Behind ancient Inca walls in the historic district of Cusco, Peru is a hidden hideaway, the Encantada Casa. The narrow cobblestone streets bustle with activity but inside the gates of the boutique hotel guests are treated to a luxurious retreat complete with grassy gardens for relaxing outdoors, a penthouse deck with sweeping views of the city of Cusco, spa services and an on-site restaurant.
The location, in the desirable San Blas neighborhood, is centrally located to see the sights. A few blocks down the hill is the Plaza de Armas with its famous churches, where locals and visitors have gathered since the reign of the Inca Empire in the 1500s. Up the hill is Sacsayhuaman, the most significant Inca ruin in Cusco that demonstrates the mastery the Incas had in building massive, tightly fitted stone walls. Surrounding the hotel is a labyrinth network of streets with cafes, museums, art galleries, crafts, small grocery stores, pharmacies, sundries and just about anything a tourist could desire. Many restaurants serve “cue” the local delicacy of the Andes, roasted guinea pig.
The gates of the hotel are locked for security, but guests are quickly buzzed in after being visually screened via a mounted camera by the front desk staff. After climbing a steep flight of stone steps, guests are greeted in the small but well-appointed lobby with a welcome glass of pisco sour or coca tea. The cozy lobby has two seating areas near a fireplace with coffee tables containing a few books with photo essays of the surrounding area.
Leading up from the lobby is a spiral staircase that accesses the18 guest rooms on several floors. Visitors who have just arrived in the area take the stairs slowly as the 11,000-foot elevation takes one’s breath away. Oxygen from a portable tank is available upon request for those who experience severe shortness of breath or other symptoms of altitude sickness. Helpful staff carry the luggage to the rooms.
Each room is equipped with a private bathroom with hot water, hair dryer, cable TV, Wi-Fi and best of all, nightly hot water bottle service. This consists of a classic rectangular floppy rubber water bottle encased in a soft cotton cover that is placed between the sheets of the bed. Nothing chases the high-altitude chill away better than cuddling with a hot water bottle.
A breakfast buffet is served each morning, filled with familiar and Peruvian foods to start the morning off. Quinoa juice, orange juice, coffee and tea are offered. Croissants, toast, fresh fruit, yogurt, chunks of yucca, cereal and egg dishes made to order round out the offerings. Lunch and dinner are also served, a welcome service for fatigued travelers who may be suffering from jet lag as well as adjusting to the altitude.
Massage services are offered by a massage therapist who is also the cook. Her strong hands can work out any knots that result from long travels, bumpy roads or excessive walking. The massage room is located on the top floor near the open-air deck.
An issue for some might be the stairs. There is no disabled access and those who have limited mobility may find that the entrance stairs outside as well as the spiral staircase to the rooms may be difficult to negotiate.
Encantada Casa is a luxury boutique hotel that provides excellent service to its guests and many comfortable touches such as the nightly hot water bottle to warm the bed, welcome drinks and continuous tea service. The location in San Blas is ideally situated to see the historic sites of Cusco.
Tandapata 354 – San Blas Cusco – Peru +51 84 242206
- Single room (1 single bed): US$ 90.00
- Double or twin room (2 single beds or 1 double bed): US$ 115.00
- Double or twin room with balcony (2 single beds or 1 double bed): US$ 135.00
- Additional bed: US$ 40.00