Since Zoe arrived in Peru, we had been doing a thorough exploration of the country’s hostel offerings. And while I love backpacking, I never agreed to be exclusive with it — and never has this girl needed to flirt with a little luxury more than the days before and after tackling the mighty Inca Trail.
The night before our trek departure, Zoe and I checked into the sophisticated Inkaterra La Casona, located in the heart of Cusco. This boutique hotel holds just eleven rooms, allowing for impressively personalized service from the dedicated staff. Our seemingly never ending list of pre-trek requests were sweetly accommodated, from a scale to make sure our porter packs didn’t go about the regulated 7kg to old newspapers to stuff inside our wet shoes at night.
Check in took place not at an impersonal reception desk but in plush couches in the lounge, accompanied by cool scented towels and offers of hot tea. The decor of the converted manor was period without being stuffy, plush and still personal.
When we were shown to our suite, we had to contain ourselves not to jump on the beds — at least no until I had taken some photos and video. We paused to sip our welcome tea, a lovely way to soak up the atmosphere of the room upon arrival. It was also nice to enjoy the suite in its tidy state — our bags would soon explode across the floor in a trek packing frenzy.
We loved our room so much that we didn’t dare to leave it for dinner. Instead, we ordered pizza and dined in the same spot we had our tea, polished off with dessert ordered from La Casona’s own kitchen.
One of my great regrets is that with our limited time I didn’t have a chance to soak in the large stone tub — though we did make ample use of the heated towel rack to dry out of clothes after one of Cusco’s downpours.
I was also a bit wistful that I didn’t put aside time for a massage — though it helped that I knew I’d be needing one much more after the trek than before it. Still, isn’t this the sweetest massage room you’ve ever seen?
Remember that list of never-ending requests? We outdid ourselves when we asked if a to-go breakfast might be available — for a 4:30am departure. Despite the fact that the kitchen didn’t open until 5:00, as we walked out the door into the pre-dawn darkness we received a cheery goodbye along with two brown bag breakfasts. I was sad to say goodbye to La Casona, though it only upped my excitement for the next real bed that lay ahead of us — though we’d have to survive three nights of camping in between.
Four days later, we arrived in Aguas Calientes to a whirlwind of emotions. On one hand, it was hard to be back in civilization after a few beautiful days and nights of nothing but isolation and peaceful reflection. On the other, we really needed to shower.
We breezed through the tiny little frontier town at the base of Machu Picchu en route to our final destination — Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo.
We walked into an oasis of calm. The garden-like setting of this surprisingly large 85 room hotel gives an intimate feel to a sprawling property. The mountainside retreat covers a full five hectares of land with over three miles of private ecological trails snaking through it.
Our room was a charming and cozy hideaway — exactly that we needed to relax and recover after roughing it along the trail. Rather than TVs and entertainment systems, these rooms boast working fireplaces and reading nooks. And take advantage of that fireplace we certainly did.
Our next stop after thorough showers and indulgent lounging time was the spa. My muscles were in enough pain that I hesitated to sign up for reflexology, but the masseuse knew exactly how to pamper my lower extremities without punishing them. Never have I appreciated a spa technician’s skills more.
We didn’t have to go far for dinner, as both breakfast and one additional a la carte meal per day is included in the hotel’s room rate. Meals at the window-filled dining room did not disappoint, though I must admit that I hadn’t been to deprived along the Inca Trail — the food was absolutely fantastic. Yet it did feel indulgent to order from a menu once again.
As wifi doesn’t work in the rooms of the hotel, guests can be found day and night in the cozy main lodge posting their proud new photos of Machu Picchu.
Another perk of the hotel is the Excursion Center, where a number of free activities are available each day. With only one morning, we played with our schedule to fit in two. The first was an early morning visit to the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Spectacled Bear Project center, where we happily paid a 30 sole donation to meet Inkaterra’s rescued bears, followed by a guided orchid walk identifying some of the property’s 372 species — the largest number of native species within a private facility open to the public.
Other options, which we only wish we had had the time for, included make-your-own visit to a tea house and a guided bird watching expedition. All take place on the resort’s properties and are complimentary for Inkaterra guests.
The diversity of the flora and fauna along the trails amazed me — so did the knowledge of the guides and the fun perks like mid-walk homemade granola bars. You’d think I’d be snapped out after The Inca Trail, but I couldn’t stop photographing. And it wasn’t even peak season for orchids!
