Titilaka Community, at Plateria District, Puno
Sitting pretty on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Lake Titicaca is claimed to be the highest navigable lake in the world and a cradle of Incan civilization. After you've tackled the Incan Trail or toured Machu Picchu, there's no better place in Peru that Titlaka to relax and get away from it all.
Fly into Juliaca or take the train to Puno before being picked up by Titilaka's driver to transfer to the Chucuito Peninsula. The 45–minute leg from Puno to the property is breathtakingly beautiful — think rolling rural land, abundant baby farm animals and vibrant communities of colorfully dressed people — but a bit dodgy on some of the unpaved portions of the road.
Don't let the minimalist exterior or remote location of Titilaka mislead you — the hotel's privileged location makes it the ideal getaway for guests who insist on privacy; the experience is exclusive and unmistakably five star.
Upon check in, oxygen is offered to alleviate the potentially dizzying effects of altitude. After all, the 18–room boutique property is situated at 12,500 ft. The lobby feels more like a comfortable, yet chic living room, where guests engage in easy conversation, imbibe daily at a very civilized cocktail hour, or make use the hotel's Mac computer and free Wi–Fi.
Rooms are modern, airy and bright; décor is punctuated with fuchsia hues, the color of the sacred Incan cantu flower. Sweet-dream-inducing king-sized beds kitted in crisp white linens face floor to ceiling windows. These have spectacular lake views, with the rooms aptly dubbed dusk or dawn, depending upon the direction the room faces. Complimentary minibars boast red, white and sparkling wines, as well as an assortment of sodas and snacks. The only flaw in the layout is that upon entering the room, his and her basin sinks and vanity space flank one wall, while a separate bathroom and shower stall line the other. Despite the always appreciated heated floor amenity, the intermingling of bathroom and bedroom does not allow for much privacy. Some rooms have bathtubs, others are shower–only.
Whether you opt for room service or to dine in the restaurant, expect creative Andean cuisine paired with wines of varying caliber from Chile, Argentina and Peru. Memorable dishes on a recent visit included a smoked trout salad, fava bean gumbo, quinoa pancakes, and pumpkin ravioli.
About half the hotel's staff was hired from the local villages and their warm Andean hospitality is evident. Service is polished, yet suitably casual, complementing the intimacy of the hotel and its tranquil environs.
More than a dozen complimentary excursions include mountain biking to Inca Anatawi, rowing through the reeds, touring local colonial churches (be sure to visit the town Lampa — it's not on the tourist circuit and is incredible). A highlight is a visit to the Uros floating isles and home of Julio, one of the property's well–versed bilingual guides. Julio's family will welcome you to their island and share songs, dance, and stories of Andean culture and traditions. His sister, brother–in–law and 4–year old niece will take you for a ride in a reed boat reminiscent of the gondola boats of Venice, only more dramatic in design and kept buoyant by nearly 1000 empty plastic soda bottles.
Prices are all-inclusive of excursions, meals, Wi–Fi and transfers to and from the hotel. There's also a small boutique that features competitively priced local handicrafts, such as knitted hats, woven belts and brightly stitched pillows.
Far from the hustle and haphazard bustle of Puno, Titilaka is pure paradise for honeymooners, photographers and bird watching enthusiasts. Titilaka has managed to seamlessly merge the rich influences of the surrounding Andean community with an idyllic upscale experience, while respecting its undisturbed natural beauty as a carbon–neutral property. Sometimes, a stay at a luxury property can feel fraught with formalities and details, but from the moment you enter Titilaka, the slow idyll and sophistication feels just right.
Web Address: www.titilaka.com
Total Number of Rooms: 18
Published rates: $552 - $1127 per person, per night
Review and photos by Charyn Pfeuffer