La Ronda is just around the corner

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Renter's review of 2br/1brm La Ronda monthly rental in Quito. March 2014.

I want to offer a review of the 2br apartment featured here, for the benefit of potential future tenants. I will be as honest as I can, covering both the positives and negatives (mostly positives). For reference, I stayed there for two months, beginning early January 2014.

The Location – La Ronda
An important point about the apartment is that it is near La Ronda, which is a restored street of colonial buildings – the street is narrow and cobble-stoned and the buildings are beautiful. When I say 'near' I mean it – it's only a few dozen steps to Plaza Cumanda, which is at one end of La Ronda.
La Ronda (aka Calle Morales) was apparently quite dilapidated (and even dangerous) a few years ago, but the city has put a lot of effort into restoring it, and it is very nicely done. Police are quite visible and the street and surrounding area seem to me totally safe.

The street was developed to be a tourist area, and therefore many of the shops are over-priced. If you're looking for bargains, there are better places (Liliya can point them out to you); but nonetheless I enjoyed wandering up and down La Ronda, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, when it was packed with people. It's mostly a younger crowd, but also many families. Though aimed at tourists, the street attracts a great many locals (especially young adults). There are a lot of live music spots and numerous street performers (I loved the pretty girls dancing to Andean music in traditional dresses). These performances are free, but I usually threw a bit of money into the hat when it was passed around.

There are many restaurants in La Ronda, and the food was good, but the prices are (again) high, by local standards.

The Location – Qmanda
While I was living there, in late January, the city opened a new 'urban parque' called Qmanda just around the corner from the apartment. (La Ronda is a right turn at the bottom of the street, Qmanda is a left turn). What they have done is gut what used to be the Cumanda bus terminal and rebuild it as a cultural and sports facility.
I understand that the old bus terminal was pretty crummy and dangerous, so I suppose this is the next step in upgrading the neighborhood. It is very well done and I was quite impressed by it.
What I liked the best, since I enjoy working out several times a week, is that the facility includes a very well-equipped fitness center – they have dozens of treadmills, stationary bikes, etc, as well as plenty of weights. The charge is only a dollar or two an hour (try to get that price at a similarly-equipped gym).

The Location – Centro Historico
The apartment is in the colonial section of Quito (locally called Centro Historico). This is the area the UN has declared a cultural treasure, and it really is. The area is beautiful, with relatively few modern buildings. The apartment has a small balcony from which you can see the hill called El Panecillo, which is topped by a statue called La Virgen de Quito. A few minutes' walk will take you to Plaza Santo Domingo, with a 17th century church (beautiful at night when its towers are illuminated). Another five minutes of walking will take you to Plaza Grande (aka Plaza Independencia), which is the center of the city – here is the Cathedral and the Presidential Palace. A hundred yards (or meters) of the plaza is another church, Iglesia La Compania de Jesus (the Jesuit church) and another hundred yards past that is Iglesia San Francisco de Quito (the Franciscans). All these buildings are centuries old and absolute must-sees. La Compania may be the most magnificent building I've ever seen.

A Few Words about Noise
I'm pretty easy-going about noise during the daytime, or actually at any time except when I'm trying to sleep. This apartment is, as noted, very close to La Ronda, a popular entertainment district, with plenty of live music and dancing. On Friday and Saturday nights especially, the music can be heard in the apartment. I loved it – I would often open the door on the balcony so that I could hear it better. Others might feel differently, of course.
The street music cuts off promptly at 11pm (I suppose the cops shut down the street performances), so it was no problem for me as far as sleeping was concerned. After 11, the noise from the street is minimal.

There are also events at Qmanda that can be noisy (music, PA system, etc), but these are in the daytime.
Ecuadorians seem to love car alarms, which are highly sensitive and go off if anyone sneezes near the car. This can be annoying at times, but it's not unique to this area – the same is true throughout Quito (and probably elsewhere).
On one occasion, another tenant in the building had a party with very loud music that went on until 4:30am (!) – very annoying and very inconsiderate, in my opinion. Unfortunately, there are rude people everywhere. This only happened once, though, in the two months I was there.

A Note for the Elderly or People in Poor Health
While I am recommending this apartment for most people, I feel I have to advise anyone much older than myself (I'm in my late sixties) and/or people who are not fit and healthy, that the street the apartment is located on is very steep and for the first few days there the climb had my legs hurting and made me pant for air by the time I got to the top. In addition, the apartment is on the fourth floor of the building (I counted sixty-five steps). I got used to both the hill and the stairs after a week or two, but I work out regularly and am, thankfully, in good health. But even after a couple weeks, the climbs were still tiring. If you have health issues, you might find the place wearing.
An added note: If you have health issues, especially respiratory, you should probably discuss a Quito visit or move with your doctor, regardless of where in Quito you're planning to move – the altitude could be a serious issue for you.

The Apartment
Finally, about the apartment itself: I loved it.
It is very roomy. I don't know what the square footage is, but trust me, up to three people could stay here quite comfortably, without getting on each others' nerves. The combo living room/dining room has plenty of space and the sofa is comfortable (that's where I spent most of my time when at home). There's a TV with cable and DVD (most of the channels are in Spanish, of course). I'm not much into TV or movies, so I only used it for a couple of NFL playoff games. The dining room table is large enough probably for six, though I seldom used it.
The kitchen is not huge, but I imagine two people could work on a meal there without getting in each others' way. The kitchen has all the appliances you would expect or need (no microwave, though). Off the kitchen is a small semi-enclosed patio with a washing machine. No dryer, but enough clothesline for my clothes (might have to get creative in using the line space for more people). My clothes dried in a day (two days sometimes for heavier items, like jeans) even though I was there in rainy season.

The bathroom is … well, it's a bathroom. Not much to say about it. I like to take longish showers, and the hot water never ran out for me.

Both bedrooms are large, and the bed in the master quite comfortable (the mattress is a bit hard, which is the way I like them). The single bedroom is on the street side, so it might get a bit more street noise.

The apartment is fully equipped with all dishes, glasses, bedding, towels – really, everything you need to get along. It's perfect for a new arrival who needs a place to stay while getting oriented to the city, or if you are just coming for an extended vacation and want to stay in Centro Historico.

An added benefit is that Liliya (the owner) is a pleasant, helpful person, who is willing to give advice which will help you get settled. In addition, unless you are are adept in Spanish, it is good to be working with a landlord who speaks English. After two months here (and several weeks in a language school), I'm able to get along in Spanish. But when I arrived, with only the remnants of my high school Spanish, it would have been very difficult to try to deal with a Spanish-speaking property owner.

In short, I recommend this apartment, with the few caveats I noted above, about the steep hill and the stairs.

Bob from Chicago, Illinois.

Monthly rental in Quito, for tourists and expats.
We have a 2 bedroom, 1 bath totally remodeled
Colonial Quito, furnished apartment for rent. 
For booking, pictures and more info  

Rental in Quito, for tourists and expats.
3 bedroom, 1 bath remodeled
Colonial Quito, furnished apartment for rent.
For booking, pictures and more info