In the beautiful, historic city of Cusco in Peru’s Sacred Valley, the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco is a very special place. Situated in a restored 16th century convent in the heart of town, the hotel is woven beautifully into the rich cultural tapestry and history of Cusco.
Style and character
With a unique blend of historic grandeur and modern luxury, JW Marriott El Convento Cusco is a boutique hotel built of substantial stone and wood, filled with ancient Peruvian artifacts found at the site and surroundings, along with locally sourced artwork, textiles and furnishings. In keeping with the architectural design of most Cusco buildings, you arrive through a small, charming courtyard (with another larger, main courtyard as a focal point at the center of the property). Stepping through the halls of El Convento, you can feel the mystery and magic held in the stones around you, and be enveloped in its warm comfort and style. The lobby and main areas are cozily furnished with leather club chairs, magnificent carved wood armoires and bookshelves, and elegant chandeliers.
Service & facilities
Service is warm and top-notch from the moment you arrive and are welcomed inside by the door staff. Invited to take a seat for check-in and presented with a selection of mate teas, guests are treated to not only a reception into their room but into the very community of the hotel and its daily activity offerings. These include amazing opportunities to take a Monk’s Tour through the property to hear its stories and view the ancient relics for yourself, take a culinary or Pisco class, or have a personal encounter with an alpaca (my favorite moment in my entire stay in Cusco!).
Amenities offered at the hotel include a heated relaxation pool with whirlpool and a health club spa (by appointment) that offers revitalizing treatments using centuries-old Incan healing regimens. A concierge desk for planning, daily housekeeping service, foreign exchange and laundry/dry cleaning services make your stay hassle-free. A limousine car service is also available.
The 146 guest rooms are calming and elegant, in rich dark wood and soothing neutral shades with gleaming wood floors. The beds are like sinking into a cloud, with down comforters and luxurious bedding. All rooms have flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, iPod docking and minibars. Bathrooms are spacious, with marble floors and countertops and deluxe toiletries. I loved the huge whirlpool tub, perfect for soaking after a long day of exploring the city and Incan ruins. One amazing and unexpected amenity was the in-room climate control, which incorporates an oxygen-enriched system that automatically dispenses the perfect levels of oxygen into the room to relieve altitude sickness. With Cusco being located at an elevation of 11,200 feet (3,400 meters), believe me, this is not only a welcome addition but could be quite imperative. Many travelers to the city have trouble adjusting to the altitude and even experience sickness, so alleviating that at the JW Marriott El Convento is quite a wonderful thing.
Food & drink
The El Convento really shines with its Qespi Restaurant & Bar. Considered by many to be one of the finest restaurants in Cusco, Executive Chef Heivel Bedoya and his culinary team present truly outstanding and creative Peruvian dishes. The service, cocktails and wine list are equally up to par — there’s a reason why Qespi has a long list of stellar 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor (it was named 4th Best Restaurant in Peru through TripAdvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards 2016).
While the “farm to table” movement is a well-worn catchphrase in dining these days, Chef Bedoya and his team take a “culture to table” approach, presenting a menu inspired not only from regional dishes from around Peru, but also with a global multi-ethnic inspiration. I had an incredible “Culinary Trip Around Cusco” tasting menu one night, which was as delightful in its surprises as it was in mouth-watering flavors.
Don’t miss a chance to experience their amazing breakfast buffet either. They claim it’s the best in Cusco, but I would go further and say that it’s one of the most impressive and outstanding breakfast buffets I’ve experienced in my travels to hundreds of hotels all over the world. Going way beyond the typical omelet stations (yes, they have one but it also includes local favorite Peruvian ingredients), the offerings include housemade pastries, numerous hot dishes, fruit platters, pancakes and waffles with an amazing berry confit, and absolutely delicious smoothies in different flavors.
The location is perfect, as El Convento is situated in the central district of Cusco, steps to the Plaza de Armas main square and Cathedral, and within easy walking distance to some of the most beautiful streets, vibrant neighborhoods, beckoning restaurants and shopping for all those amazing Peruvian handicrafts. Cusco is also the main arrival point for exploring the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu; my recommendation is to hire a car to Ollantaytambo (a charming town, you might want to stay a night or two!), and from there take the Peru Rail train to Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu.
Rates: From $250
Location: Esquina de la Calle Ruinas, 432 y San Agustin
Phone: +51 84 582200
Going to Lima as well? Check out my review of the Aloft Lima Miraflores hotel!