Calle Ugarte 403, Arequipa, Peru
Until 2008, there was no upscale hotel in central Arequipa and the Libertador on a nearby riverbank had the high-end market to itself. The new Casa Andina Private Collection hotel opens up another option and is the best bet for those who want to stroll around the historic district without getting in a taxi.
Arequipa has long been popular with tourists, but has been a one-hotel town at the high end of the scale. While the new Arequipa version of Casa Andina's Private Collection branch has rather predictable chain hotel guest rooms, the suites and public areas are a different story and this is easily the best hotel in the central part of the city. English proficiency is quite good here and the staff works hard to deliver personalized service.
As with many hotels in Peru, the public areas are housed in a restored historic building-three blocks from the central square-while most of the rooms are in an annex of new construction. The restaurant, bar, and courtyard are evocative areas, complete with original white stonework, thick columns, and stucco.
Your included buffet breakfast is served under partial coverings in one of the two central courtyards, with portable heaters taking the chill off when needed. You can enjoy lunch or dinner inside at the more formal restaurant near the front. Unfortunately, this beautiful dining area has trouble coming anywhere close to full in a city with so many other options nearby. You can get a Pisco Sour mixed with flair in the pocket bar or enjoy drinks on a sofa in the adjoining courtyard lobby.
Most of the standard rooms don't live up to the strong impression or historic flair in the front of the hotel. Rooms are set up in a typical chain hotel rectangle, with average closet space and safes that require a key deposit. The catalog furniture is similar to what you find in each of the other Casa Andina hotels and it's tough for two people to be in the bathroom at the same time.
The amenities go a long way to make up for it though, with a hotpot and tea selection, robes, quality toiletries, and complimentary wireless Internet access. The beds are plush and comfortable and turndown service includes a silver tray of quality chocolate bon-bons.
Upgrade to one of the four suites in the original building when booking if possible. The Republican Suite (212) is the largest and piles on the most amenities, with a full living room, terrace, oil paintings, and large bath with whirlpool tub and separate marble shower. The three Colonial Suites have original white volcanic rock walls, arches, sitting areas, and baths with a separate tub and shower.
There is small complimentary business center for those traveling without a laptop and an upscale clothing and jewelry boutique. The front desk can arrange tours and excursions.
While the Arequipa version of Casa Andina Private Collection has much more of a wow factor in the public areas than the standard rooms, its flaws really come down to blandness rather than deficiency. It has a much more updated feel than the Libertador and is more convenient for exploring this attractive colonial city without relying on taxis or a driver. With smiling service that gets high marks from almost every guest, this has quickly become the top choice for high-end groups and couples. Until the Libertador wakes up and upgrades, there are more reasons to book here than across town unless you are looking for outdoor space, easy parking, and a pool.
Web Address: Casa Andina P.C. Arequipa
Total Number of Rooms: 41
Published rates: $189 to $449 BB
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.
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