Palacio del Inka, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Cusco

Santo Domingo 259, Cusco 08002, Peru

A Starwood Luxury Collection hotel in the heart of historic Cuzco, Palacio del Inka occupies a former palace, built by the Incans as part of the Coricancha (the centerpiece of their empire). Since ancient times, it’s had many lives—it was seized by the Spaniards in the 16th century, served as a museum in the 1800s, and finally became a hotel in the 1970s. Today, the property features artwork and artifacts from both the Incan and colonial eras, which guests can tour each day at 5 p.m.

Situated around a large central courtyard, the 203 rooms are decorated in a colonial motif, with carved-wood furnishings, jewel tones, and gold accents. Also on-site is a small but very nice spa with a hydrotherapy pool, dry sauna, Turkish bath, whirlpool tub, and showers with lighting effects, as well as a small gym with cardio machines and weights. While Palacio del Inka is just a few minutes to Plaza de Armas and its many eateries, guests would be remiss to not dine at least once at the hotel’s Inti Raymi Restaurant, which serves Andean and international dishes made with locally sourced ingredients. Before dinner, grab a drink at the Rumi Bar, which offers excellent cocktails and a free pisco tasting each night at 6 p.m.

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Palacio del Inka: Sleep Like a King in Cusco

It’s not very often that one gets to stay in restored palaces, especially not ones that belonged to prominent historic figures. But the Palacio del Inka, with its signature blue doors inspired by the Mediterranean Sea (the Spanish conquistadors needed a memory of home, after all, and what better memory than the color of the seas they sailed?) in the historical center of Cusco, has all the elements of being a perfect stay for the travel nerd. The hotel which is now part of Marriott’s Luxury Collection was constructed in 1438 by Inka Pachacuti, credited with also founding the site of Machu Picchu. It is a labyrinth of treasures, with archways leading to cool passageways, Doric columns, and heavy-as-stones wooden doors which are a beautiful cobalt blue color. The magical quality about this hotel is that it is as historied as it gets: it was built for the first governor of Peru, Francisco Pizarro, and became his domicile for several years. Fondly named “Casa de los Cuatro Bustos,” there is something really classical about this abode that combines Inca, Colonial and modern styles. From the moment you step inside and take in the lovely glass roof lobby with its conglomerate of artifacts, to the hand-painted murals in the President’s Suite, which represent flower and fruit motifs in a baroque style, every detail in the Palacio del Inka is breathtakingly beautiful. 17 oxygen-rich suites in this hotel are decorated with colonial and baroque elements with hand-painted ceilings, and each has its own unique Quechua name and a view of the main courtyard with a beautiful, tinkling fountain. These Quechua names come from elements in nature that were sacred during the Inca times including Phuyu (clouds), Killa (moon), Urpi (dove), Tika (flower). If you’re fortunate enough to stay in the President’s Suite, you cannot help but marvel at the murals that may remind you of the ones in the Andahuaylillas chapel, and with good reason. The artist in charge of the interiors was Mario Castillo, an architect that led the restoration of the chapel, which is known as the Sistine Chapel of the Andes. It is immense good fortune that this architect was also hired to do the murals at the Palacio, a hand-painted oeuvre that is not meant to be admired superficially. The President’s Suite also has two Solomonic Columns bathed in gold flakes; these were taken from an actual altar found in the hotel. At night, when you go outside and see the glimmering lights of the hills of Cusco all around you, you realize how special and sacred it all is.

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