Cusco, Peru -- the gateway to the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and epic Andean treks -- is home to a long list of luxury hotels and an even longer list of hostels. Now, a growing number of boutique properties are filling that middle price gap, and offering guests intimate, personal and polished places to sleep -- in a wide range of travel budgets. From budget to high-end, here are a few of our favorites.
Illa is a Quechua word that means “reflection of the light.” The owners of this boutique hotel, which opened in 2015 after many years of renovation, say they want the Illa hotel to “be a light in the night for travelers” and they’re doing their best to make that happen. Located in the hip San Blas neighborhood, this family-owned hotel offers 25 surprisingly well-appointed rooms which come with mini-fridges, great showers, comfy beds, and in-room coffee and tea facilities. There’s a tranquil central garden and don’t miss the archaeological artifacts and vibrant tapestry art of Peruvian artist Maximo Laura on display throughout the hotel. Doubles from $99 including a buffet breakfast.
Opened in 2015, this 44-room hotel is located directly across from Santo Domingo Cathedral (the dome can be seen from the hotel’s central courtyard and from some rooms). In addition to the stellar central location, the Abittare offers a peaceful environment with a wide range of rooms full of surprisingly modern décor including light wood, a chic grey and earth tones color palette, modern light fixtures, and sleek bathrooms with lots of hot water and great water pressure. The décor contrast nicely with the architecture of the atmospheric 12th-century building. Doubles from $105 including a buffet breakfast served in a light and airy renovated attic space that starts at 5 a.m. to accommodate those with early departures and continues until 10 a.m. for those who want to sleep in.
The granddaddy of boutique hotels in Cusco opened in the San Blas neighborhood in 2009 and it still charms with just three homey rooms and an art-filled central courtyard (the hotel is run by Carlos Delfin, the son of Peruvian painter and sculptor Victor Delfin). There's no reception desk -- just step off the street through a gate and into your new home away from home. Rooms, arranged around the central courtyard, feel more like mini-apartments and Carlos is always on hand to offer advice and assistance in perfect English. Doubles from $120 including breakfast which features some of the best bread in the city and bottomless cups of very good coffee.
Created in a former market building which dates back to the 1700s, this 32-room hotel displays style and comfort at every turn. Some of the stone pillars holding up arches around the central courtyard are original and the two-story construction offers plenty of furnished patio space in which to relax, including tables and chairs around a convivial fire pit, which is lit nightly. Feeling splurgy? Junior suites and suites have fireplaces and jetted tubs. Doubles from $170 including a very well-appointed breakfast buffet. Don’t miss the made-to-order juice bar.
Created in the former home of the owner, who studied hospitality in France, this nine-room hotel is full of luxe touches including fresh-cut flowers, heated towel racks, 500-thread-count sheets, robes, and slippers. The sleek décor was handled by Elena Testino, the sister of famous Peruvian fashion and portrait photographer Mario Testino. Just as stunning is this hotel’s location on the edge of the Qorikancha Incan site, one of the most iconic must-sees in Cusco. Book the suite and you’ll have a furnished private patio that looks directly into the temple. No other hotel in city has a location like this. Doubles from $280 including breakfast.