Belmond Hotel Monasterio
Calle Palacio 136, Plazoleta Nazarenas, Cusco
Even if you’re not in Cusco preparing for the journey up to Machu Picchu, this beautiful, cobbled city is well worth the visit. The Belmond Hotel Monasterio, a former monastery and now national monument—built in 1592 on the site of an Inca palace—turned luxury hotel brimming with character is, without question the most atmospherically beautiful spot to room in Cusco. The candlelit, cloistered courtyard is perfect for a pre-dinner pisco sour or morning coffee surrounded by trees. Be sure to wander into the restored Baroque chapel as you make your way to one of the hotel's two excellent restaurants nestled in the cloisters (Illariy is the Peruvian fine-dining option, while the more laid-back El Tupay hosts live opera a few nights a week). Besides visiting Machu Picchu, the hotel can arrange any number of activities, from white water rafting to cooking classes (Peru is a hotbed of culinary activity, after all). An additional draw is the live oxygen pumped into each room, a godsend for those adjusting to the altitude.
Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
Plaza Nazarenas 144, Cusco
This brand-spanking new, Belmond-owned hotel in Cusco can proudly say it has the only outdoor swimming pool in all the land (heated, of course) and, with the building having been so beautifully restored from the Colonial palace and convent it once was, you can relax in luxury. Private butlers are available at the touch of a button through each room's souped-up iPad. Those suffering from altitude sickness (Cusco soars a head-spinning 11,152 feet above sea level) can request their rooms be pumped with extra oxygen or gently scented with Andean flowers and herbs which are believed to wield healing powers. The property is walking distance to the main square of the city, which is rife with up-and-coming restaurants, museums, and inviting little shops.
Prolongacion Calle Arica S/N, Puerto Malabrigo
While the hotel isn't necessarily one to write home about (it's modest, comfortable, welcoming) the wave out front—the world's longest at 2.2km—is. In fact, if you know what you're doing, you can surf it for about two-and-a-half-minutes. Meanwhile, the hotel offers pools, a spa to mitigate any wipeouts, and an on-site restaurant. And most importantly, it's staffed by surfers who can provide pointers on exactly where to go (the general manager, Miguel Vegas, won a national championship in 1995).
Inkaterra La Casona
Plaza Las Nazarenas 113, Cusco
If you're looking for a serene spot to gather your thoughts before climbing Machu Picchu, hiking Sacred Valley, or from which to explore historic Cusco, look no further than Inkaterra La Casona (it's built on ancient Inca training grounds, after all). It's a Relais & Châteaux hotel (the first in Peru), so even though it’s housed in a 16th century mansion, the five-star amenities—heated floors, an eco-conscious Yaku spa—are plentiful. The 11 guest rooms are strategically placed overlooking a private courtyard and done up in traditional Peruvian style (Colonial furnishings, handwoven tapestries). The house restaurant serves up traditional Peruvian delicacies and delicious breads. For breakfast, the eggs Benedict are made to order and the staff will gladly pack a to-go picnic if a day of sightseeing is on the agenda.
Sol y Luna
Fundo Huincho lote A-5, Urubamba, Cusco
Right in the middle of the breathtaking Sacred Valley of the Incas lies the Sol y Luna lodge, a collection of color-happy luxury casitas spread out over beautiful gardens peppered with exquisite flowerbeds. We’re told this is the ideal base from which to go riding (on Peruvian Paso horses from the hotel's own stables), river rafting, trekking, or just simply wandering around the endless Inca ruins and villages dotted about. The Killa Wasi restaurant specializes in authentic Peruvian cuisine reimagined by Executive Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffin using only the freshest, tastiest locally sourced ingredients.
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