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by The Daily Telegraph, August 30, 2016
1. Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, Urubamba Valley
Arriving at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba, high in the Peruvian Andes between Cusco and Machu Picchu, we find guests sitting around an open fire in the garden, wrapped in blankets and drinking wine. It is difficult to imagine anywhere better to soak up the tranquillity of the mountain-ringed Sacred Valley of the Incas. Once the epicentre of the Inca Empire, the area is speckled with little-known but spectacular ruins, many of which remain unexplored.
This contemporary take on a traditional hacienda – located in a former hillside cattle ranch that spans 100 green acres – is the latest offering from the wonderful eco-tourism pioneers Inkaterra. It’s a great place to acclimatise before heading on to Machu Picchu.
There are 12 rooms in the main house, while 24 casitas and bungalows are dotted around the flower-filled gardens, many with private terraces, fireplaces and wide views across the valley.
The style is 'Andean luxury’ – rooms are furnished with vintage Peruvian textiles, locally made furniture and the softest alpaca throws – heaven for curling up in after a hard day of exploring. The most high-end accommodation is the Owner’s Quarters, which sleeps up to six.
The restaurant menu is based around local ingredients, or 'earth to table’. Favourite dishes include the Pumahuanca trout caught 25 minutes away (served many ways, including cured, marinated or gravlax); the most amazing corn (in a pie layered with, er, guinea-pig ragu – a favourite local dish); and many varieties of potato (including a delicious yellow potato purée layered with shrimp and avocado), grown in the hotel’s own 10-acre organic farm. Guests are encouraged to visit the farm to pick their own produce, which the chef will cook for dinner. At the local chicheria (the Peruvian equivalent of a neighbourhood pub) you can learn how to produce your own corn beer.
Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba also offers activities such as white-water rafting and a visit to a local village, or you can just relax on the lodge’s beautiful terrace with a pisco sour.
Superior Deluxe double rooms from £320 (0051 16 10 0400; inkaterra.com )
2. Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, Machu Picchu
The only hotel next to Machu Picchu, staying here allows you to visit the ruins early in the morning and in the evening, when they are quiet. Set within beautiful orchid-filled gardens, there are 32 rooms and suites, two restaurants – one day trippers can book into, another just for hotel guests – plus yoga and spa treatments. Originally a government-run lodge, the rooms aren’t overly big but they are comfortable and the service is warm and impeccable. Read a full review and check availability .
Doubles from £372 (0051 84 21 1038; belmond.com ).
3. Colca Lodge, Colca Valley
A scenic three-hour drive from colonial Arequipa, Colca Lodge sits at the foot of one of the world’s deepest canyons and on the banks of the River Colca. It has 45 rooms, built in the traditional, rustic adobe style of stone, mud bricks and thatch, and every room has a balcony or terrace looking across the valley. There are two excellent restaurants, a riverside barbecue bar and an eco-spa with thermal baths in four stone pools, fed by the local volcanic hot springs.
Doubles from £130 (0051 54 28 2177; colca-lodge.com ).
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