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Inside the Orient-Express Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, Peru

Go To The Hotel's Web 
  Site Where: Calle Palacio 136, Cusco, Peru
October 15, 2012 at 5:11 PM | by | ()

First things first. Hotel Monasterio is the most famous hotel in Cusco, Peru. Part of the reason comes from its being of the Orient-Express Collection, but the property really distinguished itself when it became the first to offer oxygen-enriched rooms to combat the effects of altitude sickness, a very real obstacle to enjoying Cusco for travelers who arrive to the city's 11,200' height without acclimating. Airplanes actually have to specially adjust their cabin pressurization after arrival at the city's small airport.

Altitude effects everyone differently and we were lucky to only get super winded while climbing stairs, which isn't much of a problem as the hotel is only two stories and occupies a monastery built in 1595. It's got electricity now, and window glass, and luxury bedding, and other niceties of the last couple centuries (including free WiFi!), but the building has been well preserved and the 16th century aura is still very much alive.

In place of a Bible, there is now a leather-bound guest register. Instead of monks chanting, reception plays a little on their sound system every so often. And quiet contemplation in the courtyard these days is now accompanied by a Pisco Sour or coca tea (the latter complimentary and available in the lobby lounge).

Rooms here begin at $310 per night, which includes a very large breakfast buffet, WiFi, little niceties like the coca tea, and access to a concierge who is very skilled in making Machu Picchu arrangements (as we personally found out).

Check out our photo gallery of inside a room, but here's what we thought of the property as a whole:

What we liked
· Location. It's walking distance (down a small hill) from the Plaza de Armas and most major tourist sites in town. Plus it's on a small plaza that's quite pleasant on its own, with other restaurants and the Monasterio's sister hotel, Palacio Nazarenas.
· The breakfast spread was very generous and well presented, and it even opens at 5am in consideration for those guests with extra-early departures for activities like an excursion to Machu Picchu.
· The hotel's restaurant for dinner, El Tupay, is very reasonably priced. We splashed out, ordering for every course (plus foie gras), and the total only came to $50 for one person, which we paid.
· A very cozy lobby lounge made us wish for extra evenings so we could just sit in front of the fireplace with a coca tea.

Things to note:
· Small tour groups were staying at the hotel, meaning the public areas could get briefly crowded at times.
· There is a supplement of $48/night for having your room oxygen enriched, which is optional but very tempting.
· The Monasterio is so well known as a luxury hotel that we were careful when asked where we were staying (as one should always be, really)

Disclosure: We stayed as a guest of Orient-Express but all photos and opinions are completely our own.

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher]

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