I arrived back in Lima to the most amazing surprise: sunshine, and a new appreciation for what the city had to offer.
My first visit back in October had been blanketed in thick fog. Returning for the last week of November, the city was approaching its short but highly anticipated summer season, where blue skies and sun occasionally peek through and Limeños start hitting the beach in droves.
I didn’t have much planned for this round in Lima. Anders was lapping up his last few days with his friends before they shipped back to Sweden, and I was mostly focused on squeezing two weeks of work into one as our next destination, the jungle, would have limited internet access. So mostly I just enjoyed the company of my laptop, breaking occasionally to jog along the coastline, admire the city’s street art, and stuff myself silly.
Yup, Lima has good food. That’s no secret. And I enjoyed pretty much every meal I inhaled in Lima, from the humble yet delicious sandwiches of La Lucha to the indulgent and creative dishes of Amaz (my one tip-toe into Lima’s high end dining scene during a meeting with the PR director of Aqua Expeditions) to the beautifully presented waffles of Sofa Cafe.
On Thanksgiving Day we splurged to do one big activity. We had been dying to dive with sea lions but couldn’t find a trip for less than $250USD, which was just ridiculous. We did manage to find a tour that included swimming with the sea lions for around $50USD, which was still steep but we decided to splurge. As the boat approached the thousands of sea lions and we heard the thunderous roar of their barks, and the guide told us not to be surprised if they licked our feet, I was actually terrified to get in the water. Thank god for stubborn pride or I would have stayed on the boat that day.
When we got in the water the visibility was awful and we were so glad we hadn’t forked over two hundred more big ones to dive, especially considering the sea lions were being especially shy that day according to our guide. Still, Anders and I were both shooting amazing footage of the experience with our GoPros and I was so excited to share it with you guys — you wouldn’t believe the noises those sea lions were making, or how adorable they were when they chased the boat with their headed popping up in the wake behind us! But in a tragic accident we both lost our footage and combined with a ridiculously stupid mistake that ended in me losing a huge amount of cash, I have pretty unpleasant memories of this day now.
Let’s just move along then, shall we?
After what will hereto be referred to as the Sad Sea Lion Day That Shall Not be Mentioned, I resolved to stay indoors for the rest of my time in Lima. And lucky me, because that evening we checked into Hotel B, the first true boutique hotel in Lima. It was love at first welcome-glass-of-champagne.
Hotel B is located in Barranco, my favorite area of Lima for its distinctly bohemian chic vibe. The hotel is blocks from both the ocean and the city’s most lively restaurant, bar, and gallery scene. Personally, though, I had a hard time leaving the confines of the converted colonial home. Wouldn’t you?
Original art lines the walls of the hallways, sitting rooms, and suites of Hotel B. In fact, the hotel is connected to the renown Lucia de la Puente Gallery next door. I loved wandering into newly discovered alcoves of the property and finding inspiring works by Peruvian artists.
My atelier suite, one of just seventeen rooms, was heavenly. While small, there was style in every centimeter. And with a balcony half the size of the room, I was spoiled for choice of places to sit and write.
I think what differentiates a boutique hotel from a big luxury chain is often the details. Little bonuses like a complimentary minibar, artisanal bath products including a gift of room spray to take home, and a poem and a chocolate placed on the pillow every night at turn down make a huge impact. I also loved clever details like the black ties used to indicate “do not disturb” to housekeeping.
And did I mention the food? I still occasionally dream about the breakfast spread at Hotel B, which included homemade bread, real honey and an array of cheeses that almost put Anders into a happiness coma. On our final morning we had to depart for the airport before 6am, and though breakfast didn’t officially start for another hour they prepared something just for us.
Every afternoon, a classic tea service was put out that included a drool-inducing tower of mini desserts. Um, guys? Why did I not know about macaroons before? I mean, I knew they existed, but why did I not know that I loved them? I basically counted down the hours every day until 4pm so I could run down to the library and devour macaroons.
Hotel B’s actual restaurant was almost trendy enough to be intimidating, and was absolutely packed with Lima’s most fabulous and beautiful all weekend long. We did manage to elbow our way to a table one evening and it was worth it for the contact cool we received from being around the other winers and diners.
I left Lima with a new appreciation for the city that I didn’t have after my first visit. From a backpacker’s perspective, Lima admittedly might not be the world’s greatest city. But from a design-and-food-lover’s point of view, it’s a destination that is getting so hot it might just spontaneously combust. My recommendation? Get there before the fire. Go in the summer, book a room at Hotel B, make a reservation at Amaz, and spend your days eating and museum and gallery hopping (my favorites were MATE Gallery and a night tour of Museo Larco). You might just find yourself, like me, a Lima convert.
Many thanks to Hotel B for their generous hospitality. I was a guest of the hotel in order to promote them on this site and through my freelancing outlets. As always, you receive my thorough and honest opinions regardless of who is footing the bill.