As one of Peru’s most popular destinations, Cusco boasts a range of hotels to suit every budget. Within the historic center of the city, you’ll find colonial buildings that have been fully restored into elegant 4 and 5-star hotels, old family houses converted into cozy guesthouses, and everything in between. Recently opened hotels, including Palacio Nazarenas and the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, have common rooms that display artifacts recuperated during excavations. A handful of large hotels along Av. El Sol such as Eco Inn and Hotel Jose Antonio cater to large groups of travelers, while dorm-style hostels like Pariwana and Wild Rover serve the backpacking crowd.
The following are our preferred hotels in Cusco, selected by our staff for their outstanding service, ideal location, and excellent amenities.
Aranwa Boutique Hotel
San Juan de Dios 255, near Plaza Regocijo, Cusco
The brand new Aranwa Boutique Hotel, opened in October 2010, is operated by Aranwa Hotels Resorts & Spas, one of the most luxurious hotel chains in Peru, known for their careful attention to their clients’ well-being. One of the best-value luxury accommodations in Cusco, this elegant 5-star hotel is housed in a converted 16th century mansion and is decorated with colonial era furniture, impressive paintings from the Cusco school, and colonial gold-leaf plated carvings and sculptures. This boutique hotel is conveniently located right behind Plaza San Francisco, a new upscale neighborhood away from the hustle and bustle of Cusco’s main square. With each room boasting an oxygen system and a variety of soothing spa treatments available, this just may be the best place to acclimatize to the high altitude in Cusco in a most comfortable setting.
Casa Andina Premium Cusco
Plazoleta de Limacpampa Chico 473, Cusco
Built in a large colonial house dating back to the 18th century, the hotel is ideally located in the center of Cusco, just a few blocks from the main square in the direction of Koricancha. Relax in the beautiful courtyard with its gurgling stone fountain, one of Cusco’s emblematic colonial sights, and get lost in the intriguing maze of corridors that lead you to the various patios. Casa Andina’s first upscale hotel in Cusco features 93 heated rooms with private bathrooms, cable television, telephones, hairdryers, and in-room safes. The hotel is equipped with a gourmet restaurant, a bar, 3 courtyards, and offers room service as well as many other excellent amenities.
Casa San Blas Boutique
Tocuyeros 566, San Blas, Cusco
Located in the historic artisan quarter of San Blas, this boutique hotel is privately situated, but still close to restaurants, bars, artisan workshops, and galleries. Only two and a half blocks from the central Plaza de Armas, the Hotel Casa San Blas is near all the main attractions in Cusco, but provides the peace and tranquility guests look forward to after a long day exploring Inca ruins. With gorgeous wooden furnishings, a pretty terrace area with umbrellas, potted plants, and colorful artwork, you will feel at home in this charming hotel. Guestrooms boast handmade colonial furniture and Andean weavings as well as lush bedding for a good night’s rest. Enjoy a delicious dinner or cocktail in the downstairs restaurant before indulging in a luxurious massage in your room. The staff at this excellent-value Cusco hotel will work overtime to make your stay is a pleasant one.
Cuesta de San Blas 541, Cusco
Located in the heart of the bohemian San Blas district, the excellent Hostal Amaru offers comfortable accommodation for a great value. All rooms are simple yet cozy, and the hotel features all the services necessary for a comfortable stay. Wireless Internet, computers, a safe deposit box, and complimentary coca tea are available. Only two blocks from Cusco’s main square, this is the perfect option for all travelers on a budget. Single, double, and triple rooms are distributed over a beautifully kept courtyard.
See all Cusco Hotels
Visitors traveling from sea level to Cusco at 3,400 meters or 11,150 feet above sea level, should be aware of the possibility of altitude sickness. Most visitors to Cusco experience only minor symptoms (headache, lethargy, nausea) which usually ease within 1-2 days. If you’re planning to hike to higher elevations, plan to spend 2-3 days acclimating in Cusco before beginning the trek. If possible, try to schedule an intermediate stop at Arequipa elevation 2,328 meters (7,638 feet), to ease into the altitude.
Drinks lots of water to prevent dehydration and take it easy as your body adjusts to the altitude. Drink bottled water only and avoid drinking water from questionable sources. Agua sin gas is mineral water; agua con gas is carbonated water — both are available for sell at kiosks and small markets all over Cusco city. Ice is typically made from filtered water and safe to consume.
Cusco is considered one of the safest cities in Peru. Standard travel precautions apply: don’t leave your bags and belongings unattended and take extra care in crowded places. Leave jewelry and excess cash in the safety box at your hotel.
How to get around
Walking is the best way to get around the historic center of Cusco. You can walk from one side of the historic center to the other within 15-20 minutes. Around the Plaza de Armas you’ll find Cusco’s top attractions, restaurants, and nightlife options. The area around the main plaza is mostly flat, but the streets become steeply inclined when you walk toward the San Blas, San Cristobal, or Santa Ana neighborhoods.
Be sure to carry local currency (Peruvian Nuevo Sol, or Soles for short) to pay for taxis, tips for guides and porters, small purchases, and meals at cafes and restaurants. Vendors are always reluctant to make change for large bills. For small purchases, it’s best to have low denomination bills and coins. Larger balances at shops, restaurants, hotels, and some tour agencies can be paid with credit card. As of August 2015, $10 USD is roughly 30 Soles.
You can find money exchange offices and ATMs throughout the historic center and on Av. El Sol. (Ask your bank about international banking fees.) For payments in USD or to exchange USD or Euros to Soles, you’ll need crisp bills with no blemishes of any kind. Bills with tiny rips, marks, and other defects will likely be rejected.
Cusco city is generally warm during the day and cold at night. Bring sunblock and sunglasses for day tours, and don’t forget your warm clothes for the evenings. A thermal undershirt paired with a fleece, windproof jacket, and long pants is usually sufficient for Cusco’s 5C/40F nights.
For the rainy season, packing the right clothes to stay (relatively) dry can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and a wet, miserable one. Pack long pants made of synthetic quick drying fabric (not jeans), a rain poncho to go over your head and your backpack, and an umbrella to use during day tours.
Some legs of your Cusco trip may require you to leave your heavy luggage behind, for example to take the train to Machu Picchu (passengers are limited to 1 bag or backpack weighing 5kg/11lbs) or for a multi-day trek. This is generally not a problem as most hotels provide luggage storage for guests at no additional charge.
Traveling to Peru in the peak season (June, July, August) requires lots of planning several months in advance. This includes booking hotels in Cusco and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), flights to/from Cusco, train tickets to/from Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu tickets (limited to 400 and sell out weeks in advance) and Inca Trail permits if applicable.
Best time to visit Cusco
To avoid the crowds and the worst of the rains, plan your trip to Cusco for April, May, September or October.