The closest we’ll get to luxury time travel might just be a trip to the Palacio del Inka, a hotel built quite literally amongst the cornerstones of Incan legend. The 500-year-old mansion set in the very center of Cusco’s district faces the most important temple of the Incan empire — the Qoricancha – the Temple of the Sun. And against the Palacio del Inka’s backdrop, it is not at all difficult to imagine paying homage to our universe’s greatest star from the steps of this storied place.
Combining modern amenities with old-world Peruvian culture, the Palacio del Inka has preserved much of the architecture that first adorned the building’s structure when it was claimed by Ganzalo Pizarro (the brother of famed Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro) in 1533. You’ll still find classical stone archways, vast courtyards, and beguiling balconies that hearken to the age of the Spanish occupation. Indeed, suites located in the hotel’s Casona de los Cuatro Bustos were part of the 15th century colonial residence. And for art aficionados, there are no fewer than 195 pieces of colonial artwork on display throughout the property, including 60 original paintings from the Cusqueña Art School.
But it’s not just Spanish influence that reigns in the Palacio — rather, an original Incan stone wall runs over 200 feet in length at the impressive hotel bar, part of the ruins of the Qoricancha that have not survived the test of time fully in-tact. And if you look closely, you’ll see the famous Stone of 8 Angles, an archeological marvel that was part of the imperial Incan wall and made from a plutonic rock mined from the deep.
The rooms continue to pay homage to the history of colonial Cusco, with ornate color schemes of gold and deep burgundies persisting throughout. Dark wooden finishes provide a foil to the lighter colored walls, which help keep these rooms quite sunny despite more austere decorations and palettes. Marble bathrooms feature both tubs and showers so you can have a spa-like experience without leaving your room.
That said, if you’re looking for more pampering, be sure to check out the Andes Spirit Spa, which is the only thermal circuit spa in the city, bringing together water treatment, aromatherapy, and massage techniques. The arched waterfall in the pool is worth a visit in and of itself, regardless of whether or not you’re opting for hydrotherapy.
For those looking to better understand the history of Cusco, there’s no better place to start than the hotel itself – the Palacio del Inka offers a guided tour of the property that traverses through Pre-Inca, Inca, Colonial, and Republican eras of the hotel (including their impact of the architecture). Be sure to also catch the alpaca who live in and around the hotel, whose wool continues to play a key part of Peruvian culture today.
In terms of dining, the Inti Raymi restaurant is not to be missed, serving traditional Peruvian dishes using local ingredients. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can find a wide range of options. And for a nightcap (or a day drink), check out the hotel bar, Rumi Bar, which claims to be the first luxury hotel to have served a Pisco Sour more than four decades ago.
While there’s more than enough to see in Cusco, Peru, when you’re finished with your exploring, there are few better places to lay your head for the night than the Palacio del Inka.
Location: Cusco, Peru
The Vibe: Sumptuous, ornate, Spanish Colonial architecture and hospitality with modern convenience and luxury
Food + Drink: There are two dining options at Hotel Casa del Mar – Inti Raymi restaurant and Rumi Bar.
Amenities: spa; fitness center; swimming pool; restaurant; bar; concierge; ballroom; meeting spaces
Our Favorite Thing About the Hotel: Be sure to head to the Rumi Bar, order a Pisco Sour, and marvel at the Incan wall.
5 Nearby Attractions: Qoricancha, Templo del San Blas, Jardín Sagrado, Plaza Mayor De Cusco, Catedral del Cusco
Any Personal Neighborhood Recs?: Seeing as you’re staying quite literally in what was once the Qoricancha, it would be a mistake not to pay the holy site a proper visit.
Rooms: 203 rooms and suites
Pricing: Rooms start at $255/night
Closest Airport: Cuzco Airport