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.