Belmond is one our very favorite hoteliers and if you’ve worked with us, we’ve almost certainly recommended them to you! The Belmond brand is synonymous with one-of-a-kind hotels, trains, river cruises and safari lodges in stunning destinations across the globe. Each property has an incredible story to tell and an experience all its own.
Did you know we’re members of the Belmond Bellini Club? The invitation-only status gives us exclusive benefits that we can pass onto you, our clients, to make your travel experience that much more special. These perks include daily breakfast for two, complimentary upgrade on arrival, VIP welcome amenity and resort credits.
Our first night in Peru was at Monasterio, a cherished landmark just steps from Cusco’s lively central square. Built on the foundations of an Inca palace, it has graceful archways and cobbled paths surrounding a breathtaking symmetrical courtyard laced with flowerbeds and a towering 300-year-old cedar tree at its center. Through one of the archways to the left of the courtyard you will find a gilded chapel among the restored monastery’s many treasures. Guests receive a warm welcome upon arrival with fresh muña tea which helps with the high elevation.
Our room was on the second floor of the property overlooking the city and entered by way of a restored solid slab wooden door with intricate carvings, complete with a lock that required an actual key (no digital key cards here!). Entering into our room felt equally authentic with one-of-a-kind furniture and art pieces salvaged from long ago so that no two rooms are alike. In the evening, don’t miss a chance to enjoy a drink in the courtyard. Lit by firelight, the the space comes alive and feels almost magical. In the morning, Monasterio’s breakfast featuring locally sourced foods is served overlooking the courtyard. Looking back, we felt Monasterio had the best breakfast of all the Belmond properties we visited. They even had a hot tea bar complete with fresh herbs and coca leaves.
Our second stay in Peru was at Rio Sagrado, located deep in Peru’s Sacred Valley. Set on the banks of the Urubamba River, the property is built from natural materials using ancient techniques, terraced into the hillside so that all rooms feature river views. Each suite radiates Andean charm with bright textiles and soft alpaca wools. Walking around the property you are treated to lush gardens threaded with streams and waterfalls. Our suite was located on the upper terrace with panoramic views of Rio Sagrado and a private terrace, complete with an outdoor fireplace for the cooler nights.
Slow travel is the way of life here. We spent an afternoon by the pool, indulged in massages and the steam room at the Mayu Willka Spa and made sure to not miss the daily baby alpaca feedings. Getting to feed and pet these adorable furry friends and get up close to one of the regions most iconic and lovable creatures was one of the highlights of our stay. We ate at the onsite restaurant, El Huerto, for both breakfast and dinner, which offered exquisite local specialities featuring organic produce from the gardens. The quinoa crusted chicken was amazing and something I’m determined to replicate at home!
The words ‘unique’ and ‘one-of-a-kind’ are often used with abandon. But when it comes to Sanctuary Lodge they couldn’t ring more true. The only hotel adjacent to Machu Picchu, it serves as a gateway to the Inca world. If you don’t stay at the Sanctuary, you will have to stay in nearby Aqua Calientes and either take a bus up the mountain or there is also the option for a several hour hike to the top. Guests of Sanctuary Lodge enjoy unrivaled, out-of-hours access to the citadel with expert guidance which is invaluable and worth every penny. Machu Picchu is incredibly busy, seeing up to 450,000 visitors per year and the lodge is absolutely a sanctuary in the middle of all the hustle and bustle.
We were welcomed with a fun pink drink in the courtyard garden before we were shown to our room. One thing to note, the rooms at Sanctuary Lodge are the smallest of the Belmond properties we visited. Oftentimes guests will send their luggage onward to their next destination and just bring an overnight bag since space is at a premium. We didn’t do this, and it was tight. As we arrived in the late afternoon so we took a walk through the orchid gardens and took part in the Pisco class downstairs in the restaurant before dinner. In the evening, dinner is served in the main dining room. The highlight was the live music performance with Peruvian flutes and drums and singing.
