Editors' Picks

Belmond Hotel Monasterio

Spanish Colonial, tranquil, authentic

Calle Plazoleta Nazarenas 337, Cusco 08000

51 84 60 4000

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Indagare Adored

At a Glance

Cusco’s history is a richly layered one. The site of the Inca capital for hundreds of years, it had multiple stone palaces and temples. After the Spanish conquest, conquistadores kept the existing main plaza, but stripped most of the striking edifices of their treasures, tearing them down and starting anew. This history is on view at Monasterio, A Belmond Hotel, just steps from that plaza. The hotel occupies a landmarked 16th-century monastery, itself built on the foundations of an Inca palace. Centered around an inner courtyard with a towering, 300-year-old cedar tree, each of the hotel’s 122 traditionally designed rooms features beamed ceilings, gilded furnishings, original religious paintings and massive wooden armoires. Two excellent onsite restaurants offer Mediterranean and Peruvian haute cuisine, while The Lobby Bar is the perfect spot for contemplating Cusco’s complex past with a pisco sour in hand.

The Standout: The distinct rooms that each have different classic styles with exquisite artwork and historic architectural details

Don’t Miss: Walking around Cusco, exploring Plaza de Armas, the cathedral, main convents, churches and shops

Indagare Loves

  • Suites with ventilation system that pumps in extra oxygen to avoid altitude sickness
  • The colonial courtyard, where excellent dinners are served by candlelight
  • Daily live guitar music at breakfast and frequent opera and jazz performances


Consistently rated the best hotel in South America, the 122-room Hotel Monasterio melds history and grandeur with modern comforts, just as its fabled sister Belmond properties the Cipriani, the Copacabana and Mount Nelson do. Founded as a seminary in 1592, the building, which is centered around an exquisite colonial courtyard and surrounding cloisters, was turned into a hotel only in 1965. When Belmond took over in 1995, the company upped the plushness quotient, and during a renovation in 2002, a special ventilation system was added to pipe oxygen into 64 of the 122 rooms, making them the most comfortable option in a city whose altitude, 11,000 feet above sea level, may affect some visitors.

Set in a gorgeous colonial square just two blocks from the Plaza de Armas, the main plaza, the Monasterio is one of those landmark hotels that casts a spell over visitors the moment they cross the threshold. Mammoth wooden doors lead to a foyer—paved with centuries-old stone slabs—offering a view of a two-story, flower-filled courtyard. The cloisters, which lead to the guest rooms, are hung with gilt-framed oil paintings of religious figures, and as Gregorian chants echo through the vast corridors or nearby church bells toll, you may feel a wave of celestial serenity. You can sip coca tea under stone arches in the lobby bar, whose noble-looking red leather chairs seem fit for Francisco Pizarro were he to gather his conquistadores by the roaring fire in the massive stone fireplace, which is tended all day and where a harpist in Andean costume plays three days a week.

The guest rooms’ décor pays homage to the building’s Spanish colonial heritage with touches like beamed ceilings, massive wooden armoires and religious paintings and statuary. Each one is different, and the better ones, which have views of the main courtyard, are on the second floor of the first building. Twelve junior suites have a duplex layout, and two Royal suites have wonderful terraces. Some rooms in the second building, which surrounds a smaller courtyard, may feel rather small. Like a real monastery, this hotel casts a spell of peace and harmony over its guests, who may feel no need to leave.

There are two excellent on-site restaurants, a doting staff and services like a Peru Rail agent in the lobby who can arrange for Hiram Bingham tickets, so it’s easy to see how some visitors are tempted to hole up in the Monasterio despite the lures of Cusco. Other nice touches: the restored chapel next to the hotel shops, the lunch tables set under the 300-year-old cedar tree in the courtyard, a spa suite and the DVD collection of every Oscar winner and a runner-up from the same year. Guests also have access to the pool at the Nazarenas. The service is quick and courteous, whether you call room service or ask to arrange train or plane tickets. Only half the rooms are oxygenated, so you must reserve them in advance.

Who Should Stay

History buffs and those who will appreciate the hotels strong sense of serenity. Guests looking for a fresh room product will be more comfortable next door at the Belmond Plaza Nazarenas.

Written by Indagare

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