Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Carretera Hiram Bingham KM 7.5, Aguas Calientes, Peru

You’ll never sleep anywhere closer to Machu Picchu than Belmond Sanctuary Lodge—it’s adjacent to the site entrance, and the only hotel on the mountain. In fact, the lodge is built on the former staging area for American explorer Hiram Bingham, who rediscovered the “Lost City of the Incas” in 1911. You’ll pay a pretty penny but consider the price a once-in-a-lifetime splurge. If you arrive the day before your visit to Macchu Picchu on the bus up from Aguas Calientes, you can be at the gates right when they open at 5 a.m. and get a head start on most of the crowds—and the sunrise. And if you’re coming off a days-long hike on the Inca Trail, the spacious showers and plush robes will be the best you’ve ever experienced.

There are only 31 rooms here, some with terraces and mountain views but all with exquisitely comfortable beds and marble bathrooms. The light-filled restaurant—only open to guests—serves both international and Peruvian dishes, and the bar is a great place to enjoy a pisco sour after a day of exploring the ruins. If you really want to stay in style, consider arriving by the elegantly restored Belmond Hiram Bingham train from Cuzco—the hotel offers packages.

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Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge

Most visitors to Machu Picchu opt for a day-trip. If you stay overnight at the sanctuary, however, you won’t have to rush, and you can wake up early to see the sun rise over the Andes before the crowd of tourists arrives. The Sanctuary Lodge, operated by Belmond, is the only lodging option near Machu Picchu. The lodge is luxurious in both location and decor, but it’s more expensive than the average traveler can afford. Even if you aren’t staying here, however, you can enjoy a great breakfast buffet at the lodge for a more accessible price.

Look to the Heavens

You may know your constellations back home—but the Southern sky is an entirely different matter. Take advantage of the hotel’s state-of-the art telescope—and the electric light-free setting—to check out the night sky from the flip side. A complimentary guide is on hand to explain what you’re seeing, and explain how the Incas interpreted the stars.

Call The Spirits

The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge sits at about 8,200 feet above sea level—all the better to try and connect with the sacred spirits that attracted the Incas to the area. At the hotel, you can take part in an ancient, shaman-led ceremony designed to ask Pachamama (Mother Earth) for prosperity and well-being. If you’re more concerned with your immediate future, book a session with an Andean priest for a coca tea leaf reading to find out what adventures lie ahead.

Birds & Bees

Along with acres of ancient ruins and jaw-dropping views, the citadel is home to a number of unique flora and bird life—and since the hotel shares the same location, it is equally rich in natural splendors. Take a tour of the private orchards or the extensive orchid collection, keeping an eye out for some of the feathered friends who call the Sanctuary home.

Afternoon Tea at Machu Picchu

If you ride the Hiram Bingham and are not staying at the lodge, you can do tea at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel on site. It’s a big spread of sandwiches, fruit, and desserts, along with tea, soft drinks, or coffee. While it’s not fancy, it’s still a great way to wind down and reflect on your time at Machu Picchu.

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