Lex and I recently decided to take a last-minute bucket list trip to Peru for Lex’s Birthday. We built the trip around the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lake Titicaca, and of course a stop in Lima. After having heard so many amazing things about Urubamba we knew this had to be the first stop.
Urubamba is located in the Peruvian Highlands at around 9,500ft (approx. 2,300 meters) and gives you a little relief from the higher altitude in Cusco. For this reason it is commonly regarded as a good starting point of acclimation to prevent against altitude sickness. Which, speaking of altitude sickness, we highly recommend the vitamin Flyby, which we will not travel without (also great for avoiding hangovers!). This post brakes down the perfect weekend stay in Urubamba to kick off your itinerary through Peru!
Any time we are planning a trip we like to start by looking in to Relais & Chateaux. Relais & Chateaux always serves up an amazing hotel experience in a unique setting with unrivaled service, and Peru was no exception. A quick search reveals Sol y Luna in Urubamba, which has become one of the most spectacular properties we have had the pleasure of visiting. Sol y Luna is an absolute gem and one of those sought-after dream getaway settings. The property has literally everything you can ask for: amazing dining options, spa, perfectly appointed casitas, and of course, incredible views. There is no better way to embrace the spirit of the Sacred Valley than to stay in luxury in the center of it all.
Let’s start with accommodations – the property is a group of 43 individual casitas scattered around 25 acres of beautiful gardens. We loved this aspect as we felt that the casita-styled living provided for true relaxation and a fun, romantic atmosphere. The regionally inspired architecture and artwork complements the landscape and immediately transports you to the Peruvian paradise most travelers only dream about. No two dwellings are the same. The casitas are beautifully adorned with frescoed murals by the wonderfully talented Peruvian artist Federico Bauer. The beautiful textures of wood, stone and clay yield to instant tranquility. The first steps into our casita took my breath away as we soaked in the paintings, decorations, and style. The contemporary design of the bathroom and marble textures offer the perfect retreat in the evening for a bath and rain shower before retiring to our cozy fireplace in the living room. Stepping out onto the private deck the sight of the Andes strikes you again, all in absolute perfection.
Perhaps the greatest thing about Sol y Luna is the variety of activities to choose from right on property. In fact, throughout the course of our stay we found that we really never wanted to leave. For lunch, stroll down the flower drenched pathways to the Wayra Ranch where you can enjoy spectacular dining and a traditional Peruvian show as the horses trot form the stables in unison with the Andes in the background. This was our first lunch in Peru, can you imagine?? We were mesmerized with the beauty. After a brief show we continued to relax and dine while a mother and her fowl played in the field in front of us, we were basically in heaven as we started into our first pisco sour soaked in the sun.
After relaxing by the pool and hitting the jacuzzi we were energized for the evening and stepped into the more refined dining offer on the property – Killa Wassi. First off, we can’t get over the incredible style of this place. A bright pink exterior introduces you to to vibrant lilac and purple hues inside with two floors of fun artful style. We stopped for a drink at the bar upstairs before settling in at a cozy table by the fire on the main floor. The food is described as a contemporary take on traditional Peruvian fare in the Sacred Valley. Every dish was beautifully orchestrated and a delight to the palate. Lex had prawns and house-made pasta that was to die for and my braised lamb dish was intoxicatingly good. Speaking of, the sommelier turned me on to the best bottle Peruvian wine – Intipalka No. 1 – get it whenever you see it on a wine list and I promise it will not disappoint. Every dish was nothing short of exceptional and the wait staff always on point.
While we were on property, we had the opportunity to learn about the Sol y Luna Foundation and the adjacent intercultural school founded by owners Franz Schilter and Petit Miribel. All profits from the Sol y Luna hotel go towards the Foundation. The Sol y Luna Foundation is now a major player in local development in Urubamba and the school and educational programs support children from neighboring communities in their education and social development. Through the Foundation children from underprivileged backgrounds are taught many subjects including life skills, nutrition, and foreign languages. Supporting this incredible cause through staying and dining at Sol y Luna was an incredible feeling. Look for the school on your left just before you are arriving at the hotel gates!
Depending on how much time you have to spend, the hotel can arrange a myriad of day trips and itineraries for discovering local Incan ruins. The Inca ruins at Moray are spectacular and would make for a great afternoon visit, or a Sunday stroll through the markets of Chinchero.
After a few short days that we wished would last forever, we were off to our next stop, Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu. The hotel arranged for a taxi and in about 25 minutes we found ourselves at the train station in Ollantaytambo – an hour and a half train ride lands you in Aguas Calientes, the “base camp” for Machu Picchu. If you have a late train out you can make a full day out of exploring Ollantaytambo and the spectacular ruins in the area. Lastly, and as a quick aside, we found transportation to be easy both to and from Urubamba. Upon arrival in the airport in Cusco we were able to quickly find an Uber from Cusco to Urubamba. The journey takes approximately one and a half hours and should cost less than 100 soles.
Stick with us for the next few posts as we continue to unfold the perfect trip to Peru!