- Five-star hotels have popped up in the country over the past few years, and several have won awards
- Belmond Palacio Nazarenas in Cusco, features butler service and one of the world’s best restaurants
- Sumaq,Tambo del Inka, JW Marriott Convento Cusco and Swissotel Limaboast idyllic pools and top food
- Inca Rail’s presidential train, the Inca Princess, can be chartered for a hefty fee and has several celeb fans
Peru is often considered a backpacker’s destination – after all, one of the highlights is a days-long hike to Machu Picchu in less-than-glamorous (but certainly scenic) conditions.
And even where indoor plumbing is available, backpackers know better than to flush toilet paper.
But as the South American country has become an increasingly attractive tourist destination, trips there have transformed. Now, travellers with cash to spend can live in the lap of Peruvian luxury – and in the nicest spots, you can (thankfully) flush that TP down the toilet.
Of course, tripping to Peru the five-star way – following the cue of Gwyneth Paltrow, who visited with her kids back in April – isn’t just about that once-in-a-lifetime Machu Picchu view. It’s made even more unforgettable with hotels that offer in-room butler service and picturesque pools, restaurants with world-renowned chefs, and private train travel – if you have thousands of dollars to spare.
Long thought of as a backpacker’s destination, Peru – with a stop at Machu Picchu in particular – is fast becoming a hot spot for luxury travel
When visiting Machu Picchu, Sumaq hotel in Aguas Calientes is one of the only five-star hotels in town and they do luxury well
Cheers! Guests are welcomed with a tasty pisco sour cocktail — and are treated to one every day of their stay – before being escorted to spacious rooms
What a view! Windows overlook the nearby Vilcanota river, as well as the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu
Guests can relax in the lobby or get really pampered with a blissful treatment Aqlla spa. Their massages, like the Andean hot stone massage, are a particular relief after a day of hiking
Two meals at the restaurant – breakfast and either lunch or dinner – are included in the stay, which costs $ 478 to $ 1,650 per night
The restaurant’s chef studied at University Le Cordon Bleu Peru and dishes out delicious Andean-fusion cuisine
The hotel also offers cooking and bartending classes, an Andean wedding ceremony officiated by an Andean priest, and nature excursions to keep guests busy outside of their Machu Picchu trek
Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu Pueblo)
An Inca citadel in the 15th and 16th centuries, Machu Picchu wasn’t on most of the world’s radar until it was ‘discovered’ by Hiram Bingham in 1911.
With its breathtaking views of the Andes and improbably-located ruins, it’s truly a sight to behold.
Where to stay: Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel
One of two five-star hotels in town, Sumaq is a go-to spot for celebrity visitors like Aishwarya Rai and has racked up accolades including a Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers Choice Award for being one of the top hotels in South America.
After being picked up from the town’s train station, guests are welcomed with a pisco sour – the country’s signature drink – as well as home-made chocolate in their rooms, where they can enjoy sweeping views of the Vilcanota river and mountains.
In addition to afternoon tea service, the hotel serves Andean-fusion dishes at its restaurant – and two delicious meals a day are included in the $ 478 to $ 1,650 per night price.
Following a day up at the ruins, nothing is more welcome than a stint at Sumaq’s Aqlla Spa.
Set with perfect mood lighting, visitors have a range of blissful treatments to choose from, including the signature Aqlla massage and Andean stone massage. Once thoroughly relaxed, they can finish off in the sauna or Jacuzzi.
The hotel also hosts other activities, including Peruvian cooking and bartending classes, an Andean wedding ceremony (officiated by an Andean priest and highlighted by live music), a romantic private dinner, nature excursions, and a ‘Payment to the Earth’ ritual, which is led by a local shaman.
Getting there in style! The Inca Princess offered by Inca Rail is the only private, chartered train service in the country
Travellers are waited on by a staff of three and served a meal and drinks during the one hour and 45-minute-long journey
Up to eight people can fit in the car, and past celebrities to charter the luxe train have included Gwyneth Paltrow (with daughter Apple and son Moses), Bono, Mick Jagger, and David Guetta
Gwyneth Paltrow (with daughter Apple and son Moses) is among the celebrities to have boarded the luxury train
While the view out of the panoramic UV-protected windows is certainly spectacular, the exclusive car also includes a private balcony – the only one the entire train
A multi-course meal is whipped up by chefs trained at Le Cordon Bleu school, and fruit, nuts, and various tasty sweets are served as well
How to get there: Inca Rail’s Inca Princess
Though there are direct trains that take travellers to Machu Picchu all the way from Cusco, Inca Rail offers a private chartered service from the Sacred Valley town of Ollantaytambo.
