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.

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