Where do you want to stay on your Machu Picchu visit?

Every year, millions of travelers are drawn to a singular mountain-top sanctuary, as if individually summoned by some otherworldly force. Nevertheless, it’s easy to understand why so many embark on this annual trek to Machu Picchu. Once we make personal contact with the 550-year old citadel, somehow built almost 8,000 feet in the air, its enigmatic elements combine to raise existential questions about how and why it existed – which then makes us pose those very same questions to ourselves. It’s impossible not to feel the worldly sense of wonder that it evokes.

Machu Picchu

If you too find yourself drawn to this amazing destination, we have selected eight (8) of the top accommodations for you in the surrounding area (Machu Picchu City, colonial Cusco and in the “Sacred Valley of the Inca,” as well as on top of the mountain itself), places that will actually add to your pilgrimage and contribute to your overall Machu Picchu experience.

1. Belmond Monasterio del Cuzco

An architectural treasure built on Inca foundations in the heart of that former empire
The hotel’s 126 guest quarters includes six luxury suites
Monasterio’s two restaurants serve Peruvian, international and Andino-Nikkei cuisine

Belmond Monasterio del Cuzco 1

The Monasterio del Cuzco Hotel combines the solemnity of a colonial monastery with the luxury, elegance, comfort and excellent quality of a modern five-star hotel. Built as a monastery in 1592, the Monasterio del Cuzco retains its charm and ambiance that has endured for centuries while boasting a reputation as one of the world’s finest hotels. Local antiques and 16th-century paintings decorate the hotel’s magnificent interiors, which include a gilded baroque chapel available for weddings and special events. Yet when you settle into your room, the 21st century kicks in – as each of these quarters is oxygen enriched to combat the effects of the high altitude. For relaxing in a hidden courtyard or sipping a Pisco sour beneath arched colonnades, Hotel Monasterio is a tranquil hideaway at the heart of bustling Cusco, with all of the city’s top cultural attractions, markets, lively restaurants and cafes just steps away. Indeed, the hotel is just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, Cusco’s central square, where the cathedral and most important museums are located. The hotel is an ideal base not only for discovering the delights of Cusco but also for heading out to explore the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Belmond Monasterio del Cuzco 2

2. Tambo del Inka Resort & Spa (Sacred Valley)

The only hotel in the Sacred Valley with a private train station to Machu Picchu
Its 128 rooms are “far and away the most lavish place to stay along the route to Machu Picchu”
Offering refined dining, a therapeutic spa and a premier fitness center

Tambo del Inka 1

Only 50 minutes from the ancient city of Cusco, and almost the same distance from Machu Picchu, you will find the Tambo del Inka boutique hotel nestled in Peru’s “Sacred Valley.” Described by many as the best hotel in Peru, these accommodations provide a base from which travelers can reach the mystical Inca citadel. This spectacular resort & spa offers unparalleled services and limitless opportunities of discovery for groups, weddings, meetings and incentive travel around Peru. Various adventure, historical and cultural tours can be arranged to ensure a full experience during your vacation in Peru. These excursions include everything from visits to Machu Picchu (one of the “Seven New Wonders of the World”), to kayaking on the impressive Lake Piuray, true mountain biking along mountain roads, trekking across sublime landscape and exotic Peruvian wildlife watching. The nation’s cuisine, recognized as some of the best in the world, can be appreciated in the hotel’s spectacular Hawa restaurant, designed with a perfect balance of indigenous elements while offering a unique opportunity to explore new flavors. In addition, with capacity for more than 350 people, the hotel’s conference/ballroom is the perfect setting for generating new ideas or sharing in a spectacular wedding reception surrounded by Andean nature.

Tambo del Inka 2

3. Palacio del Inka

Located in the heart of Cusco directly across from the impressive “Temple of the Sun”
203 exquisite guest rooms with Peruvian furnishings with contemporary amenities
Even the hallways have gallery–worthy mosaics, tapestries and Peruvian folk art

