Six blocks from the Plaza de Armas, La Casa de mi Abuela (Jerusalén 606, tel. 054/24-1206, www.lacasademiabuela.com, US$29 s, US$39 d with breakfast) has a delightful oasis of gardens and lawns. Rooms, which wind around the gardens, are of varying quality and years. The newer rooms are bigger, with a modern hotel feel. Older rooms are darker, but with a more homey feeling. The hotel offers every conceivable traveler’s service: excellent beds, cable TV, phones, laundry, massages, a library, a game room, Internet, a pool, and one of the best tour agencies in Arequipa—Giardino Tours. Because of all the activities, this is an especially good place for families.
La Casa de Melgar (Melgar 108, tel. 054/22-2459, www.lacasademelgar.com, US$30 s, US$40 d with breakfast) is worth it for a fascinating glimpse into 18th-century Arequipa. The house has 1.5-meter-thick sillar walls, vaulted ceilings, wood floors and shutters, and six interior patios. Each room is unique, with antique rocking chairs and armoires, vaulted stone showers, rotary phones, and funky stained-glass skylights. Room 104 is huge with a fireplace.
For those who prefer to be out of the city center, Vallecito is a quiet, relaxed neighborhood with homes built in the early 20th century, about a five-minute taxi ride south Arequipa. La Plazuela (Plaza Juan Manuel Polar 105, Vallecito, tel. 054/22-2624, www.hostal-laplazuela.com, US$30 s, US$40 d with breakfast) is a large home from the early 1900s that has been converted into a bed-and-breakfast with a nice lawn, sitting area, and dining area. The rooms are all painted in light pastel colors and have individually controlled heating, a minibar, cable TV, and WiFi. Airport transfer is included if you stay three days or more.
Hostal Solar<.span> (Ayacucho 108, tel. 054/24-1793, www.hostalsolar.com, US$34 s, US$38 d with breakfast and airport transfer) is a charming hostel some blocks away from the center of town, with a small library, sitting room, and rooftop terraces. The 15 rooms have wood or carpeted floors, sillar walls, high ceilings, WiFi, and TV. The kitchen is available for guest use, and there is a 24-hour doctor on call.
A charming option in the upscale neighborhood of Selva Alegre, just north of the city center, is Hostal La Gruta (La Gruta, tel. 054/22-4631, www.lagrutahotel.com, US$35 s, US$45 d with breakfast). This cozy hostel offers 16 rooms in a discreet 1970s house. Each room is different, one with an interior garden, another with a fireplace. All have carpet, fridges, and cable TV and open up to a small garden. It doesn’t really feel like a hotel here, more like staying in a guest room.
The entry to the El Conquistador (Mercaderes 409, tel. 054/21-2916, www.hostalelconquistador.com, US$37 s, US$49 d with breakfast) is quite stunning, crossing an elegant colonial patio and entering into the reception and dining area with vaulted sillar construction built in the 1770s. The actual rooms, however, are an unfortunate 1980s modern addition lacking charm. Rooms are a bit dark, but are comfortable with carpet, cable TV, and telephones. The original building is worth a visit even if you don’t plan to stay here.
Los Balcones de Moral y Santa Catalina (Moral 217, tel. 054/20-1291, www.balconeshotel.com, US$38 s, US$49 d with breakfast) is an excellent choice, located in a beautiful and highly preserved colonial house on a corner. It has a quiet reception room, simple breakfast area, and a row of huge, comfortable rooms overlooking the cathedral bell towers and also the Chachani volcano. Apart from being large, the 17 rooms have gorgeous wood floors, nice beds and furniture, WiFi, cable TV, and a telephone.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition