The small, family-run inn Casa de Las Rosas in Cuenca, Ecuador did not come by its name lightly. This was the home of the Tapia family from 1952 until 2008, and today is run as a six-room boutique hotel by Rosa Tapia Peña, daughter of Luis and Rosa Tapia who built the home. With both mother and daughter named Rosa, and the fact that Cuenca is the rose capital of Ecuador (exporting flowers all over the world), the name seemed appropriate.
“I was trying to find an appropriate name, for me it was important,” says Rosa Tapia Peña. “My mother was named Rosa, like me, so it was two generations of Rosas.”
Roses also feature predominantly throughout the hotel, with lovely vases in the lobby and dining/sitting rooms. When I arrived at Casa de Las Rosas and was shown to my room (The Celeste), rose petals were scattered on the bed as well as the bathroom counter, giving a very nice touch. The Celeste room was extremely spacious and comfortable, with a king-sized bed, large wardrobe, windows overlooking a quiet street and a nice bathroom.
Other rooms include Esmerelda on the ground floor, with two double beds and access to the interior garden; Naranja on the second floor, with two twin beds and originally the room of brothers Genaro and Telmo; Suite Verde offering a double bed in the larger room and one single bed in the smaller; and Suite Amarilla with rooms overlooking the courtyard and into the garden. This suite is a small independent apartment with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a wide corridor. It offers a double bed in one bedroom and a second bedroom with twin beds. It is ideal for two or three people or a family with two children. The yellow suite occupies three different areas of what was the old house; the toy room, a guest room, and the darkroom where the father developed his photos.
The last room is an Apartment Suite on the third floor, Suite El Tejado. It is the largest of guest rooms and perfect for a long-term stay, with a warm and delicate ambiance. It has two bedrooms with two bathrooms separated by a convenient corridor. It also offers a unique environment with a full living room, dining room and kitchen. The smaller room has a single bed and offers a wonderful view of the characteristic tile roofs of the historic center of Cuenca. The larger room with the double bed offers private access to a large terrace, an ideal place to rest and sunbathe in peace.
All original spaces of the mansion have been preserved while being enhanced in their new role within the modern and stylish hotel. Each room has a private bathroom, cable TV, telephone, and Wi-Fi internet.
It is a house with a story; the entire inn is filled with items and momentos from the Tapia Peña family, such as a sewing machine, books, chests, tea sets, photographs and much more. Rosa Tapia Peña says that at the time her father Luis built the house, in 1952, it was on the outskirts of the city. “But Cuenca has grown a lot since then, up around the house. We are in the middle of the city now.”
Casa de Las Rosas does offer a good location, a bit outside the hustle and bustle of tourist central, but easy walking distance to the major sites and attractions of Cuenca, only blocks away. The entire city of Cuenca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and extremely popular with both Ecuadorians and foreigners alike. Besides tourists who are just visiting, there is a large expat community of people who have found Cuenca so charming, livable and affordable that they have moved here permanently.
“I was born here,” Rosa told me one morning after breakfast, as she gazed around the renovated home with obvious affection. “My parents came here when they already had six children; I was the 12th and last child.”
This was the family home until 2008, when Luis and Mama Rosa grew elderly enough that it became hard to navigate the stairs, and they needed to live in a place easier for them. The parents initially wanted to sell the house, but daughter Rosa rejected that idea. “To me, it was important to keep it, to have it,” she says. She and her husband, who live in Italy, bought the house from her parents in 2011 and spent a year lovingly restoring it, to be both updated and modern while still retaining the original footprint and character of the home. “We tried to keep it like it was; these are the same areas we used. I used to play here,” she says of the sitting area where we are talking.
Casa de Las Rosas then opened as a hotel one year ago today, in July 2012. This weekend brings the inn’s one year anniversary, and the entire family is celebrating with a special inauguration. Rosa and her family from Italy are in Cuenca, along with all of her 11 siblings and their families from all over the world – one resides in the United States and another in Belgium. “It is a very special day for us.” Feliz primer aniversario!
The rates at Casa de Las Rosas range from $60 to $140 USD for two people; with three or four people, the rates are $110-160. All rates include a delicious, extensive breakfast spread.
Location: Manuel Vega 12-57, just off Sangurima at Vega Muñoz
Telephone: 072 82 44 93
Photos by Keith Hajovsky