While at Sanctuary Lodge, we participated in the exclusive First Light experienced offered by Belmond: waking before sunrise, we were met by our guide to be the first through the gates of Machu Picchu. In this solitude, the mountains look otherworldly emerging from a cloak of mist. Guides are optional in Machu Picchu, but in my book are a must. You will miss the significance of so much of what you will be seeing without someone to share the background and history with you. After our guided tour, we returned back to Sanctuary Lodge and had a private breakfast for the two us overlooking Huayna Picchu. The space was beautifully decorated with fresh florals and the sounds of birds and flowing water from a stream could be heard all around us. After breakfast, we had time to rest before going back into the park to explore Machu Picchu further.
A visit to the world-famous site of Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime event so it makes sense for the journey itself to be outstanding too. Hiram Bingham offers a magical rail adventure. Traveling between Cusco and Machu Picchu, the gleaming train is named after the explorer who rediscovered the Inca citadel in 1911. Pullman-style carriages carry up to 84 guests in unrivaled style. Polished wood, upholstered armchairs and antique fittings set the scene for a graceful, relaxing journey.
We rode Hiram Bingham on the outbound journey from Machu Picchu to Cusco. Your experience begins at Sanctuary Lodge where you are invited for an afternoon tea exclusive to Hiram Bingham guests. Tiny sandwiches, macarons and more were brought to our table, along with tea of course. From there were bused down the mountain to Aqua Calientes where we had a few minutes to spend in the lounge before boarding the train.
Once aboard, we were shown to our Dining Car, but were free to roam the train and explore. Pisco sours can be enjoyed in the Bar Car alongside warm Peruvian hospitality and a lively local band. By far, this was the place to be on the train. We met fellow travelers from around the world and enjoyed watching the bartenders who skillfully managed to not spill a drop, even on a moving train. From the Observation Car down the way, enthralling vistas are absorbed as the train winds through the Sacred Valley’s soaring mountains and deep green valleys. Later into the ride, dinner is served: a four-course, Andean-inspired menu is accompanied by regional wines. The train’s leisurely pace means the 57-mile route takes around 3.5 hours, giving ample time to soak up both the views and the ambience on board.
Back in Cusco, this time we stayed at Palacio Nazarenas. Located in the heart of historic Cusco (and right next door to Monastero) is a lovingly-restored former convent with 17th-century architecture that gives each room and suite a distinctly colonial feel. The romance of Palacio Nazarenas comes alive in the impeccable details that are loaded with history yet indulgent for the modern traveler. I loved the archways of all different sizes and shapes and the ancient, but still functional, aquaducts that still weave their way through the grounds. The hotel feels intimate and secluded with passageways that lead you to hidden courtyards, the perfect space to tuck into a good book. Their on-site spa, Hypnôze, is through one of these lovely passageways and where you can enjoy a complimentary steam room experience scented with branches of fresh eucalyptus. I loved their turndown service with handmade Andean mint balms and heated stuffies to warm your bed. In the morning, breakfast is served by the pool with both à la cartè and buffet options featuring delicious and locally-sourced dishes.
We spent our final night in Peru at Miraflores Park. Located in Lima, this hotel takes its name from the well-heeled neighborhood of Miraflores that it calls home. Perched on the Pacific coast, this all-suite urban sanctuary offers spellbinding ocean and park views. Miraflores Park feels much more modern that its other Peruvian counterparts we visited and feels more like a traditional luxury hotel. The panoramic rooftop pool is stellar and the star of the hotel, but note, its deep! I’m 5’7″ and couldn’t reach the bottom on my tippy toes.
We ended up having a late night dinner at Belo Bar, located just off the lobby. The space felt refined yet trendy with walls wrapped in gorgeous blue molding. In addition to late night bites, Belo also has an extensive drink menu. I ordered a prosecco and it came served in a modern, yet delicate Zwiesel glass. I ended up tracking down the glasses when we got home and I’ve gotten so many compliments on them. They remind me of Belmond and Peru everytime we use them…cheers until next time!
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