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Inkaterra La Casona, Cusco

Inkaterra La Casona is Cusco’s first luxury boutique hotel. This two-story structure is a meticulously restored, colonial manor house - perhaps the first 15th Century Spanish construction in Cusco that was built over an Inca complex. Later, it was occupied by Spanish conquistadores and their descendants.

Today, Inkaterra La Casona operates as a private manor for a limited number of guests. The large, wooden front door is always closed like a private residence, thus it is not open to the public for walk-in traffic. All facilities and areas are for the exclusive use of in-house guests only

In fact, to maintain guests’ privacy, no signage is posted, so be sure you have the street location for your taxi driver. One you arrive, you step from the street over a raised threshold and through a huge door into reception, where you’re immediately greeted and become immersed in the beauty of the place. Next to reception is a quiet sitting area called “Zaguán” an old Spanish word referring to the entrance hall of an old colonial house.

Eleven suites are positioned on two floors. A wrap-around balcony overlooks the grassy courtyard with a miniature, stone circle where incense burns near sunset. Contemporary amenities within the suites create an ambience of comfort and exclusivity enjoyed by residents in centuries past. Particularly lux is that each suite has a stone fireplace and a roomy marble bathroom with thermostat controlled heated floors, which are particularly nice during the cool season.

One of the best features of this quiet oasis is your own personal concierge who will make all your arrangements, from dining and excursions, to train or taxi travel. The service begins with in-suite check-in.

Also outstanding is its beautiful location on the serene Plaza Las Nazarenas, surrounded by Andean city sites and just steps from the city center with its iconic, soaring Cusco Cathedral.

But whether climbing down or up, remember to breathe deeply and take it easy as Cusco is at an elevation of nearly 1,000 feet and altitude sickness is real. That’s why just minutes after stepping into your suite, you’ll be greeted with a beautiful ceramic serving set holding the local coca tea. The Incas revered the coca plant as a sacred and magical with healing powers.

La Casona’s location on Plaza Las Nazarenas places it in part of an ancient Incan neighborhood. In the Colonial period, urban Cusco was defined by superimposed Spanish architecture over the Inca structures. When the Spaniards built their homes, they adapted the basic Incan structural elements and morphed these with their construction. Thus, the manor that is now La Casona was built and traced from the Inca layout with regular and linear geometry around the central courtyard.

Carefully restored to retain its historical heritage, Inkaterra La Casona presents modern luxury without sacrificing authenticity, capturing the sense of privacy and privilege experienced by those who once lived here.

We stayed one night in a lovely patio suite and the second night in one of the two ultra-luxurious plaza suites. It was simply stunning with king bed, a dining area for two, plus a stone fireplace. These exclusive suites have large marble bathroom equipped with two sinks, soaking tub, glass-surround shower with rain shower head, and thermostat-controlled heated floors.

Amenities include 100% cotton sheets and anti-allergenic pillows plus down duvets, stocked refrigerator/mini bar, CD/DVD/I-Pod player, Inkaterra handmade toiletries, lush towels, bath salts and twin closet, flat screen TV with cable, personal safe, cordless phone, laptops for loan at no charge plus free wireless internet, hair drayer, and Kimono-style bathrobes and Andean slippers made of recycled material. There’s even oxygen on demand.

The Inkaterra La Casona one-room Yaku Spa overlooks the central courtyard and offers private massages. It is beautifully appointed with candles, native ceramics and textiles plus lovely-smelling eucalyptus. I received an expert massage.

The Inca people began as a tribe in the Cusco area around the 12th century, and modern Cusco still reflects hints of its stature as capital of the once powerful Incan empire.

From Cusco, you can visit the various valleys and villages surrounding the city, absorbing the magic and mysticism of the Incan culture; or use La Casona as a base for organizing excursions to other Peru destinations such as Machu Picchu. (While there, visit the sister property Inkaterra Machu Picchu). Don't miss the staff-guided on-site orchids tour, some the size of a fingernail.)

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