Palacio del Inka

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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.

Room rates from $184 per night
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