Before we ventured on our three week South American trip, those that had been to Cusco raved about it. And they were right. It is the loveliest ancient town with lots going on and beauty everywhere! We had two days before our 4 day trek and 2 days to recover afterwards. With this in mind our accommodation choices couldn’t have been more different! We picked a great low cost but awesome hostel pre-trek and a luxury boutique hotel in a gorgeous area of Cusco post-trek.
Because Cusco is the base for the majority of people on their way to Machu Picchu it is a very touristy city. Plaza de Armas is probably the tourist central of Cusco. But there are also great spots with a bit more about them. It also means there are lots of different options when it comes to where to stay in Cusco. And there is accommodation for every budget!
What is the best area to stay in Cusco?
I personally would avoid Plaza de Armas… like the Leicester Square of Cusco just a lot smaller! So the roads immediately off this square are usually overpriced for accommodation and very busy. However do note Cusco is a small city, nothing is that far away. Which is why I think it’s best to base yourself a few roads out so you can still walk everywhere but you can also enjoy quieter nights and better accommodation.
The historic centre of Cusco is a lovely part of town to stay in, just remember to steer clear of the main square.
San Blas is a lovely quiet area of town with super cute cafes and places to eat. And easy to get to by foot from the busier part of town where the nice restaurants and bars are.
Budget accommodation in Cusco: Kokopelli Hostel
The Kokopelli Hostel is one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed in! As soon as you walk in through the very secure door, you walk into the prettiest courtyard filled with sofas, plants and beautiful murals. It feels so spacious! And it’s just a 2 minute walk to Cusco’s Plaza de Armas so you’re close to everything you need.
After an early flight from Lima (up at 5am after our 13 hour flight the day before, killer) we arrived a few hours before check-in. No problem at all here. You can put your bags in a secure room and either head out into town or like us, you can head to the lovely bar on the first floor for an extremely good pisco sour!
Now I’ve just hopped over the fence into my thirties, I am pretty much done with the shared dorm thing, but a great way to still get budget accommodation and also the buzz and social aspect of a hostel is to book private rooms with an ensuite.
For this part of our trip we were travelling as 6 couples. No offence to our friends but as I said I’m over the shared dorm thing, and they have a few private rooms with en suites so we were all able to have one! And when we were shown to our rooms we realised our three rooms were next to each other so it worked out perfectly!
The rooms were so large and spacious with an extra sofa-style bed as well as the main bed making it great for unpacking/packing for our 4 day Salkantay Trek. It was also lovely and clean which is always what plays on my mind if I book a hostel. And as we were at the back of the whole building it was also quiet.
We booked a standard double bed with private ensuite for £30 a night which I really did think was great value. Cusco is actually quite an expensive city for accommodation because its the point from which everyone travels to Machu Picchu from.
Food, drink and other amenities
The food here is simple, cheap (for Cusco) and most importantly delicious! I had the most epic chicken, bacon and avocado caesar salad. The bar is a great place to hang out here. Cheap beer and cocktails, good food, they show sport on the tv (the boys were very happy as it was the last few matches of the premier league season, joy), there’s table football and pool and lots of friendly people!
So breakfast is included in the price… but it’s not that great. It’s very simple – eggs, yoghurt, cereal, fruit, tea and coffee. But remember you are at a hostel and it fills a hole until lunch.
There are two courtyards and a little garden with benches, sofas and comfy chairs for you to chill out on. There is a great vibe here.
Luxury boutique hotel in Cusco: Antigua Casona San Blas
When looking at where to stay in Cusco there are actually quite a few luxury options, however, I felt a lot were overpriced. But Antigua Casona San Blas is such amazing value and the most perfect luxury hotel post Salkantay Trek. I have to say thank you to Yaya and Lloyd for the recommendation!
When deciding where to stay in Cusco I do think you need to put the area of San Blas at the centre of your search, with Antigua Casona at the top of the list! The roads here are quiet and full of little shops, cafes and even yoga studios.
Two nights were not enough at this beautiful luxury hotel. As soon as we walked in broken from our trek to Machu Picchu, I knew we were going to love it here. The staff were so friendly and the fire in the courtyard was roaring away. We opened the door to our room on the first floor, and saw the big cosy bed and I wanted to squeal. Come to mama!
The rooms were large with everything you could need. The large wooden furniture and luxurious furnishings make the rooms feel welcoming and cosy, which after 4 days of trekking is exactly what you need. Our room was over one floor, with a huge double bed (my god it was so comfy!), tv and sofa area and a lovely bathroom. The bathroom had a selection of toiletries and a nice powerful shower. Bliss.
Our friends room was actually over two floors, mezzanine style. So I think every room is different, which adds to it’s charm.
We booked a standard double room for £122 a night, which for the location and standard of the hotel I thought was amazing value! We honestly didn’t want to leave this luxurious little haven.
Food, drink and other amenities
This hotel is full of rustic charm in the best sense. The courtyard has two large fire pits with big comfy seating around it where you can sit with your group or if like us, you’ll end up talking to the other guests in the hotel for hours. We met the best Texan couple who were maybe in their seventies on a trip with their two sons. They were old school and we all spoke very openly about world events and about their lives (he’d studied science but got called up for the Vietnam war, she was a nurse and he then became a police officer). They were so great to listen to and still very much happy together. It was one of those ‘I’m never going to forget’ moments. And I remember again why I love travelling.
There is a small but beautiful looking bar, but it’s nicer to sit in the courtyard in my opinion. You never know who you might get chatting to!
The breakfast here is a real treat. I know I keep banging on about the trek but after 4 days of very traditional food it was so nice to have croissants and real butter and lots of fruit and yoghurt, ham and cheeses. Oh and let’s not forget real coffee! Dreamy indeed.
Have you been to Cusco before or are you planning a trip soon? Do you have a preference between budget or luxury accommodation?
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