This 12-acre eco-oasis is on the outskirts of Aguas Calientes, the gateway to the famous Inca site of Machu Picchu. There are several hotels in the busy town but, having seen a few of the others, the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo would definitely be my choice.
A three-hour journey by train from Cusco, or a one-and-a-half-hour journey from Ollantaytambo, the hotel is part of the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and is a delightful place to start any visit to Machu Picchu. The five-minute walk from the railway station to this secluded haven of tranquillity involves crossing the railway tracks and walking over a wooden bridge before arriving at this leafy, gorgeous hotel set in an Andean cloud forest overlooking the fast-flowing Vilcanota river.
Inkaterra was founded in 1975 by José Koechlin, who pioneered eco tourism and sustainable development as an economic basis for biodiversity conservation. Built to resemble an Andean village, the hotel is 6,627 feet above sea level and comprises 83 whitewashed adobe casitas with red roofs, nestled in lush gardens spread out and up the hillside. The casitas include 25 suites, some with private plunge pools, 19 superior deluxe and 39 superior rooms. Traditionally decorated and as eco-friendly as possible, the rooms reflect the culture of Peru. If you are not particularly mobile, ask for rooms near the restaurant because the hotel has many steps.
The hotel also has two restaurants, a bar area and a very nice spa. Included in the price of the rooms are some excursions such as bird- watching and a walk to see the hotel’s famous orchids, of which there are more than 370 different species in the 12-acre garden. There are hummingbirds buzzing around the flowers and there’s a magical, natural rainwater spring pond near the spa. The hotel has a charming little shop, the Inkaterra Gallery, which sells beautiful wraps, cushion covers, bags, scarves and clothing. It also sells the hotel’s own brand of organic natural products, which are used in the spa.
There are two drawing-room areas where guests can sit and read, have a coffee or a drink (one has a small library) and are just up from the reception. Simply but beautifully decorated, they feature working fireplaces, large tiled terracotta floors, Peruvian rugs, cushion covers, wall hangings and huge copper plant-holders. Heavy wood tables and standing candelabra adorn the rooms too. This lovely hotel has a rustic ambiance and is eco-friendly, yet its sophistication comes across in the excellent cuisine, beautiful spa and the great service you expect from a luxury property.
- Daily breakfast for two
- Room upgrade upon arrival
- Subject to availability
- Spa Treatment
- One complimentary 25 minute de-stress massage for two per room once during stay
- VIP welcome
- An upgraded welcome kit in room with aromatherapy products
- Early check-in / Late check-out
- Subject to availability
- Complimentary Wi-Fi
Exclusive benefits may vary by hotel or hotel group. Exclusive benefits apply when booking the Best Available Rate and are not combinable with any hotel offers or special packages unless stated.
- Detailed Review +
- Facts & Amenities +
As I walked over the bridge to the hotel, which was a nice experience in itself, you felt as if you were entering a secluded, verdant, secret hideaway. It was quite late in the afternoon when I walked up the stone-paved path and steps to the beautiful reception room, which was easy to find. The room resembled a chapel, featuring a big, carved stone desk, banquette, cushioned seating around the edge and a large, heavy wood table in the middle of the room. I checked in quickly, was given my room key and was left unescorted to meander up the path to my room, which was up the hill to the left of the spa area. My luggage had been collected from the train station by a hotel representative and was delivered just after I walked through the door.
Rooms and suites
I had a superior casita, in a small block with other rooms above it and used a big iron key to enter. As I walked in, my first impression was that it was somewhat chilly. It was early evening, it had been raining a little and the room felt a bit damp. The altitude also makes it cooler so I put the heating unit on to warm the room up and kept it on during the night as well to keep the chill off.
My room was a good size, quite basic but sweet, with a window at the front with wooden shutters. White walls and plain white cotton curtains complemented the burnt-orange terracotta-tiled floor, dark wooden furniture and exposed eucalyptus beams on the ceilings. The room also had two comfy armchairs, with traditionally woven, Peruvian cushion covers, overlooking the little garden at the back through floor-to-ceiling windows and doors which opened out to the terrace.
