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.
What stunning photos of both Lima and that fabulous Hotel B! I am ready to go there. Someday, maybe.
I think you’d like it… and flights are cheap from Florida!
that hotel looks great- i’ve also never had a macaroon, i’ll have to give it a try. What happened with your footage? Hopefully you didn’t lose your go pro!
It was two very stupid mistakes — what an awful coincidence! After I lost my footage I was gutted and then we were standing there with Anders’ GoPro right before we went diving a few weeks later and he realized he didn’t have any space left. Thinking he has already copied everything over, he wiped the card only to realize later that the sea lion footage was the ONLY event that somehow didn’t copy over to his iMovie. Devastating!
Ouch! For future reference, if you ‘wipe’ your card the data isn’t really deleted yet and there are ways to get it back using various tools. Once the specific areas on the card are overwritten with new data then you’ll lose the old one for sure.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your experiences. Have you found the best Pisco Sours yet? I’ll be heading to Peru come June and I’m using your posts to build a rough itinerary 🙂
Yeah, we were saying we wished we were computer smarties because while we knew that there were methods for doing things like that… we’d have no idea where to start 🙂
I enjoyed the pisco sour I made myself during my lesson in Lima! It’s good value, you should check it out. Enjoy Peru, Alvin!
Oh, swimming with sea lions! I must! And man, that place looks so fun and beautiful. You lucky lucky girl! Another for the list. 😉
No complaints here 🙂
OMG love these pics even if you lost the other footage. Sorry to hear about that day that shall not be mentioned! Is it too annoying to say, those kinds of things can happen to any/everyone? Trek onward! And report back to your readers! 🙂
Everybody has bad days indeed! I think they feel more amplified when you are traveling because you don’t have your normal creature comforts to “even you out,” so to speak. The lows are lower and the highs are higher…. ah, traveling!
thanks for sharing the more stylish side of peru, alex. cutting edge design & food are not things i normally associate with the country but there’s obviously some hipness to be had!
Indeed! I find most cities have a happening side… some you just have to search a little harder for!
Ahh that breakfast and tea spread looks heavenly! Definitely something to stick around the hotel for. Just so you know, a “macaroon” is a coconut confection often found in Jewish cuisine, whereas a “macaron” is the scrumptious French meringue-type cookie pictured above. I made the same mistake before and when I visited Paris I got schooled 😉 They are so delicious though!!
Ha, the more you know! Thanks for the heads up 🙂
Hey alex! i have just caught up on the last 4 months of your blog i moved back from Bali to England and have been so busy but im glad im all caugh up again now! i have to say some of your most beautiful photos yet 🙂 still reading and enjoying.
Thanks so much Carla! Very glad to have you back 🙂
Gah! What is it with South America beckoning rookie mistakes?! My camera battery died at the beginning of my daytrip through Iguazu Falls, the most spectacular place of natural beauty I’ve ever been, and I didn’t bring my perfectly suitable backup because….no reason. UGH.
Sorry about your footage misfortunes. It is so, so frustrating.
That hotel looks swanky! And I’m glad to hear Lima is capable of having nice weather.
Oh, that hurts my heart to hear, Laryssa! Such an awful feeling. I am so bad about recharging batteries which is kind of hilarious as it consists of PLUGGING SOMETHING INTO THE WALL!
Well, I was supposed to land in Lima about now, but my flight has been delayed, so reading this is a bit of a teaser. I just can’t wait to explore the city!
Bummer, Tammy! I’ve been reading about a LOT of flight delays on my Facebook feed.
I think as travelers we put a high premium on first times and first impressions, but it’s been my experience that first is rarely best and we shouldn’t be too quick to judge a place. There have been quite a few places we’ve been to during our travels that didn’t impress me much at first glance or visit, but upon subsequent returns, I found myself enjoying them a lot more (Kuala Lumpur is a great example of this, actually). There are so many little things that can influence our impressions of a place, from the weather to the place that we’re staying, that really have very little to do with the place itself, so these days whenever I find myself underwhelmed by some place, I try to remind myself that it may have just been an unlucky travel moment and second time around might greatly improve things. I’m glad you got to see a bit of Lima that you really enjoyed (and finally tried macarons!).
Completely! I’m always shocked when I hear people say they didn’t enjoy [insert random place I loved here] but then I’ll hear that they had horrible weather, or they got scammed, or their pet ferret died while they were there or whatever. It is impossible to separate circumstance from place, it seems, and so I try to be very careful when speaking negatively of a place — I never want to discourage someone from checking it out themselves!
I can imagine Lima felt completely different with a bit of sunshine! I actually walked past that place you stayed a couple of times, but never noticed it was a hotel. I even popped in to the gallery next door, which was nice.
It was AMAZING in the sun! I went for a run one day and there were blue skies everywhere and the thought popped into my head, “I could live here.” What a difference a little vitamin D makes!
I am so staying at Hotel B when I go to Lima. I love boutique style hotels!
Me too, and I was lucky to stay in some amazing ones in Peru! They have quite the array 🙂
Alex will you be able to work up the courage to tell us about Sad Sea Lion Day by the monthly round up time? Please! Also, how can there be an abundance of sea lions and no sharks? I thought that was scientifically impossible.
I did as well and questioned the lack of sharks to several Peruvians who vehemently denied their existence in the country! Apparently due to currents or temperatures or whatever, there are NO sharks in Peru! One of the reasons surfers love it, I guess!
I was just in Lima in August and confirmed my impression from a previous visit – like you, I am not that excited by the usual grey weather, and I don’t think there’s a whole lot to do there. But damn, can you ever eat well! We went to Amaz as well, and it was actually the “worst” meal we had because everything else was just so stellar.
Wow! If Amaz was at the bottom of the list I’d love to see what was at the top! I think the best thing about Amaz was that someone else did all the ordering… someone very wise 🙂
I missed this post when it came out. I had no idea Lima was perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific. Loved the hotel reviews.
Indeed! It’s a very scenic city… on those rare instances the sun shines!
I. Want. Waffles. I’ve heard about Lima’s foodie reputation.
It is spectacular! Seriously, you’ve got to come to Lima on an empty stomach…
Hi! Just found your blog while searching for information about Peru. What company did you use for the sea lion boat you took? I’m going to Peru in a couple of weeks and there doesn’t seem to be a ton of info about the companies I’m seeing online. Thanks in advance!
Hey Becky! We actually booked it through the hostel we were staying at so I don’t have any of the info! Honestly I would go for the one in the Ballestas Islands over this one if you have the choice. If you’re only in Lima though this one might be worth a go. Sorry I can’t be of more help!
Thanks for the response! I saw you’re from the Albany area as I was looking through the site. I’m from Bethlehem! Looking forward to looking through some more of your blog!
That’s awesome Becky! Upstate pride 🙂
Thanks great tip!! loved that hotel!! but have to try next time in Peru the Casa Cartagena in Cusco which I found the version of the hotel B but in Cusco!!
I like the sounds of that! Hotel B was one of my favorite hotels… ever! I’m definitely going to have to look into Casa Cartegena…