An obvious favourite of A-listers seeking privacy – past stars to charter it have included Gwyneth Paltrow (with kids Apple and Moses), Mick Jagger, Bono, and David Guetta, as well as foreign leaders – the Inca Princess provides an entire private car attended by a dedicated staff of three for the one hour and 45-minute-long journey.
For a $ 10,000 round trip, the car seats up to eight guests, who are treated to a fully-pampered experience. After being welcomed on board with champagne or tea, they’re served a multi-course meal prepared by a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu school.
While watching the stunning countryside pass by through UV-protected windows – or by stepping out on to the car’s balcony, the only one on the entire train – travellers are offered drinks from an open bar and feast on delectable chocolate, cookies, nuts, fresh juice, and featured items such as eggs Benedict (for breakfast) and expertly-crafted canapés (for afternoon tea).
Though trips can be made to destinations like Pisac, Ollantaytambo, and Moray (pictured) from Cusco, it can be easier to get there by staying in the heart of the Sacred Valley
The Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, can feel like a resort and it has its own private train station
Welcomed in the stunning yet homey lobby, guests are offered a cup of hot coca tea to adjust to the high altitude
Food and drinks are served at the beautiful Hawa restaurant (left) and Kiri bar (right). An enormous breakfast buffet of seemingly endless options of food (including a whole gluten-free station) is set out in Hawa each morning
The woodsy heated pool has both an outdoor and window-enclosed indoor section, and is situated near the hotel’s spa
Kick back and relax: The water offers a breathtaking view, but inside are also a spa, hairstyling salon, gym, and sauna
Some rooms – which have been a home away from home for Oscar winner Susan Sarandon and Second Lady of the United States Jill Biden- have private balconies
The Sacred Valley
Outside the major cities, Peru’s Sacred Valley is dotted with tourist spots rich in Inca heritage, including villages, Ollantaytambo and Pisac, archaeological site, Moray, and ancient salt mine, Salineras de Maras.
This Starwood resort has earned awards for sustainability and landed on TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Hotels in the World list for 2015. Naturally, that status has enticed famous names like Susan Sarandon and, most recently, Jill Biden.
Built in 2010, the hotel has an upscale lodge feel with high ceilings and cosy fireplaces. For $ 256 to $ 691 a night, the location’s large rooms have convenient walk-in closets, spacious bath tubs and showers, and seriously gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains.
The hotel also invites guests to make use of the tour desk to arrange outings, as well as the spa, hairstyling salon, gym, sauna, and positively jaw-dropping heated indoor-outdoor pool, from which the colourful mountainside view is a definite highlight (and Instagram winner).
Where to eat: Hawa Restaurant
Tambo del Inka’s restaurant has an extensive menu with a top-notch staff, including a sommelier. Entrées are served with organic vegetables picked from the hotel’s own garden, and adventurous eaters can try a local delicacy, cuy – that’s guinea pig – served in a less intimidating fillet form.
In the morning, the complimentary breakfast buffet is enormous. With several large stations serving eggs, meat, yogurt, bread, pastries, Andean favourites, and even gluten-free options, the restaurant also offers an additional menu of made-to-order pancakes and French toast, which are included.
An homage to the Inca sun god, Inti, hangs in the lobby of the JW Marriott Convento Cusco and is made up of 6,000 Swarovski crystals
Completed in 2012, the hotel was built from a 16th-century convent and still has ancient Inca ruins underneath it, as well as its own museum of artifacts
Football great Ronaldinho recently stayed in the historic building, which has a pretty courtyard and indoor pool and spa
With their sumptuous decor and tasty dishes, Qespi Bar in the lobby and Pirqa Restaurant both keep guests well-fed
A piece of history: Some bedrooms overlook the location’s original Inca walls, and all are oxygen-enhanced — which comes as a huge relief to those adjusting to being at 11,152 feet
The former capital of the Inca empire, Cusco can keep a visitor busy for days with its beautiful churches, convents, and temples – and hotel amenities, if you stay in the right place.
Where to stay: JW Marriott Convento Cusco
This restored 16th-century convent still retains some of its original structure, which sets the tone for a special stay as guests walk inside.
Check-in is set under the glow of a giant 6,000-Swarovski-crystal homage to the sun god Inti, and guests are welcomed with a helpful cup of coca or mint tea, which can alleviate altitude sickness. Prices range from $ 242 to $ 372 a night.
The property- which was named to TripAdvisor’s Top 25 Hotels in South America and earned the World Travel Awards’ Leading Heritage Hotel title this year- is also built atop Inca ruins, and tours highlighting its history are offered.
Of course, it’s not just the blast from the past that’s attracted stars including football great Ronaldinho, who visited in June.