Before our afternoon train back to Cusco we dragged ourselves away from Inkaterra for one last adventure: soaking in the local hot springs. While the setting was stunning the crowds and the water quality were not and I can’t recommend it unless you are truly desperate to kill time before your train departure. Personally, we wished we had never left the hotel grounds.
But really, can you blame us? We were treated to one final indulgence — our bags were personally delivered directly to the train station.
If you’re in the position to splurge pre- or post- Inca Trail, I can’t think of a better place for a little indulgence than this pair of Inkaterras.
Which property would you stay at?
Many thanks to Inkaterra for their generous hospitality. I was a guest of the hotels 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.
It looks amazing! I think as I’ve gotten older (and lived in a run down hostel for a month in CA) hostels/bunk bed/dorm rooms are a thing of the past for me and this is how I’d like to travel, nice to know there’s such options in Peru 🙂 (and your hat is cute!)
Peru has an amazing array of luxury options… there might only be one or two per city, but they really are fantastic!
Amazing service! Being such a tourist draw I can only imagine that some would be tired of foreigners. BUT, Peruvians showing they are a step above.
I wouldn’t consider another hotel after hearing about your breakfast story.
Never seen a bear like that before either.
They actually remind me quite a bit of the Cambodian sun bears, who I met at a similar rescue organization on the other side of the world! Funny looking guys…
i don’t know why reading hotel reviews (any reviews) are my favorite. i’ve been staying in hotels/guesthouses more than hostels for the last year, and i don’t think i can go back to them! well.. until i run out of money
I still love a good mix! The hostels here in Peru have impressed me quite a bit, though there’s nothing like a taste of luxury every once in a while!
BOTH of these hotels are now on my bucket list for that time when I make it to this region of Peru.
Love the green armoire! The bookshelves. The carved doors. The footless bathtub. The white and red bed linens. Your photo of the spiral leaf. The real room key. The blue train.
I could plan a serious luxury tour of Peru now! Maybe it is time to open a travel agency…
it looks so welcoming
They both absolutely were!
What beautiful places! Especially the last place- what a perfect retreat after the Inca trail! It’s always the little touches that make somewhere great, somewhere fantastic.
I loved that while both properties were styled completely differently, they each fit perfectly into their settings. La Casona was perfect for colonial Cusco, and Machu Picchu Pueblo was perfect for in the middle of the wilderness!
Both look divine but I’m drooling over the thought of soaking in the stone tub.
I think I have a valid excuse to go back someday, since I didn’t get a chance to do that during my short stay!
Not much else I can say, but gorgeous!
Thanks Chris! They really were unique and beautiful properties.
These places look incredible! Massages are always the best when you feel you’ve really earned them.
I think it’s good that you have a balance when traveling, and I like reading about your diverse experiences. I can roll with drunk bunkmates peeing in my boots on the train, and I’ll eat street meat and happily go without showers for days, but I’ll also shell out the cash when it’s worth it to stay in nice places, or eat great food. Being so committed to a “style” of traveling is just as limiting as staying home, in my opinion.
I love this comment, and based on it I think you will really love the post I have coming out today 🙂
Thanks to you Alex, both hotels will get my business when I visit next year
Awesome, Amanda! I’m excited for you… you’ll love them!
So so so beautiful! I want to be your travel buddy next!
Application process starts here… just kidding. Anytime!
Oooh I’ve always wanted to stay at Inkaterra. I do love me a good hotel!
They are so beautiful! They just need to open a hotel in Lima now…
There is nothing better than spoiling your achy bones after such an epic trek. When I finished the EBC trek I had an hour long soak in a bath tub in our hotel in Kathmandu and I also went for a special trekkers massage. It was heaven!
Yup, it’s easy to splurge when you feel that you truly deserve something 🙂 Those sound like some fantastic treats!
AMAZING PHOTOS!!!! the 2nd inkaterra really was like a giant botanical garden
When I was editing these photos I remembered turning to you at the second hotel and saying, “This place photographs amazingly well…” It really did!
Awesome! I love the photos you take – the little details like your key. You’ve clearly got a great eye for it!
Thanks Rebecca, I really appreciate that! I like to think of myself as having an eye for details 🙂
‘Looks wonderful and your photos are fab!
I haven’t been to Peru yet but it has always been my first destination to go to when I finally tackle the continent LOL!
It was my first stop on the great South American continent as well 🙂 Good luck getting there and happy travels!