Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Peru

A delightful museum hotel steeped in Cusco's Incan and Spanish history

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Belmond Hotel Monasterio
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Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Location

Two blocks from Cusco's central square

Travel Information

Cusco airport - 10 mins

Top Tips

Explore the fine museums and restaurants of Cusco

5-Star X-Factors

Hotel Monasterio is a former monastery and national museum, dating from 1592

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

A former colonial monastery with Incan foundations, Belmond Hotel Monasterio combines history and architectural magnificence with the elegance and comfort of a modern 5-star luxury hotel. Inside you'll find inspired restaurants and boutique rooms and suites, all clustered around a tranquil courtyard.

Our visit to the wondrous UNESCO World Heritage site at Machu Picchu resonated long after we descended into the town to the train station. There we were escorted to a private lounge with champagne on offer where we awaited to board the famous train, Hiram Bingham, back to Cusco. This luxury train is a glamorous throw back to the 1920’s with its perfectly polished Pullman style carriages. The journey takes three and a half hours where you relax, drink and dance to live music in the bar car and eat a gourmet meal at your own elegant table booth decorated in polished wood, fine fabrics and antique fittings. I felt transported back in time as we gracefully rode through the valley floor knowing this was yet another experience of a lifetime.

Again wonderful staff met us at the station and escorted us to the main centre of Cusco where we checked into the peaceful and stylish Belmond Hotel Monasterio. The buildings were originally built in 1692 as a seminary and it operated that way for hundreds of years. Then an earthquake in the 1950’s caused it to shut until it was restored as a hotel in the 1970’s. The buildings center on a courtyard in the middle surrounded by archways where food and drinks are served throughout the day and night. Soft chanting music can be heard in the background giving it a meditative ambience. The hotel boasts its original 17th and 18th century artwork throughout its hallways and in its gold filled chapel, which is still functioning today.

All of the rooms vary between size and shape, shower or bath, air conditioning or windows overlooking the city but equally all have luxe beds and amenities to enjoy. Our junior suite number 431 is worth mentioning because of its large double window that opened up to an incredible city view and bi-level spacious accommodation. For me it was perfection.

Cusco is a small city that used to be the capital of the Incan Empire and is now a fusion of its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. It looks almost frozen in time with its cobblestone streets and clay-tiled roofs and is filled with local artisans selling colorful textiles on every street corner sitting next to their pet llama. There is a culinary scene to be found here with famous South American chefs opening restaurants every month and the food is contemporary and authentic using the spices and ingredients popular in the region.

We had three full days to explore which allowed for time to just wander. The city streets are filled with Incan relics amongst the colonial splendours of the Spanish conquest. Seemingly a contradiction in culture as ornate gilded churches command the space whilst Incan textiles are being made and sold on their steps outside, but somehow there is synchronicity. The area of San Blas, especially the narrow lanes near where the church of San Blas sits, is filled with artists, naturopaths selling natural remedies for all sorts of ailments, hippies selling cool crystals and jewelry and funky clothing stores. More local than toursity there are gems to be found. The main Plaza de Armas is the center of the city and is a short walk away where there is a always a colorful festival celebrating Peruvian life. Near to there is also an excellent South American coffee bar at the Museum of Coffee! The San Pedro market is well worth a visit - it’s a massive warehouse type covered space selling everything from meats and cheeses, fruits and veg, to soup, fresh juices to all the textiles and souvenirs you’d want to purchase. Locals and tourists alike shop there and they expect to bargain for most items.

I visited with the head chef from the Hotel Monasterio who chose the food we were going to prepare for my cooking lesson later that day. I loved watching the interaction between him and the vendors and learned a lot about how he chose his food. I can honestly say the freshness of the meat, herbs and spices and the simplicity of the traditional Peruvian cooking (included of course potato as there are over 3,000 different types and quinoa - three main types and a national favorite) made for a beautiful meal that even I could replicate at home.

The Hotel Monasterio is home to a splendid restaurant called El Tupay for fine dining, but if you are interested in exploring the city I recommend Pachapapa for authentic Peruvian BBQ and local dishes and Cicciolina, an open kitchen tapas experience with a great wine menu and incredible trout ceviche as two of my favorite spots.