Peru may not be known as a premier luxury destination in South America, but in recent years as international tourism has grown in strength, so has the demand for luxury hotels, services and experiences. In-fact for most travelers it comes as quite a surprise as to the sheer amount of luxury options available. If you are considering a luxury vacation to Peru, then here are my top 5 recommendations that you shouldn’t miss out on.
1) Luxury Amazon jungle lodge retreat
Spending a few days in a remote lodge tucked away in Peru’s Amazon Jungle is a wonderful experience. Now imagine all the magic of the Amazon but with the comfort of a luxury hotel. Well, the Reserva Amazonica Lodge in Peru’s Tambopata National Park offers just that. The lodge, situated 90 minutes from the airport town of Puerto Maldonado (and 50 minutes by air from Cusco) caters for clientele who want an authentic jungle experience, but still want to retain a high level of comfort.
The lodge’s top of the range Tambopata Suite is the ultimate rainforest retreat, offering guests a king bed with cotton sheets and 6 hypoallergenic pillows, a private plunge pool and terrace, 2 hammocks and an open plan bathroom with separate shower unit and double basins. And, for the brave there is also a hidden outdoor shower too! The lodge offers well-priced standard 3 and 4 days getaway packages, plus they can also create custom itineraries to meet your travel needs.
2) The luxury Hiram Bingham Train
Named after the famous Yale University Explorer, the Hiram Bingham Train is considered to be one of the world’s finest luxury train rides. Departing the Andean village of Poroy (just outside Cusco), the three and a half hour journey slowly winds its way to the Ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, traversing some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in Peru.
Guests riding the Hiram Bingham can expect to receive the very best Peruvian hospitality, including a Champaign reception, traditional Andean dancing, gourmet meals aboard and an invitation for afternoon tea at Machu Picchu’s exclusive Sanctuary Lodge Hotel. With a price-tag of US$ 750 per person (return ticket) it certainly isn’t for the light hearted. One way tickets offer a more affordable option, however, avoid it’s probably worth avoiding the return journey as the train departs just before sunset.
3) Gourmet cuisine at the ruins of Huaca Pucllana
Peruvian cuisine is certainly hitting the headlines at the moment. Winning “World’s Best Culinary Destination” at the World Travel awards in 2012, and more recently Peru’s celebrity chef Gaston Acurio collected the White Guide’s 2013 Global Gastronomy Award, in recognition of “having developed a rich local cuisine, with a vision of the future, known as novoandina food”. Spending a couple of nights dining in some of Lima’s best restaurants is a treat for any food lover, but having a meal whilst overlooking a beautiful archaeological site takes it to a whole new level.
Huaca Pucllana is a huge pre-Columbian adobe pyramid located in the up-market district of Miraflores (a stone’s throw from most of Lima’s hotels). Dating back to the Lima Culture that occupied the region from 200 – 700 A.D., the site served as an important ceremonial and administrative centre for the culture. Nowadays, visitors to this great archaeological gem can also combine a visit with a meal at the on-site restaurant which specializes in seafood and traditional Peruvian cuisine. During weekends and holidays, advanced bookings are essential.
4) Luxury Amazon river cruises
A few miles south of Iquitos where the Ucayali-Apurímac and the Marañón Rivers converge is officially considered the start of the Amazon River. Aqua Expeditions is a pioneering luxury cruise operator that offers travellers one of the most unique and luxurious ways to experience Peru’s Amazon jungle. Their two river boats the M/V Aqua & Aria, which were custom built especially for Aqua Expeditions, offer all the amenities of a modern 5 star hotel, but on water.
During the cruise guests can enjoy professionally lead jungle excursions into some of the most remote parts of the Amazon, yet still enjoy a high quality accommodations and facilities offered on-board these refined vessels. The boat’s restaurant offers a menu designed by Pedro Miguel Schiaffino, a renowned Peruvian Chef, and utilises ingredients and flavours of the Amazon itself. Due to limited capacity aboard the vessels, booking early is essential.
5) The luxury Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel
Located on the outskirts of the village of Aguas Calientes, lies one of Peru’s best hotels. Although technically only considered a 4 star hotel, its location, onsite facilities and sumptuous accommodations far outclass many other 5 star hotels. Set in 11 acres of beautiful cloud forest gardens, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel offers guests a selection of bungalows and individual casitas ranging from comfortable entry level rooms, through to opulent thatched roof suites.
Suites include private terraces, thick alpaca blankets, crackling fireplaces and spa style bathrooms. Furthermore, the hotel has a team of specialist naturalist guides which offer nature and bird walks free-of-charge within the vast gardens. Guests can also enjoy coffee and tea from the hotel’s onsite garden plantations. Rooms start from about US$ 550 per night and include breakfast and dinner.
Paul Jones is Managing Director of Totally Latin America.