Relaxing starts in the hotel’s rooms, where oxygen is piped in and guests can kick back in the tub with complimentary bath salts.
Downstairs, food and drinks are served up at Pirqa Restaurant and Qespi Bar, and can also be enjoyed in the charming courtyard.
And the large spa in the building has a sexy heated pool, a whirlpool, and a steam room, as well as treatments including massages, scrubs, wraps, manicures, and facials.
The Belmond Palacio Nazarenas was also built in a former convent and the fountain pictured dates back to the 17th century
Guests – who in the past have included the band One Direction and Gwyneth Paltrow – each have a personal butler
Decked out in sumptuous furniture, the unique rooms are incredibly luxurious but still pay homage to the building’s past
Some have balconies overlooking the busy city of Cusco, while others look out at the heated pool
The hotel was named one of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Hotels in the World in 2015 and has won several other accolades
The perks: Personal butlers will come to guests’ rooms to make pisco sours (left), draw an aromatherapy bath, or make a custom aromatherapy pillow (right)
Bathrooms have heated floors, a selection of soft silk and terry robes, and locally-made artisanal soaps
Outside the pool, a helpful cart provides guests with fruit, juice, and – most importantly at the high altitude – sunscreen
Senzo restaurant was opened at the hotel in 2012 by Virgilio Martinez, the chef behind Lima’s Central – which this year earned the number four spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list
Mr. Martinez’s menu has mostly Peruvian fare like chicharron (right), as well as fresh-baked breads and mouthwatering fresh juices
Where to stay: Belmond Palazio Nazarenas
It’s no surprise that both One Direction and Gwyneth Paltrow have chosen to book rooms at this world-class hotel, which has boasted a spot on Condé Nast Traveler Gold List and was named one of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Hotels in the World last year.
Also a former convent – with fountains in the courtyards that still date back to the 17th century – this spot offers coca tea, a welcome cheese plate, an extensive buffet breakfast, and oxygen-enhanced rooms for $ 600 to $ 3,350 a night.
But those are just the basics, when you consider that upon checking in, a personal butler escorts guests to their rooms with fresh flowers. The butler is then at visitors’ beck and call, should they want a private class in making pisco sours (using the complimentary ingredients already in the room – the snacks and drinks in the mini bar, too, are included), to sleep with a custom-made aromatherapy pillow, or to have a lavish aromatherapy bath drawn in the remarkably opulent bathroom.
That bathroom also features heated floors, a waterfall shower, locally-made artisanal soaps, and a selection of terry and silk robes that are quite difficult to leave behind.
Where to eat: Senzo
Situated beside the hotel’s pool, this high-end eatery is helmed by Virgilio Martinez, the chef behind Lima’s world-renowned Central restaurant.
Senzo dishes out mouthwatering Peruvian fare, freshly-baked breads, and fresh-squeezed juices, as well as a full tasting menu.
Swissotel Lima in the capital city’s San Isidro neighbourhood has a grand lobby where live music is often playing
The hotel has several restaurants, including La Locanda for Mediterranean and Peruvian fusion, La Fondue, Sushicage and Le Café
With rooms for $ 280 to $ 525 a night, Swissotel Lima also has a fleet of Mercedes Benz cars to take guests out in the large city
The spa, which sits next to the gym, includes a sauna, steam room, hairdresser, and outdoor Jacuzzi
The heated pool has both indoor and outdoor sections, with one of several waterfalls situated in between
The country’s capital is often overlooked by visitors, but it’s worth a stop for scoping out the pretty Miraflores neighborhood and partaking in the foodie scene – particularly if you can get a reservation at Central, which ranked number four on the exclusive World’s 50 Best Restaurants list this year.
Where to stay: Swissotel Lima
A World Luxury Hotel Awards winner in 2014, these accommodations go big with their welcome with a grand lobby with live music.
Upstairs, rooms have walk-in closets and cosy robes, while downstairs a hairdresser, shops, a gym, and a spa promise to keep guests pampered.
In addition to a sauna, steam room, and outdoor Jacuzzi, the spa features a picturesque, heated indoor-outdoor pool — which, due to the business leanings of the hotel, is often available to enjoy with some privacy.
The San Isidro spot, which runs $ 280 to $ 525 a night, also employs a fleet of Mercedes Benz cars to take ritzy guests out on the town, and serves up a large breakfast buffet complete with an omelette station and a special Andean foods section that’s perfect for sampling local breakfast favourites.
There are daily flights from US hubs Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami International to Lima operated by American Airlines and from Atlanta operated by Delta.
From London Heathrow there are several indirect flights operated by British Airways, Iberia, Air Canada, Air France, AirEuropa and Avianca.