the hostel.

The private cabin was cosy and atmospheric to begin with, but nowhere do they tell you that the cabins have no electricity. Which is fine in principal, but not if you have no prior warning to charge batteries etc, and if you want to read books in the evenings.
Each cabin has its own wood fire, which the staff are supposed to light for you each evening, but which didn't get done for us every night. Consequently our room was freezing cold one evening, and on the other nights, stiflingly hot with no way to vent the excess heat without letting mosquitoes into the room. Bad design that definitely needs addressing. They also don't give you enough materials to start your own fire easily, as ours had often gone out by the morning, and the room was freezing cold.

The staff were mostly made up of volunteers, who from the looks of it had been cajoled into taking on far more responsibility than they would have ever agreed to for an essentially non-paying job. They seemed at turns very stressed and/or uninformed in their roles. There were overbooking problems and organisational problems throughout our stay. The only one that affected us was the promised "free introductory trek" to a nearby waterfall that never happened. Instead we went on a $10 per person trek to the top of a 4200m extinct volcano with an untrained guide and got caught directly in the middle of a lightning storm on the return.

The hostel is full board only, there are no kitchen facilities to store, cook or make your own food, one reason for the high price. We found the meals on the whole to be fairly average, mostly made up of lots of stodgy carbs - rice, pasta, bread etc. The portions were just about filling, but if we had done more activities, we would have been left hungry. Having said that, there is always tea, coffee, bananas and drinking water available.

The saving graces of the hostel are the main building and grounds, very well kept, and we enjoyed the daily afternoon tea and cake around the fire, and wandering the grounds feeding the horses, llamas and pigs.

The management definitely needs to sort out the organisation and running of the hostel and activities, because for the price everyone pays (the dorm beds were almost the same price per person as our private cabin), I was expecting a LOT more.

Despite all this, we met some really cool fellow travellers and did enjoy our stay. But we probably wouldn't recommend the place to anyone unless the faults were addressed.

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank doddos
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
Reviewed 22 February 2014

Beautiful lodge, lovely cabanas, nice area, easy to meet other travellers but... there were some significant downfalls which mean I would not recommend this place. Totally contrary to the reviews we read before we went.
- food was budget backpacker at best, and we were starving the entire time. we had to walk 1.5 hours to another hostel to buy more food since we were so hungry. lunch was lentils with rice or veggies in soy sauce on rice, breakfast was one egg and bread one morning, one pancake the next with some fruit, and one of our dinners was hot dog on pasta. not what you expect when you're paying so much, and considering it's a base for big hikes.
- volunteers did not have good information.
- on comparison with quito and latacunga, activities here are more expensive, even though you are on the doorstep of cotopaxi
- small point, but unlike every other hostel in ecuador, tax isn't included. this adds up to quite a bit at the end.
- unless you want to read your book on the couch, expect to pay to do anything from here. in one case, this includes 10 dollars a person for a guide that doesn't speak to you on the hike.

If you do go:
- BRING FOOD
- ask fellow travelers for advice, not the volunteers
- if you are sleeping in a tent, try not to leave anything in there. Our friends stuff was soaked, and they were cold.
- one night is probably sufficient if you just want to do one hike

  • Stayed February 2014, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
2 Thank Camricha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Vancouver, Canada
2 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 20 February 2014

The location is honestly amazing, however beyond that everything fell below expectations. The staff ("volunteers") were extreemly unhelpful, the food was below budget (hotdogs over spaghetti), and everything came with hidden fees.

Only stay here if your budget is $100+ per night as the only free activity is riding bikes, which 2 of 4 had flat tires. Overall we had such high expectations which were dashed. Check out the other options in the area to avoid dissapointment, or just base in Latacunga.

Room Tip: Tents get wet, Playhouse is tiny, Cabanas are expensive
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  • Stayed February 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Sean W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Toronto, Canada
Level 3 Contributor
16 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 12 helpful votes
Reviewed 13 February 2014

This really was the most beautiful place I've stayed in Ecuador, and one of my favorite places in South America. I spent 4 nights here (after initially planning only 3) and can definitely recommend it of you are looking to get off the grid. That being said, however, the service in the place wasn't so great. You could really tell that the 'volunteers' didn't want to be there, and they were pretty disorganized (overbooking the dorm and providing only the most basic service that they are required to) But I get it... They are volunteers. The food also wasn't too amazing, and the portions were small for what you were paying. Also, if you book a tour, they pack you a 'to go' lunch of a basic sandwich (which would cost $0.50 in any restaurant, yet you're still paying the $35/day. But all that being said, I still really enjoyed my time here. The hostel itself is beautiful, and I rather enjoyed not having electricity in the dorm. Candles were provided which added to the rustic feel of the place. I would definitely come back.

  • Stayed February 2014
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
2 Thank Pishacha
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The Secret Garden Cotopaxi

Property: The Secret Garden Cotopaxi
Address: | Via El Pedregal, Quito EC170350, Ecuador
Region: Ecuador > Pichincha Province > Quito
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free Parking Restaurant Shuttle Bus service
Hotel Style:
Ranked #8 of 233 B&Bs / Inns in Quito
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Number of rooms: 12
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Katherine and Tarquin, the owners/creators of The Secret Garden Quito, have moved to the countryside where they have been building their dream home and hostel. It's spectacular mountain scenery, it's a beautiful traditional lodge made of mud bricks and thatched roof, it's an eco-friendly self sufficiency project, it's great homegrown herbs and spices,with an exquisite home style food, it's considered an adventure center and it's a relaxation center. ... more   less 
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