Plaza Nazarenas 113, Cusco, Peru
Run by Peru's leading homegrown luxury travel company, this intimate inn across the square from Monasterio finally gave that leading hotel some competition when it opened. In a historic building but filled with gadget-packed suites, La Casona presents a welcome alternative for high–end travelers in Peru's most popular city.
Located behind an unassuming wooden door that didn't even have a sign posted the first year it was open, Inkaterra La Casona is easy to miss. The anonymity is fitting at this privileged address, where only 11 suites are housed in one of Cusco's oldest buildings, across Nazarene Plaza from the Belmond hotel Monasterio and Nazarenas. Just a few blocks from the main square in one direction and San Blas in the other, it's a convenient location but is removed from the hubbub of constant foot and car traffic.
The first impression inside is one of careful restoration and a strong sense of place. The whitewashed ceiling of the lobby lounge contains original crooked beams that have been there since the 16th century. Stone columns and carved antique wooden doors give an impression of solid construction and craftsmanship, while local textiles, rugs, and pottery scattered about are of the highest quality. A fireplace crackles when the weather is cool and strategic lighting creates a dramatic look at night. Teatime is from 4:00 to 6:00 each day.
The lobby leads to a traditional courtyard, with stone arches along the ground floor, stone and carved wood along the balcony above. The courtyard in the middle is covered with grass and candles flicker along the halls of the surrounding square in the evenings. A dining room inside offers outdoor seating in the courtyard when weather permits, plus a fully–stocked bar is at one end. Dozens of other dining and drinking options lie within a few blocks for those with the energy to explore. Massages treatments are available in a dedicated area.
The main reason you will probably book here though is to take advantage of the newest (and in some respects the best) suites in Cusco. None has a walled-off living room, but all of them are sumptuous and spacious, outfitted with fine fabrics, Spanish colonial antiques, and oil paintings or framed textiles on the walls. King or two double beds are topped by feature duvets and an array of eight pillows. Comfortable sofas and chairs from today's world mix with heavy carved wood coffee tables and benches from centuries ago. Radial heat emanates from under the floors, which are hardwood in the sitting and sleeping areas, hardwood and unpolished stone in the baths. Every suite has a fireplace.
The inviting bathrooms are almost as large as the main room, with plenty of space for two people to move around without bumping into each other. They feature freestanding tubs, separate marble showers, double basins, and WCs with a door. Robes, slippers, and thick fluffy towels join soap wrapped in local handmade paper and refilled toiletries in clay pots.
Rooms here definitely win best in show on the amenities count, with huge plasma TVs with CD/DVD players, music docks, complimentary stocked minibars, cordless phones with voice mail, electronic safes, and complimentary Wi–Fi. Maids come through three times daily and room service is available.
The suites are all similar in size and layout, with the main advantage of the two plaza suites being a view of the square. The others overlook the inner courtyard. Rooms on the balcony level are a higher rate than those on the ground floor (and none of the rates are anything close to a bargain).
While La Casona can't boast the range of public areas and facilities available at Monasterio Hotel and sister Nazarenas, — this Relais & Chateaux property has few other competitors operating at this level for a small hotel.
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.