Near the Urubamba Valley of the Andes (the Southern Sierras,), this Peruvian city inhabits a mystical setting. As the former capital of the Inca Empire (then known as the ‘navel’ of the earth), and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the Western Hemisphere, it is rich in archaeological remains as well as Spanish colonial architecture. This has ensured its place as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many use Cusco as a launch pad for Machu Picchu trips, but it’s also well worth perusing the plazas, markets and museums, providing a colourful insight into both past and present life in Peru.
Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel, Cusco
A former monastery, this Belmond property looks over the red-tiled rooftops of the city, with 122 bedrooms and suites. A stunning symmetrical courtyard sits at the centre, its cloisters woven with walkways, flowerbeds, a fountain and a 300-year-old cedar tree – as well as one of its two restaurants (the other eatery is set within the building’s romantic arches). Or you can grab and go from the deli and enjoy canapes in the bar. The hotel offers an amazing Andean Bath Butler service, art tours (it’s home to one of the city’s finest collections of 18th-century religious artworks), cooking classes and pisco lessons.
Inkaterra La Casona
Relais and Chateaux’s Cusco property is a 16th-century Colonial mansion house, an early home to the conquistadors, that’s been sensitively restored to retain its original glory. Ideally located at the Plaza de las Nazarenas, it has just 11 beautifully appointed suites arranged around the central patio, with decor blending antiques and artefacts. Sustainability is key to the ethos at Inkaterra La Casona, with ‘zero carbon’ organic products and local suppliers that support biodiversity. Chef Rafael Casin operates an earth-to-table dining room. His cuisine respects native ingredients and cooking traditions served in atmospheric surroundings with exposed stone walls.
Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco
Soak up the five centuries of history within these four walls, positioned opposite QoriKancha (the Temple of the Sun). The building is itself a historic landmark, filled with stone archways, 195 pieces of original Hispanic art and ornate gilded antiques. Bedrooms are decorated in a traditional colonial style, ranging from doubles to one bedroom and family suites. Its Andes Spirit Spa contains the only thermal circuit in the city, with treatments using Germaine de Capuccini. Palacio del Inka has two restaurants – Inti Raymi and Rumi. And the hotel is home to some very cute, fluffy alpacas.
Hotel Aranwa Cusco Boutique
As much a museum as a hotel, this 16th-century mansion holds an impressive range of chandeliers, pillars, polished wooden and stone floors, antique furniture and in excess of 300 pieces of colonial artwork – some of which are priceless. 43 bedrooms come with an innovative intelligent oxygen system, iPod docks, DVD players, minibars, organic toiletries, bathrobes and slippers – some have wooden four poster beds and sitting rooms. Visit UNNO spa to gain a balance of mind, body and soul. Dine at the Mishti for a taste of Peru and at the Khasikay Bar for tapas and pisco based cocktails.
JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
If you want access to a swimming pool, book a room here – it’s one of the few hotels in the city to have one, alongside an experience shower, steam room and sauna. Made to impress, JW Marriott El Convento features a lobby swathed in crystals and a grand open-air courtyard. Guests can take daily guided tours of the Inca artifacts on the basement, peruse its displays of modern art and dine on Andean dishes at Pirqa (kids get a special menu designed for little ‘uns). Rooms are unique, all with plenty of tech. Some suites have a balcony or terrace and one has an original Inca Wall.