Sitting 11,152 feet above sea level, Cusco was once the crown jewel of the Inca Empire. The city now serves as the gateway to the Sacred Valley and all of its treasures. A taxi ride brings you to the train which winds its way downhill towards the ancient Inca cities of Ollantaytambo and Machu Picchu.
But Cusco is a destination unto itself. Beautiful open courtyards are surrounded by house-covered mountains in a city that’s a fusion of old and new. Towering centuries-old Spanish structures are built right on top of ancient Inca interlocking stone foundations. And you’ll fall in love with the classic Peruvian food with a Spanish twist.
The architecture of this hotel is a play on Cusco’s Koricancha where a colonial Spanish building rises out of a foundation of ancient Incan interlocking stone. It features a beautiful Spanish-style stone courtyard where you’ll be able to see a million stars during Cusco’s crystal clear and cool nights. This 43-room former Velasco Ordoñez residence is minimalist, clean and open. Stark white walls are visually broken by splashes of Peruvian color in the form of textiles and carpets. And it serves as a convenient gateway to the Sacred Valley being on the western side of the high-elevation metropolis.
This affordable hotel is yet another fusion of old and new. The hotel circles around a courtyard that resembles the nearby Plaza de Armes. The modern structure is interrupted by a towering ancient building made of stone. Many of the hotel’s interior walls are made of this warm stone to give the bar and restaurant a rustic feel. The rooms feature stark contrasts. Peruvian red comforters stand out against bright white walls, wood paneling and stone accents. The grass and stone courtyard is especially beautiful at sunrise, and you’re only a 10-minute walk to the Plaza de Armas which is a popular hangout spot for locals.
This stunning hostel gives you all the features of a pricey hotel for a budget price. Greenery cascades off balconies to give the common area courtyard a lush feel. You’ll meet people from all over the world enjoying the wifi in this central area. The bustling hostel features late-night parties on the weekends where world-traveling young people revel in the beauty of Cusco. Pick a private or share room then enjoy the location. It’s just three blocks to the Plaza de Armas and the surrounding historical sites.
You’ll have ancient Incan ruins right across the street at the Taypikala Hotel Cusco. The Jardin Sagrado features beautifully preserved Incan stone structures inside the city. The hotel’s rooms are simple with unadorned white walls, white linen beds and hardwood floors, but this hotel is more about convenience. You get a massive included buffet breakfast in the morning, and you’re a short walk away from Cusco’s historical district. Walk down to the Plaza de Armas past ancient churches and through open courtyards to buy wares made of Alpaca fur.
Novotel Cusco is all about comfort. This hotel hides on a side street but really opens up when you walk through the doors. You’re immediately struck by a giant stone courtyard that features a glass dome so that you can enjoy the brilliant night sky without the chill of the Cusco air. The lighting is superb. It gives the whole interior a refined feel. The rooms, bar and restaurant are surprisingly modern. But the front door of the hotel opens up to an ancient narrow street lined with restaurants, shops and bars on its way through the Historic District.
Tambo del Arriero Hotel Boutique sits on the western edge of the touristed historic area. You’ll have to navigate narrow streets past enticing restaurants and streetside shops to get to points of interest like the San Francisco church, the Museo Inka and the Plaza de Armas. But the relative seclusion pays off. Tambo del Arriero sets the mood with some of the most beautiful lighting in all of Cusco. The quintessential Peruvian stone courtyard is lathered in romantically dim light to give you a quiet retreat. The rooms feel like cathedrals with beds that can be arranged to wait for you with sprinkled rose petals.
Sonesta Hotel Cusco is the first hotel on this list that’s a bit too far to walk to the Plaza de Armas. Situated in central Cusco, but it is a short walk to the city’s Central Square and only an eight-minute drive to the airport. This is a brand new hotel with plenty of modern amenities and comforts. The interior and exterior of the building are everything you’d expect from a four-star hotel. Tha bathrooms are stunning with glass showers, comfortable separate tubs and a gorgeous hovering sink.
The Costa del Sol Ramada Cusco has perhaps the most beautiful, grand and stunning courtyard of all the hotels in Cusco. Arches span in all directions like aqueducts with rose red stone standing out against the central fountain of flowers. This stunning hotel sits right in the heart of the historic area. Plaza de Armas is right across the street where you can sit to watch the locals enjoy a game of chess, a coffee and a midday chat. The rooms feature high ceilings, murals and rainfall showers. The surprisingly modern common areas hide just off a narrow ancient street.