Palacio del Inka 1

As has been noted, “Opulence bedecks this colonial mansion.” Built over Inca foundations, with parts of the building dating back to the 16th century, the Palacio del Inka Hotel (“Inca Palace”) is as luxurious and stunning as one would expect. With a fine interior courtyard and ample recently renovated rooms, the hotel also features a Peruvian restaurant, a bar and a business center. Its 203 exquisitely appointed guest suites and rooms combine Peruvian art and handcrafted furnishings with contemporary amenities — from a signature “Luxury Collection bed” to state-of-the-art technology, including LED TVs, high-speed Internet access, and iPod docking stations. A well-celebrated mansion dating back nearly five centuries, Palacio del Inka stands in the historic center of Cusco. Directly across from the famed Qoricancha temple, it is a five-minute walk from the Main Square and less than 15 minutes from an array of museums, markets and restaurants. Uniting the past and present, Palacio del Inka Spa presents indigenous treatments and an indoor therapy pool. At the same time, the hotel’s Inti Raymi Restaurant offers authentic Peruvian dishes, while a variety of meeting and event venues invite guests to revel over enchanting occasions.

Palacio del Inka 2

4. Belmond Palacio Nazarenas Boutique Hotel (Cusco)

The hotel is situated directly in the historic heart of Cusco: Nazarenas Square
A private butler and a private bar come with each of the hotel’s 55 exquisite suites
A former palace and a convent, the hotel’s walls are made of Inca stones

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas Boutique Hotel NAZ-12

With a restaurant, spa, bar & pool, the Palacio Nazarenas is “relentlessly cushy in its every detail.” Taking hospitality in Cusco to a higher realm, this painstakingly restored private residence-turned-convent, blends 21st-century indulgence with original Inca walls and colonial frescoes. In this 16th century structure — with its exquisite interlocking courtyards and overlooked by wooden balconies — you’ll find underfloor heating, oxygen-enriched guest suites, freestanding baths, a library with archaeological discoveries from the restoration, a hypnôze spa featuring local products and treatments. This boutique hotel features Cusco’s only outdoor infinity-edge pool, as well as a handicraft boutique, private dining and meeting rooms and a chapel, while each guest is even provided with the services of a personal butler, 24/7, who will help you create your own travel programs, introduce you to local experts and show you how to make your own herb-based cocktails in your room.

Belmond Palacio Nazarenas Boutique Hotel NAZ-3

5. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (Machu Picchu City, a.k.a Aguas Calientes)

Deep in a lush cloud forest beneath Machu Picchu at the foot of the mountain
The hotel’s 85 whitewashed, red-roofed cottages situated among dramatic waterfalls
Free happy-hour “Pisco sours” at Inkaterra gourmet restaurant

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel 1

Deep in a lush cloud forest, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Hotel is an intimate luxury hotel whose 85-cottages sprawling over 12 acres create the atmosphere of a charming Andean-style village. Situated at the foot of the mountain, the hotel is a short, 4-mile bus ride from the famed Incan archaeological site from which it gets its name. And while it’s not the closest hotel to the ruins at Machu Picchu, Inkaterra boasts a location that’s special in another way: The hotel’s whitewashed, red-roofed cottages scattered throughout the lush cloud forest, with these cabanas set among waterfalls, hummingbirds and an orchid garden with 372 different native species. The interiors of the guest cottages and villas feature terra-cotta tile floors, wood-beam ceilings, and working fireplaces. All of this is enhanced by spa-like bathrooms supplied with environmentally friendly toiletries, while in all of the guest quarters you’ll find thick alpaca blankets, handmade wool coverlets, crackling fireplaces, comfortable spaces for sitting and dining, as well as the spa-style bathrooms. Plus – if the hotel’s own restaurant, spa, café and bar aren’t enough — the hotel is at the edge of the town of Machu Picchu City (formerly called Aguas Calientes), where there are additional bars and restaurants – should you be in the mood for exploring.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel 2

6. Explora Valle Sagrado Lodge (Sacred Valley)

A minimalist — though luxury – “base camp” that compels you to reflect on your destination
Developed in cooperation with national archeologist to preserve the site’s ancestral heritage
More than 25 excursions available — including hiking, mountain biking & archaeological site visits

Explora-Valle-Sagrado

Explora Valle Sagrado Lodge stayed true to its mission: an all-inclusive luxury “base camp” from which discerning guests can enjoy guided “explorations” to Machu Picchu and throughout the surrounding region. Located within the “Sacred Valley of the Incas,” in the town of Urubamba, Valle Sagrado provides top-shelf all-inclusive accommodations only 41 km from Cusco and 62 km from Machu Picchu. The lodge is situated in one of the most remote corn farms of the valley, surrounded by majestic mountains that were once the home to the great Inca Empire. The angular design of the sprawling hotel complements the expansive 75 acre rocky site in which original sections of Inca walls were discovered and are have now been restored by archaeologists who descended from Peru’s governmental ministries. As for the hotel’s large rooms and suites themselves, these are appointed with wooden floors and feature modern architecture and decoration. Each room’s private bathroom is provided with a spa bath, while the social dining area offers panoramic garden and mountain views. Valle Sagrado Hotel also offers guests more than 20 guided exploration activities, either on foot or by bicycle. In fact, the hotel’s top-notch guides are exceptional in assisting travelers in experiencing the area’s unique geography and Andean culture in all it richness. Guests at Explora Valle Sagrado can enjoy full board meal plans and an open bar. And for those who are planning a 2017 stay, the hotel’s spa will be reopening in early 2017 following extensive remodeling.

explora-sacred-valley

7. Rio Sagrado Hotel (Sacred Valley)

At a warmer, lower altitude between mountainous Machu Picchu and highland Cusco
21 suites and villas offering unparalleled space, and adorned with Inca crafts
Dining at the El Huerto Restaurant for Peruvian and international cuisine

Rio Sagrado Hotel 2

Relishing the total pampering at the Mayu Wilka spa & treatment rooms, with natural materials that resemble an authentic Andean village, this striking 5-star hotel lies amid the verdant fields and towering mountains of Peru’s “Sacred Valley of the Incas.” Harmonizing with these rural surroundings, the suites and villas of Rio Sagrado Hotel are laid out in traditional Peruvian styles, though they also possess a contemporary flair. Spacious riverfront terraces offer vistas over the river and hills that guests can also explore on horseback or mountain bike. Afterwards, indulge in a soothing alfresco massage amid the spa’s fragrant gardens and eucalyptus trees. Then too, the hotel’s bar, swimming pool and two gourmet restaurants serve to completely spoil any guest. This charming hotel is a tranquil retreat situated 45 minutes from the mythical citadel of Machu Picchu and an hour from the ancient Inca city of Cusco, set on the fertile banks of the mighty Urubamba River. Situated at an altitude that’s warmer than those nearby mountainous areas, Rio Sagrado is the perfect environment in which to relax and acclimatize, making it an ideal base for exploring the region.

Rio Sagrado Hotel 1

8. Sanctuary Lodge (Machu Picchu citadel)

A mere 60 yards from the entrance to the enigmatic Machu Picchu citadel
31 rooms, where you’ll awake to sunrise-views of the ancient complex
Here one can enjoy exquisite dining while overlooking the sacred mountain
Features exotic gardens filled with orchids and hummingbirds

Sanctuary Lodge 222

Around 40 years ago, the Peruvian government constructed a temporary hotel just steps from the entrance to Machu Picchu in order to show off the ancient ruins to international VIPs. As the mysterious Incan ruins grew in popularity, the hotel was begrudgingly allowed to remain on a permanent basis. Today the hotel stands as the only major alteration to the ruins’ isolated setting. Nevertheless, it is sensitively inserted into the hillside and isn’t visible from the ruins themselves. Today, existing as a luxury lodge, Sanctuary Lodge is without question one of the most dramatic and unique settings in the world. Of the hotel’s 31 guest quarters (including two suites), 12 have mountain views and several have terraces. The hotel’s lush, orchid-filled interior gardens and outdoor hot tub also have Andes vistas, and there is space on-site for massage services and yoga. All of the rooms feature traditional Andean furnishings, such as alpaca blankets and framed textiles, plus comfortable modern amenities. And though it’s the only modern development in the “Lost City of the Incas,” the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge provides an array of amenities that include two upscale restaurants that blend seamlessly into its natural surroundings and a spa in which you can to soothe any aches and pains from an adventure-packed day spent exploring the region’s wonders.

Sanctuary Lodge 1

For a Machu Picchu experience that leaves you thoroughly enriched, and not in the least way disappointed, we have found that stays in hotels such as the eight outlined above will leave you with the very best memories of what are sure to be an unforgettable adventure in Peru.

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator.

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Comments (2)

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  1. John says:

    Thanks for a lovely, and very nicely illustrated, article. I’ve yet to make it to Machu Picchu but I will bookmark this for reference when I do!

  2. It’s been a few years since we went to Machu Picchu. We stayed at the hotel at the top of the mountain beside the ruins. Forgot the name but assume it is the above mentioned Sanctuary Lodge. Sounds like it’s been renovated since we were there, although the room with the terrace we had was amazing.

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