In my last Peru hostel roundup I covered places to bunk down in Iquitos, Lima, and Huacachina. This edition focuses one just one city, that epicenter of Peruvian tourism that is Cusco. Here, all the major hostel brands vie for attention alongside small, one-off competitors. The upside? There’s plenty to choose from. The downside? It’s hard to know which place will be perfect for you. In my time in the city I stayed at three very different hostels and got a good feel for the city’s budget accommodation scene.
When Lonely Planet used the word “hipster” in its description of Mama Simona, I had a pretty good feeling I would fall for the place. Tucked away in the San Pedro neighborhood of Cusco, Mama Simona sometimes feels more boutique hotel than hostel.
This is not a hostel for the party crowd — here, a bar is notably absent and replaced with a calming and friendly — and yes, a hint of hipster — atmosphere. The common areas and homey and cosy, and you’ll often find guests snuggled into bean bags exchanging travel tips or browsing through the better-than-most book exchange.
The dorms are undoubtedly the nicest I have seen anywhere in the world, with pine bedframes and custom-built lockers to match, topped with fluffy patterned duvets. Private rooms are spacious and equally charming. My only complaint? The wifi didn’t reach to them.
Appreciated touches include pre-brewed coca tea available at all times, a kitchen open to guests, and individual lockers in the luggage storage room. The included breakfast, served at nostalgic cafeteria-style tables, was made up of bread, butter and jam, and tea and fresh fruit juice, while eggs were available for an extra charge. I had been in Cusco for a while by the time I checked into Mama Simona and so didn’t have too many questions for the staff, but they seemed helpful — if a bit quiet.
Overall, I can’t think of a better place to relax and decompress in Cusco, especially before or after a trek. This was one of my favorite hostels in Peru.
Contact: Calle Ceniza 364, Barrio de San Pedro, Cusco / (51) 984 630 149
Amenities: Full kitchen, daily breakfast, wifi and computer use
Pros: Beautiful rooms, comfortable common areas, individual lockers in left luggage area, coca tea available at all times of day
Cons: Wifi does not reach all rooms, kitchen could be spiffed up
Room tip: Every room I toured was equally charming!
Price: Eight bed ensuite dorms are $10, six bed ensuite dorms are $11, four bed ensuite dorms are $13, but $12 without an ensuite bathroom. Private rooms with shared bathroom are $25, and with private bathroom are $30.
Book Here: Mama Simona
After falling in love with the Wild Rover in Arequipa, I was excited to check out its Cusco cousin. This centrally-located hostel maintains the brand’s reputation as a party place with an active bar and dorm after dorm filled with raving gap year travelers.
Honestly, I was disappointed. Rooms were quite dark and incredibly loud — don’t come here when you’re coming down with the flu, like I was. Two different nights I sat in the bar and tried to get excited about what was going on there, but I just couldn’t. Unlike the intimate bar in the Arequipa hostel, where guess are quick to mingle, the mini-groups clumped around the bar in the Cusco location reminded me of high school and the cliquey Western bar staff only exacerbated that feeling.
Outside of the party scene… there is no scene. There’s no comfortable common area to relax in aside from the dark bar and a dingy main room. From speaking to other travelers, I’m not alone — most consider this to be the weakest of the Wild Rover brand. One positive point is that of all the Cusco hostels I stayed at, Wild Rover had the most eager-to-help local staff.
Contact: Matara 261, Cusco / (51) 84 221515
Amenities: Daily breakfast, wifi and computer use, bar
Pros: Good location, all dorms have ensuite bathrooms
Cons: Wifi did not reach to all rooms, rooms are dark, not a great vibe
Room tip: If you want some privacy (and happen to be a chica) check into the apparently unpopular female dorm — I had the room to myself for all three nights.
Price: Sixteen bed dorms are $8, ten bed dorms are $9, eight bed dorms are $10, six bed dorms are $11, and four bed dorms are $13.
Book Here: Wild Rover Cusco
So where should you head if you’re looking for something a little livelier than Mama Simona, but less seedy than Wild Rover? Kokopelli is the perfect compromise. While there is partying going on, this is more than just a backpacker ghetto. Kokopelli is another popular hostel chain in Peru with four locations across the country, and the Cusco one checks all the right boxes: central location, lively bar, charming and bright common areas, and cozy rooms.
There was great wifi throughout the hostel, and the best of both worlds when it came to dining: though a menu was available for those too lazy to cook, guests also had full kitchen access alongside the hostel cooks, allowing self-caterers to do their thing too. Breakfast included scrambled eggs and fresh juice — much appreciated touches.
There is room for improvement at Kokopelli. The reception staff was a bit aloof and at times even surly, and we ran into an issue on the day of check out where the groceries we bought the night before were locked inside the kitchen (an easy fix — keep a kitchen key in reception, or make a sign informing guests it will be locked!)
Contact: Calle San Andres 260, Cusco / (51) 65 223755
Amenities: Full kitchen access, restaurant, daily breakfast, wifi and computer use, bar
Pros: Great location, fun bar, good breakfast, bright and colorful
Cons: Aloof staff, kitchen locked over night
Room tip: Private rooms at the back of the hostel are furthest from the noise of the street and bar.
Price: Twelve bed dorms are $9, eight bed dorms start at $10, six bed dorms are $13, and four bed dorms are $14. Private rooms with ensuite bathrooms start from $38.
Book Here: Kokopelli
Stay tuned for reviews of hostels in Puno, Arequipa, and Lima!
This post was made possible by Hostelworld and the generous hospitality of Kokopelli and Mama Simona’s. I personally arranged and paid for my spontaneous stay at Wild Rover’s. The content of my reviews was not influenced in any way by these partnerships — as always, you have my honesty above all else.