Hotels in Urubamba tend toward upscale, and finding a budget hotel can be tricky. A good option is the shared room at La Posada de las Tres Marias (Zavala 307, tel. 084/20-1006, posada3marias [at] yahoo [dot] com, US$10 pp with breakfast). This converted house has a large dining room, which opens onto a huge garden complete with a patio and tables for an afternoon beer and card playing. The hotel also has private rooms, but they are overpriced for their value.
Los Geranios Hostel (Cabo Conchatupa s/n, tel. 084/20-1093, US$14 s, US$21 d), best known for its lunch buffets, has a few rooms with lots of sunlight, private baths, and hot water. The backyard spills onto the Urubamba riverbanks.
If you’ve ever wanted to live in a tree house, Las Chullpas (Gonzalo Muñoz, tel. 084/20-1568, www.chullpas.uhupi.com, US$45 s/d) is your chance. Chalo, a Chilean, and his German wife, Leonie, have created a lovely set of 10 bungalows, interlaced with gardens, whose tree-trunk floors, tile mosaics, and adobe walls remind you that nature is very playful. One room has a slide in the bathroom, and all beds are covered with homemade alpaca duvets. Sitting in the gardens and watching the hummingbirds is a real treat.
The Hotel San Agustín Monasterio de la Recoleta (Recoleta s/n, tel. 084/20-1004, www.hotelessanagustin.com.pe, US$120 s, US$144 d) occupies a stunning, 16th-century Franciscan monastery, though erratic service continues to keep guests away. There is a modern addition with a few spectacular rooms upstairs, outfitted with exposed beams, stone showers, and sun windows. Rooms in the old section are surrounded by a stone courtyard and cannot be renovated because of historical restrictions—they are nicer than the bland modern rooms. All rooms have private baths.
Mexican owner Claudia calls her flower-lined, central walkway the hummingbird corridor. She’s right. Walking down it, you’re almost guaranteed to see the world’s largest hummingbirds. But even better is when the birds flit around your private house, which is what Claudia and her architect husband rent to their lucky guests.
Kuychi Rumi Lodging (Km 74.5 Urubamba Ollantaytambo Highway, tel. 084/20-1169, www.urubamba.com, US$154 s or d) offers six fully-equipped houses with two bedrooms, a sitting room, and a kitchenette. Tastefully designed and decorated, the houses are meant for a several-day stay, but even if you only have a night, they are worth the privacy and comfort.
Our vote for the most elegant, luxurious hotel in the Sacred Valley goes to the Sol y Luna Hotel (tel. 084/20-1620, www.hotelsolyluna.com, US$200 s/d to US$750 for a new deluxe suite, with breakfast), opened in 2000 by Marie-Hélène Miribel and Franz Schilter. This French-Swiss couple have carefully designed every last detail of their 43 bungalows, including terra-cotta tiles, exposed beams, marble bathrooms, and king-size beds. Stay at the newly created luxury bungalows, which include a hot tub on your patio.
The US$27 poolside buffet is exquisite, a using local produce from the valley. It also has a dessert spread that includes cake made from lúcuma, the intoxicatingly tasty fruit. Groups are often treated to pachamanca cooking with marinera dance demonstrations.
Plan on spending time here to stroll through the hotel’s gardens, lounge by the pool, work out at the gym, or check into the spa, which includes a whirlpool tub and massage. There are 20 Peruvian horses (caballos de paso) lodged in elegant stables in the back and available for half- and full-day rides.
If that is not enough, the hotel also rents mountain bikes, coordinates cultural trips to a local school and orphanage, and offers paragliding outings with the owners, Cusco’s only internationally certified instructors. Through an associated nonprofit organization, the hotel has also recently created a local school and engaged in other philanthropic efforts.
Another new upscale option is the Libertador Tambo del Inka (Av. Ferrocarril, tel. 84/58-1777, www.luxurycollection.com/vallesagrado, US$455 to US$565 s), designed by Bernard Fort on the banks of the Urubamba. The elegant lobby, with 12-meter ceilings, mixed international standards with Peruvian decor. The 128 rooms and suites all have either a balcony or a terrace, and all come with WiFi, cable TV, and iPod docks. This luxury hotel has a 1,800-square-meter spa offering massages, pool and Jacuzzi. At night, hit the Bar Kiri, with its outstanding back-lit onyx wall.
In Yanahuara, just 15 minutes outside of Urubamba on the road to Ollantaytambo, the hotel chain Casa Andina has constructed one of its Private Collection hotels (5th Paradero, tel. 084/976-5501, www.casa-andina.com, US$200 s d with breakfast). The result is a labyrinth of glassed lobbies, gardens, spa center, and planetarium. You might just have to spend two nights to take advantage of it all.
There’s so much to do, you’ll have to make sure you don’t spend all your energy sightseeing. It’s also very child friendly with a small playground, llamas, and lots of open space.
In Huayllabamba, the Aranwa (tel. 01/434-1452, www.aranwahotels.com, US$160 s/d) chain of hotels has opened a new 100-bedroom, 15-suite complex that includes one of the largest spas in the Sacred Valley. The luxury hotel includes a business center, three restaurants, a sushi bar, and even a cinema. The newer buildings are built around a historic hacienda. There is no formal address for this hotel, but you will find it on the main road between Huayllabamba and Urubamba.
Rio Sagrado (Km 75.8 Cusco–Urubamba Highway, tel. 084/20-1631, www.riosagrado.com, US$205 s) is the latest in the Orient-Express line of hotels, located on the outskirts of Urubamba. It’s a newly built hotel with a mixture of high-quality rooms, suites, and two-story bungalows. As seems to be the fashion in the valley, they have also created a spa.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition