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Cusco, Peru, is the ancient capital of the Inca empire and the gateway to Machu Picchu. Often referred to as the “belly button of the world," it is thought to be one of the earliest centers of civilization. From here you can begin the nearly 51 miles of Inca trails to the archeological ruins, the entire journey of which will take about four days of trekking.
The town still bears signs of the Spanish conquerors who arrived in the 16th century and built baroque palaces and numerous churches with beautiful wooden carvings. For recommendations on where to stay, read on to see our favorite accommodations in Cusco, from luxury boutique hotels to budget family picks, we've got you covered.
Best Overall: Sonesta Hotel Cusco
This No. 1 top-rated hotel for value on TripAdvisor is just a quick eight-minute drive from Velasco Astete International Airport, and with free transfers provided by the hotel, it makes a very convenient base for your adventures into Machu Picchu. The single, double, twin and king-sized rooms are clean and comfortable, and come complete with cable TV, free Wi-Fi, a minibar and contemporary bathrooms.
Trekking can be exhausting, so make sure you fuel up before heading out by visiting the Ajawasi bar, which serves lunch and dinner, as well cocktails and snacks. For more formal dining, the Mamaji restaurant dishes up modern Peruvian cuisine and has a wood-burning pizzeria on site.
Best Budget: Fuente de Agua Hotel
This modestly priced pick is located in the San Jerónimo district of Cusco, about a 20-minute taxi ride from the city center, which some people may find too far. However the friendly, accommodating staff and the bright comfortable rooms make the Fuente de Agua an attractive option for the budget traveler. Columns and colonial architectural touches are apparent in the patio garden, reception and rooms, with intricately carved headboards and Juliet balcony windows demanding your attention. Basic amenities include TVs in each room and Internet service in the common areas. Your hosts cook simple yet delicious meals and there is a private patio area to relax.
Best Boutique: Inkaterra La Casona Relais & Chateaux
The Inkaterra La Casona Relais & Chateaux was the first boutique hotel to be built in Cusco and has maintained its position as one of the finest independent lodgings in the area. Just 10 minutes drive from the airport, this 16th-century manor has 11 luxury suites, each featuring working chimneys, heated floors and extra large bathtubs. Expect amenities such as free Wi-Fi, flatscreen TVs, DVD players, iPod speakers, a minibar and housekeeping three times per day in these beautifully decorated rooms.
Check out the Yacu therapy room, which offers spa services to guests tired and sore from days of trekking the ruins.
The Manor’s dining room serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Be sure to enjoy their complimentary tea time and oxygen to help you to adjust to the high altitude.
Best for Families: Hilton Garden Inn Cusco
The outdoor courtyard at the Hilton Garden Inn Cusco features comfy oversized sectional couches in bright vibrant shades of green and a whole row of columns to play hide and seek behind, making it a great choice for families. From anywhere on the hillside property you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains, yet you are only less than a mile from the city center.
Rooms here come with free Wi-Fi and 42-inch TVs. Connecting rooms are available if the kids need a little more space or you can upgrade to a suite with a separate living area. Parents will appreciate highchairs and cribs supplied at no further cost and the Pavilion pantry market, which is open 24 hours a day.
The Garden Grille restaurant serves dinner nightly and there is room service available if you prefer to dine in your suite. When Mom and Dad need a break the yoga room and spa provide an ideal place to relax.
Best Romance: Antigua Casona San Blas
Located just four blocks from Cusco’s main square, this renovated 19th-century mansion is full of old world romance. You and your honey will be spoiled in any of the 14 well-appointed rooms. Expect a super comfy King-sized bed with luxury linens, hand-carved colonial furniture, flat-screen TVs and in-room Wi-Fi as standard.
In the evening, lounge around the table fire pits and try a pisco sour or two in the open air courtyard. Before enjoying a traditional Peruvian Criollo dish, such as chicken with chancaca or alpaca in pepper reduction at the on-site restaurant, Piedra and Sal.
Best Luxury: Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
A sheltered courtyard with a beautiful fountain at the center invites you to this relaxing oasis, close to the city’s historical center. The Belmond Palacio Nazarenas hotel is built on ancient Inca foundations with careful attention paid to preserving the history of Inca stonework and colonial frescos. Yet it still manages to provide visitors with modern luxury facilities, including the city’s first outdoor heated swimming pool, a full spa and butler service for all 55 suites.
Each spacious suite is individually styled with a living and dining area, Peruvian marble bathroom, an espresso machine and satellite TV.
Your personal butler will attend to all your needs including packing and unpacking your luggage, booking tours and can even teach you how to make an authentic pisco sour.
Relax in the beautiful library, a restored chapel or book an indulgent body wrap or massage at the spa. The five-star service continues at the Senzo restaurant where you can try a real Peruvian delicacy, a confit of guinea pig, served with a stuffed pepper.
Best Nightlife/Best for Singles: Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa
Due to its popularity with tourists, Cusco is consistently busy and as such is well known for its lively club and bar scene. The main plaza is where most of the action happens, check out popular pubs and bars such as The Muse, Indigo and Norton Rat’s Tavern. Then, later on in the evening, head out to Ukuku’s, which is one of the biggest clubs in Cusco. It typically doesn't close until 6 a.m.
To access all these party spots, you’ll want to stay at a hotel close to Plaza de Armas, like the Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa. Every evening, you’ll be offered a complimentary cocktail and canapes to start your night off with a bang or choose to dine at the historic restaurant ‘La Bodega de la Chola, where Che Guevara enjoyed many bohemian nights.
After you return to the hotel, relax in your colonial suite with down comforter, LCD TV and tatami style shower. Wake up late the next day, especially if you are nursing a headache and visit the steam bath and hydromassage pool at the hotel’s luxury spa. There is also a gym and yoga class available if you prefer to sweat it out.
Best Business: Belmond Hotel Monasterio
This former monastery has an enviable position right near the main square. If you are visiting Cusco on business, you’ll need to have a fresh head to concentrate. To help with the possibility of altitude sickness, which can make it very difficult to focus, all the rooms here are available with oxygen enrichment.
Be sure to book a table at the intimate El Tupay restaurant, which serves Peruvian classics while Opera singers entertain diners.
On the cooler nights, you can wrap up in a hand-woven alpaca blanket and use the free in-room WiFi to catch up on reports and organize meetings for the following day. Alternatively, take a well-deserved break and watch a little TV or relax and take a soak in your luxury marble bathroom.
Best Views: Los Apus Hotel & Mirador
The Los Apus hotel is a simple, rustic base that offers a comfortable stay for a reasonable price. The standout highlight, however, is the stunning panoramic views of Cusco and the mountains beyond from the beautiful rooftop terrace. Here, you can dine at the El Mirador Restaurant & Bar, which serves a fine selection of Andean cheeses.
The rooms are clean and decorated simply, including amenities such as free Wi-Fi and cable TV. Four of the twenty available rooms have private balconies that also offer gorgeous vistas. The Los Apus is located just a couple of blocks from the main squares and the attractions of Cusco, yet is a quiet retreat in the evenings where you can get a good night's rest before another day of exploring.