This luxurious hotel is a welcome respite in Aguas Calientes, Peru: “The Gateway to Machu Picchu.” Located just outside of the center and next to the Urumbamba River, the roaring sound of the current will lull you to sleep.
Its extremely comfortable beds with box springs, nice linens, and heaps of pillows are a perfect place to rest before (or after) an active day at Machu Picchu. Rooms also have all the traditional high-end amenities: cable television, in-room safes, expensive mini-bars, and turn down service with chocolates. The well-designed, decadent bathrooms have rainwater showers, marble floors, high quality aromatherapy toiletries and nice vanities with bowl sinks.
Even though there were so many things to like about this hotel, my favorite thing was the restaurant: Qunuq. The chef, Rafael Piqueras, created an excellent menu combining Peruvian classics with worldwide flavors—Andean fusion cuisine is the result.
We had a fantastic dinner in the elegant dining room overlooking the river. Creative, delicious appetizers were followed with more traditional Peruvian choices such as alpaca tenderloin and grilled trout. This was the first time we tried alpaca and it was excellent, and the trout was cooked to perfection. For dessert we tried the “hot tart,” which was a chocolate cake with a molten center served with vanilla ice cream – an absolutely perfect dessert. The other was a Cherimoya (custard apple) concoction with a lot of cream and homemade strawberry ice cream. Everything is presented in perfect style by the chef, and served by the attentive staff. A three-course dinner and breakfast are included in the room rate. Also, the bar offers welcome pisco sours to every patron on the first evening, and has many nice tables and couches to relax at before heading upstairs for dinner.
Breakfast is another treat. A plate of cut fruit is brought out to start and is followed by eggs made to order, yogurt, and a basket of freshly baked breads, rolls and croissants. The breads are baked daily, and the variety was greater than I saw anywhere in Peru. I was lucky enough to have a tour of the kitchen, and it was sparkling clean and extremely modern with every convenience. Most everything—from the breads to the ice cream—is made in house and from scratch. No wonder it tasted so good!