There are hotels — and then there are overnight experiences. From a high-end resort on a private peninsula on Lake Titicaca to a rustic homestay with a local family in an Andean village, Peru has a wide range of unique lodging options. With a little planning ahead, your travels in Peru will be enriching both day and night. Read on for our top suggestions on the most original accommodation options in the country.
Sleep on a Luxury Train
Why check into a hotel when you could spend the night on a train and wake up in your destination? That's the idea behind the Belmond Andean Explorer, the first luxury sleeper train in South America. It's a new offering for travelers: the Belmond brand, which operates several of the best luxury hotels in the country, just launched the service in 2017.
The service offers four different journeys. All are one- or two-night trips between Cusco and Puno (or vice versa) or between Arequipa and Cusco with a stop in Puno. Needless to say, the scenery outside the train windows is breathtaking along the way, and the train features a number of different ways to enjoy the surroundings. Sip a glass of champagne in the open-air Observation Car or enjoy a cup of coca tea while relaxing in your elegant private cabin. It's chilly at these high altitudes, so each passenger is provided with an alpaca shawl to use during the trip.
It's those thoughtful details that make a night on the Andean Explorer such a pleasure: the dinner menus were created by the celebrated Peruvian chef Diego Muñoz (famous for his classic Astrid y Gastón restaurant in Lima), the cabins' bathrooms are lined with locally sourced stone, and there's a spa onboard, should you need a little R&R after hiking in the Andes.
Check Into a Historic Palace
Cusco is the oldest inhabited city in the Americas: people have been living here for more than 3,000 years. It seems only appropriate to choose a hotel with historic clout during your stay in town. Like the Palacio del Inka Hotel, housed in a stately old mansion that dates back almost five centuries. The building has been renovated, of course, but its original stone walls are still visible at various points throughout the interior. And when you're lingering over café con leche in the courtyard, with a beautiful view of the palace — the lavish breakfast buffet is a destination in itself — you'll feel the magic of Cusco.
The hotel is conveniently located just across from the Koricancha, within easy walking distance of most attractions in town. For sightseeing ideas and inspiration in Cusco, check out this article.
Stay With a Peruvian Family
If you have basic Spanish (or less likely, Quechua) language skills and you're up for a cultural adventure, consider spending a night or two with a local family in Peru. Many organizations facilitate the homestay experience, which can range from simple apartment accommodations in Lima to more luxurious homes in Cusco with private terraces where you can socialize with the home family after dinner.
Aspiring Adventures offers more rustic homestay arrangements in rural villages in the Andes, including stays in Huchuy Qosqo, a community and archeological site outside of Cusco. It's a place known for its Inca ruins and lively Sunday market. For a homestay experience that's truly off the beaten path, look into a Chaullacocha homestay, which can be added during a trek in the Lares Valley.
For more of the best local experiences in Peru, read this round-up of recommendations.
Stay on a Private Peninsula on Lake Titicaca
Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and the cradle of Inca civilization, is one of Peru's most popular destinations. You can certainly appreciate this pristine body of water no matter where you stay, but checking into a one-of-a-kind hotel like Lodge Titilaka ensures an extra-special experience. This elegant Relais & Chateaux property is located on a private peninsula on a quiet stretch of the lake's shoreline, and every room offers a stunning, unobstructed view of the water.
The hotel itself is thoroughly luxurious, and it makes an ideal base for exploring Lake Titicaca. Don't miss the floating Islas Uros, islands built upon buoyant reeds in the middle of the lake: the hotel offers an immersive experience that takes you up close with the island's natives.
Defy Gravity in a Glass Capsule High Above the Sacred Valley
Thrill-seekers, this one's for you. At Skylodge Adventure Suites, you'll sleep in a glass pod suspended high over the cliffs of Peru's Sacred Valley. You'll have to get there first, either by rock-climbing up or by hiking up a steep trail that involves a zip line. You'll be handsomely rewarded at the top, so long as you're not afraid of heights. By day, you'll have sweeping views over the famous valley below; at night, when it's clear, you can see the Milky Way.
Each pod was built from aerospace aluminum and weather-resistant polycarbonate, so you'll be safe and cozy regardless of weather conditions. The hotel owners compare the experience to sleeping in a condor's nest. Just with down pillows and quilts instead of sticks and twigs.
For more information on day trips from Cusco, including adventures in the Sacred Valley, check out this article.