It didn’t take us much convincing to select the Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel by Starwood as our home base in Cuzco, Peru. I’ve been quite happy with the other Luxury Collection Hotels we’ve visited in the past. After checking the various pricing options, we decided to book using the points and cash option. We had to pay $75 + 5,000 Starpoints per night. The cash option was closer to $300/night. For me it was really a no-brainer. We booked this hotel about two months before our trip and I applied my Platinum Suite Night Upgrade Certificates immediately upon booking. We wouldn’t know if the upgrade would clear until a few days before we arrived. We weren’t planning on spending too much time in the room, but if we could get an upgrade, we’d take it.
I kept checking the SPG website to see if the rate would adjust downward. If it had, I would have rebooked to save money or points. Unfortunately the price didn’t go down, it actually went up, so I was happy I booked when I did. A few days before arrival we received an email that our upgrade had cleared. Our room was upgraded from the standard room to a one bedroom suite.
We took a taxi from the Cusco Airport to the hotel, which took us about 20 minutes and cost us about 50 PEN (Peruvian Soles) or 15USD. There wasn’t a train or a clear/easy bus to the hotel. The hotel itself was just a couple of minutes walk off of the main square – Plaza de Armas.
There was a ton of activity in the lobby when we walked in around 10h30. We were greeted by a gentleman who directed us to a pretty uncomfortable couch to complete our check in. He immediately offered us some coca tea, which the Incas used to help alleviate many health issues, including altitude sickness. We had a cup.
The check in process was smooth as can be. We handed over passports and a credit card and waited for the hotel contact to return and provide us our room key. Once he returned, he gave us the run down of the hotel, including info on the bar, restaurant and breakfast. Evidently he was stalling was because our room was still being serviced. We arrived long before announced check in of 15h00, but we emailed earlier outlining our expected arrival time and they were kind enough to accommodate us.
We were escorted to our room by the gentleman who helped us with check in. We were on the third floor about half way down the hall.
You enter the room into the front living room area. This space had a chair and a surprisingly uncomfortable chaise, plus a desk looking out the window. As you immediately walk into the room you come across a half bath, which I really like when traveling with someone. I don’t want to wait for the bathroom and it is just generally more convenient.
The main bedroom area had, what seemed like, a very large king bed. We have a king at home, but this one seemed much bigger than we are use to. This room was pretty sparse, with bed, a wall mounted TV, a couple of side tables and a small bench. There was a lot of unused space in this room.
To reach the main bathroom in the room, you walk through a very large walk in closet. I love closets like this in hotels, but it seems like I’m only in rooms like this for a day or two and when I’m staying for a week or more at a hotel, I end up without a closet at all. Do you unpack when you are in a hotel?
My hot button items when it comes to hotel rooms were really not an issue here. Anytime I wanted hot water, it was there – and the water pressure was consistently great, whether I showed at 07h00 or 18h00. Loved it. The bed was large and quite comfortable. I need to do some additional research to figure out what kind of bed this is and upgrade our home mattress. The final major hotel pet peeve of mine is electrical outlets. Each side of the bed had access to electrical outlets and my side even had a barely used power strip — I’m not sure if that was just forgotten from a previous guest or a new amenity from the hotel – either way, it worked out perfectly for me.
We ate breakfast in the hotel each morning, which had a lovely buffet setup with fresh squeezed juices (the mango juice was very disappointing – nearly flavorless), cold cuts, cheeses, made to order eggs or other items including French Toast or an omelette. We ate breakfast each morning in the courtyard, which was so relaxing. There were women in traditional Inca garb, weaving in the courtyard – you could purchase their products if you wanted, but they weren’t in your face trying to sell you anything though. The breakfast service was very attentive, but not in an annoying way. If you needed something, they were there but they weren’t hovering.
We had about 2 hours one day to kill before we took an afternoon tour – more on that later – so we decided to get a quick massage. It was really a hit or miss experience. The spa facilities are small – there is only one shower in the men’s spa. Granted, we were a bit rushed, but the masseuses were in no hurry whatsoever. The rooms weren’t prepared for our visit and the oils were very cold. There wasn’t any “spa music” playing either, so you’d hear the rustling of the massage oil bottles, then the ice cold oil hitting your skin. It was more of a sensory experience than I had expected. My masseuse was a very light touch, almost as if nothing was happening. It wasn’t all that relaxing for me. She would stop regularly to get more oil, or to wipe oil off of me. The experience was full of fits and starts. The 60 minute massage took about 90 minutes, which usually I don’t have a problem with, but we had someplace to be today AND the massage was mediocre, so I wanted to be done.
MS had a really great massage – none of my issues were present: he had warm oils, firm pressure, soothing background music – all in all, his experience was what it should have been. I guess the moral of the story is spa experiences are a crap shoot.
The final experience we had at the hotel was in the bar. Each night at 18h00 the bar tender teaches a class on making a true Pisco Sour. Evidently the Pisco was invented at this hotel…it was also invented at two other hotels we visited…just ask their bartenders.
The Pisco Sour class was well done at Palacio del Inka. The bar area was full of Australians, Brits and us two Americans. The bartender told us about the wine regions in Peru, where Pisco is grown and how it is produced. He then showed us how to make the Pisco Sour. His one piece of advice, was not to let anyone blend your Pisco Sour – it should be shaken. Blending it crushes ice and waters down the drink, or if they don’t use ice, the drink is lukewarm. I’ve never been a big fan of Pisco Sours for that very reason, most places do not serve them chilled. Our bartender showed us how you can use a blender and make a cool refreshing Pisco Sour. It was a simple fix that hadn’t crossed my mind. Basically, you put the ingredients (Pisco, lime juice, simple syrup and egg white) into a blender and blend until frothy. He then put a bag of ice (still in the bag) into the blender bowl to chill the drink. He poured them into an old fashion glass and garnished with Angostura bitters. The drink was perfectly frothy while being very cool and refreshing. A perfect Pisco.
I really enjoyed this property and will return without question. The rooms were well appointed and comfortable, the service was attentive and the location was perfect for exploring the city. Have you visited Cusco? Where did you stay? What do you think about Pisco Sours?