Far away from the hustle and bustle of Ecuador’s big cities, Hacienda Cusin is a step back in time. Colonial architecture, period antiques and fine dining reward visitors with a unique glimpse into Ecuador’s history. Surrounded by the picturesque Imbabura countryside, Hacienda Cusin is a Spanish era hacienda with deep roots in local culture and tradition. It’s also the perfect base for exploring nearby Otavalo town, San Pablo Lake, and Imbabura Volcano.
Keep reading to learn more about Hacienda Cusin and it’s fascinating history, the services that they provide, and how to visit the best places nearby.
The story begins all the way back in Spanish colonial times. In 1602 the Luna family bought the land from King Philip III of Spain, and established a large sheep farm. The expanse of hacienda back in those days encompassed everything in the two valleys and down to San Pablo lake, 50,000 hectares in total. The name Cusin was taken from the eponymous mountain at the head of the valley.
Over the centuries the operating sheep farm and wool business was highly successful. The hacienda was also used as an overnight accommodation for friends or family to visit on weekends from Quito which was an arduous two day horse ride away. Cusin was therefore already establishing a reputation for warm hospitality.
This pattern continued through the centuries until the year 1945, when local land reforms led to 90% of Hacienda Cusin’s land being divided and redistributed among locals. The owner at the time converted the old grain storerooms into the main house we see today.
The modern history of hacienda Cusin began in 1990 when current owner, Nicholas Millhouse, purchased the property. He has since poured years of loving dedication into restoration and reconstruction, resulting in the stunning hacienda that exists today.
Friendly and long-serving staff members come mostly from the local community, from receptionists to cleaners, waiters and gardening staff. They are warmly known as the Cusin Family, and are more than happy to share their experiences and knowledge with guests.
Today Hacienda Cusin offers a unique step back into colonial life, of olde worlde charm & elegance. It has the antiquated ambiance of a museum with hidden relics awaiting discovery, bringing the vibrancy of Ecuadorian culture to life through the hallways of its past. Close your eyes and it does not take much imagination to whisk you back through the centuries to times long forgotten.
Keep reading to learn what to expect on an overnight visit to Hacienda Cusin.
At Hacienda Cusin every room is different, and furnished with fine antiques and local crafts. A variety of room types are available, spread across the main hacienda building, the Monestary and a selection of secluded garden cottages (wonderfully converted stables). You might also consider a splurge on one of the popular and spacious owner suites.
Common areas offer the welcome of a roaring fire and comfy chairs, giving a cosy feel to open spaces. The hanging tapestries and historic artwork constantly reminds you that you are sharing a part of history.
Hacienda Cusin’s expansive complex of rooms, grounds, and gardens lead way to game rooms, working stables, water features, and hidden nooks and crannies. Separate wings and suites allow for privacy, giving groups and families the space to gather, away from the common areas.
As an extra touch, hot water bottles can be requested to keep you snug and warm on chilly nights.
Exploring Hacienda Cusin’s 5 acres of perennial gardens is a delight, where ancient trees have seen the comings and goings of history, and colorful flower beds attract hungry hummingbirds and butterflies.
Against the breathtaking backdrop of towering Imbabura Volcano, enjoy strolling the winding paths of bougainvillaea, jasmine, agapanthus, hydrangeas, begonias, poppies, geraniums, dahlias, primroses, orchids, magnolia, Aztec lilies and much more.
You could also try your hand at bird watching, with over 50 species sighted within the hacienda grounds, including vermilion flycatchers, fan-tailed hawks, owls, and the eye-catching northern yellow grosbeak.
Away from the main buildings, the Monastery complex hosts weddings on weekends and conferences during the week. This independent wing functions as a separate space complete with its own living, dining and cooking areas. The maze of courtyards opens into secluded spaces with expansive murals and intricate altars, taking guests back to the time where the Catholic Church was the center of art, literature, and philosophy.
Hacienda Cusin restaurant provides delicious home style cooking, hearty and healthy, all served in the splendid dining room. Greens are sourced from the hacienda organic vegetable garden and orchards, including local Ecuadorian fruits for you to try such as tree tomato, chirimoya and babaco.
The menu is a mix of local specialties that innovatively combine traditional Ecuadorian recipes into a fusion of flavor; one course seemingly out doing the other at the will of the chef. For those with special diet considerations, an a la carte menu offers familiar favorites for the whole family.
The hacienda itself offers various activities such as mountain bike rental to take you to nearby lakes and waterfalls, or horse-riding which is a highly recommended experience.
Kids can also visit the stables or farm to see the guinea pigs, rabbits or feed a carrot to the Hacienda Cusin horses.
For a more cultural experience, Spanish lessons or Andean cooking classes can also be organised.
Beyond the confines of the hacienda, there is so much more to do and see in Imbabura Province! Some fun options that Happy Gringo can help you to organise include:
• Otavalo day tours with flexible itineraries that can include visits to famous Otavalo handicraft Market, Mojanda Lake and Fuya Fuya Mountain, Cuicocha Crater Lake and Cotocachi town, Parque Condor bird or prey refuge, Peguche Waterfall and more.
• 3 day mini tours to explore the region further, such as Otavalo & The Liberty Train, or Ecuador Historic Haciendas with overnight stays included at both Hacienda Cusin and Hacienda La Cienega close to Cotopaxi National Park.
• Real history buffs will love our longer 8day Bygone days and cultural treasures tour to immerse yourself into the history and culture of Ecuador.
We also specialize in custom-made trips for solo travellers, couples, families or groups, and can tailor make a unique itinerary just for you, of course including a stay at Hacienda Cusin.
Distance from Hacienda Cusin to Quito: the hacienda is just over an hour drive from Mariscal Sucre International Airport, and 90 minutes from Quito city. Otavalo town is a short fifteen minute car journey in the other direction. Happy Gringo can help you to organise private transport if required.
Check-in time: 2pm
The Hacienda Cusin experience is not one to be rushed. We highly recommend that visitors factor in at least a couple of hours of free time to explore the hacienda, grounds and gardens.
As an alternative to Hacienda Cusin why not also check out Hacienda Zuleta, another luxurious hacienda experience in the northern Andes with community activities included.
For more information about visiting Hacienda Cusin or the Otavalo area with Happy Gringo, just contact a member of our team.
In conclusion, Hacienda Cusin is not just a place to lay your head for the night, rather it is an experience in itself. Treat yourself to free time to explore the main house, monestary and gardens. Take a breather to examine the antiques and fine details all around, or curl up with a book in front of an open fire. Appreciate the warm hospitality of the locals who put so much energy into each guest stay. Even better stay a couple of nights with time to explore the nearby hills and valleys on a horse from the hacienda stables. This is truly a magical place in Ecuador’s northern Andes!