Review: Belmond Hotel Monasterio, Cusco, Peru

'From its historic structure to the colonial religious art collection it houses, this hotel can’t fail to impress'

LOCATION: The hotel is a short walk away from the city’s cathedral and main square, Plaza de Armas. In fact, the cobbled square it resides in, Plazoleta Nazarenas, is one of the best addresses in the city and is also home to sister property Belmond Palacio Nazarenas. 

FIRST IMPRESSIONS: From its historic structure to the colonial religious art collection it houses, this hotel can’t fail to impress. The wonders of the building – a national landmark dating back to the 16th century – are complemented by the sense of excitement that fills its corridors. Guests are generally either preparing to complete the Inca Trail or visit Machu Picchu, or have just returned abuzz at having explored the ancient wonder. The excitement is contagious. 

THE FACTS: The monastery was built in 1595 and was founded in 1598 as the Seminary of San Antonio Abad. It wasn’t until 1965 that it became a hotel, with Belmond taking over management in 1999. The property, which maintains many of the original features due to its protected status, has 101 rooms, 15 junior suites, four presidential suites and two royal suites. Some of the standard rooms are a little on the small side, so an upgrade is recommended. I was lucky enough to be staying in a sizeable suite. Restaurant El Tupay offers another insight into days gone by as guests eat by candlelight, evoking the ambience that the monks here would have experienced. The hotel regularly holds operatic nights, with leading soprano Angela Medina often performing. The only real downside of the property is its lack of a swimming pool, but guests can use the facilities at Belmond’s neighbouring Palacio Nazarenas. 

EXPLORE: Head out on foot to marvel at Cusco. This picturesque city, a panorama of cascading tiled rooftops and whitewashed buildings, surrounded by mountains, is unlike anywhere else. Explore the cafes of the San Blas district, before enjoying the liveliness of Cusco at night. Just beware of the pisco sours – they may be stronger than you expect. 

WOW: Eating breakfast alfresco in the courtyard. An imposing 300-year-old cedar tree lies at the centre, offering shade to those who dine underneath. After dark, with a firepit and candles throughout, it looks like something from a movie set. Another simply beautiful feature is the on-site church, San Antonio Abad’s chapel. Visiting Cusco, and this property, is an absolute must – everything has the wow factor here! 

BOOK IT: Abercrombie & Kent offers a four-night stay at Belmond Hotel Monasterio and one night at Belmond Monasterio Park in Lima from £1,990 including international and internal flights, and transfers. 


Hollie-Rae Brader