A welcome note and a little branded coin purse were a gift from the general manager. The bed was against the right-hand wall on a light-brown wool rug. It had a wrought-iron bedhead and was made up with white sheets, a thin duvet, four pillows and a very pretty red Inca-style throw with a scalloped edge across the bottom. Hot-water bottles in grey covers were put in my bed at my request during the turndown service. I used a blanket from the cupboard at night. Beside the bed was a very small fridge with some bottled water but no minibar.
The room also had a wardrobe, two bedside tables with lamps and a table with flowers in a vase. Two chairs stood beneath a flat-screen TV.
There were plenty of plugs for charging electronics. The Wi-Fi was not amazing (but adequate considering you are in the middle of the mountains) and the phone signal was intermittent but OK.
During my stay I saw some of the suites and they were definitely lighter, more spacious and also warmer than my room. Some even had fireplaces and private plunge pools. The average stay here is one to two nights, so if you can splash out on a nice suite then I would highly recommend it.
My bathroom was quite small. The walls were lined in cream-coloured stone and there was a WC to one side, a walk-in shower with a rainfall head to the other and a window just above eye level. In between was a single basin with chrome taps and a large mirror that was well illuminated by side-lights: always the best lighting!
The products were Inkaterra’s own brand and there was a bar of soap, bath hat, lovely neutral PH-balancing shampoo and conditioner and a natural citronella mosquito repellent. There was a good hairdryer and two bottles of complimentary water. I had two bath towels, hand towels and flannels in the bathroom and nice-quality cotton bathrobes were laid out on the bed.
The hotel has two options. The first is Café Inkaterra: you cross the railway line to reach it since it is on the railway platform at the bottom of the hill from the hotel and overlooks the trains coming in and out of the station. You can sit at the bar on the high stools, at tables and chairs in the bar area or on banquettes by the windows facing the railway. It serves a good mix of Peruvian and fusion food and is a great place to enjoy a pisco sour or a glass of wine after a day spent trekking.
The dining room is a lovely glass-fronted, white-walled room in the main lodge of the hotel, serving Andean fusion cuisine. It is more formal than the café and, when I ate there for dinner, I had a traditional Peruvian soup and the lomo saltado, which was really delicious. I also had breakfast there, which consisted of a large buffet with lots of fresh fruit, cold cuts, cheeses, good coffee and really gorgeous pastries. I ordered an omelette, which was fluffy, light and delicious. Herbs are from the gardens in the grounds of the hotel.
Spa and wellness
The hotel has a beautiful UNU Spa. Nestled in the gardens, it has treatments such as stone massage and other massages, reflexology and facials using natural products derived from local botanical herbs such as mint and eucalyptus, local tea and coca leaves. The really fun experience is the little sauna, which is in a traditional Andean hut that looks like an upside-down basket. Heated by river rocks, it is infused with eucalyptus to help aching muscles relax and recover. The treatments rooms are beautiful – plain, with natural matting on the floors, wood furniture, white curtains and walls.
Pool and beach
Next to the spa is a natural rainwater pond filled with flowing spring water for guests to use. Because of this, it is not heated and when I was there in March it was too cold to use. It was also a little yellow, which it can be during the rainy season, and it had some debris in it – normal for a natural spring. However, above this are two small heated pools that were heavenly to relax in after a busy day out.
There are plenty of connecting rooms and suites, which are really good for families. They offer cribs, high chairs and special menus for little ones. The hotel’s own eco centre provides guides and excursions that are perfect for children aged six and above. The hotel offers a special Machu Picchu Explorer Kit (including a torch, baseball cap, colouring pencils, a magnifying glass, paper and granola bar in a little backpack). For an additional charge they can also organise a treasure hunt. There are also babysitting services on request so you can enjoy a romantic dinner and a movie night.
Staff and service
The staff were very sweet and attentive. I had a few pisco sours in the drawing room area by the fire and the staff were very attentive, asking if I wanted nibbles or more drinks. When I asked for an extra towel, it was delivered to my room promptly.
The hotel is full of adventurers, trekkers and sightseers, including small groups of friends, some single travellers, older clients, families and couples. All guests were dressed casually, as is usual in Peru for those travelling around. There were many nationalities including British, Dutch, Americans, Brazilians and Spanish, as far as I could hear.
I left quite early and the process was seamless. My bag was collected and placed in the reception area so I could identify it when I got there to pay my bill. It was taken to the train station, where I collected it and boarded the train.
How to get there
3 hour train journey from Cusco
83 rooms and suites