Lima to Cuzco on TACA, and the Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco
We’d booked a slightly later flight to Cuzco, thinking it would let us sleep in at least a little bit and a terribly early morning, but the one thing we didn’t take into account is that a 9:55 departure meant we’d be leaving for the airport in the middle of rush hour traffic. Fortunately, the trip was still quite quick and maybe 30 minutes at most, and we got to the airport just a bit over an hour before the departure of our flight.
The domestic check-in line for TACA was crazy long, and even the business class/Star Alliance gold line took probably 15 minutes, but check-in was pretty easy. Unfortunately, the flight was going to be rather full meaning the middle seat in between us wouldn’t stay open. Security took another 15 minutes or so, and by the time we made it to the gate it was 30 minutes before departure and we expected them to be boarding. Except they weren’t. Boarding finally started about 9:50, when we were allow to go out to…the bus. No jetways here. By the time we boarded and closed the door it was nearly 10:30. Not horrible because we had no place to be, but it was handled very casually as if this was completely normal.
TACA Peru flight 809
Lima, Peru (LIM) to Cuzco, Peru (CUZ)
Depart 9:55, Arrive 11:20, Flight Time 1:25
Airbus A319, Registration N520TA, Manufactured 2007, Seat 8K
The flight was almost completely full in economy, meaning the seat in between us was taken, so we shifted to the middle and window seat. It was maybe an hour in the air, so no big deal. During the flight, the crew managed to serve a quick snack/sandwich and drinks to a full plane, which was pretty impressive. The snack didn’t look appetizing and we’d just had breakfast so I decided to skip it, but it was still pretty impressive that they offered it. Overall, there was nothing special about TACA, but at the same time nothing really went wrong. To top it off, milage posted to United about five days after the flight, so score one for the partnership working as well.
Upon landing we got our checked baggage in 10-15 minutes, and had arranged for the hotel to meet us and transfer us so I can’t comment on how easy it would be to get a taxi. On the way back to the airport, however, we had the hotel call a taxi which was many, many times less expensive at only 20 soles. It was not quite as comfortable, but still plenty nice, so I think this is definitely the way to go.
When we arrived at the Hotel Monasterio we were asked to take a seat in the lounge / bar area while they got our check-in information. They brought us a pot of coca tea to help with the altitude, and sat at the table with us while they completed registration.
The room was spacious and comfortable, and had the added benefit of extra oxygen being pumped into the room to help with the altitude. The hotel was a converted monastery, so it definitely had that “something old” charm about it. It’s not usually my preferred decorating style, but it was really cool to be staying in a place with so much history. The beds were extremely comfortable with great bedding, and the only small gripe I had about the rooms is that both rooms we had were slightly on the warm side for sleeping. We tried to get them cooler, but no matter what they stayed quite warm despite the fact the temperature would drop to about 10C outside at night.
On our second stay, the hotel actually upgraded us to a small two-level suite for the night, with the bedroom and bathroom upstairs, and a large sitting area on the entry level. It was very nice considering we hadn’t requested it, and the bags we stored with the hotel were waiting for us in the room when we checked in. Big plus!
As mentioned above, service was amazing. From our bags waiting for us in the room on the second stay, to friendly staff everywhere (reception, breakfast, bar/lounge, etc) the hotel really went out of its way to go that little extra step from doing what was expected to anticipating what would make your stay easier and more comfortable. Despite some challenges in communication (English skills of some staff were rather limited) it was still clear they were intent on delivering excellent service and it really showed.
The location of the hotel was absolutely perfect, located 2-3 blocks off the main plaza. Just far enough away that the noise of the plaza was nonexistent, but close enough that it was an easy walk. Location was absolutely perfect!
What can I say about the breakfast – absolutely awesome. The only thing that was slightly lacking is that the staff seemed slightly overworked, and getting refills of coffee took a bit of time. Now, onto all the great stuff! There were amazing breads of all sorts, pastries, danishes, meats, cheeses, cakes, pies, pretty much you name it and they had it. Not to mention fresh squeezed orange-carrot juice that was amazing. Oh, and the first day…we actually had breakfast in the courtyard of the hotel with a musician playing soft music while we ate. It blended in perfectly with the old monastery atmosphere, and again although it’s not really my style I definitely enjoyed breakfast al fresco!
A shot of the courtyard, you can see the tables we ate at:
Restaurants / Bars:
We didn’t have any meals other than breakfast at the hotel, but we did have evening cocktails before dinner each night at the hotel. I really enjoyed the lounge space. There was a nice fire going in the fireplace each night, big cozy leather couches to relax on, and fantastic service. They also made amazing cocktails with pisco, and I really wish I could remember the name of the one I ordered over and over – it was delicious, and at roughly $10 for a drink in the lounge of a rather nice hotel I thought prices were incredible reasonable. There were also small bar munchies too, which were kept filled.
Pool / Gym / Facilities:
Unfortunately we didn’t check out any of the facilities, but there was a rather nice little gift shop that sold local items.
I think the best thing I can say that illustrates how much we like it is that we stayed for two nights once we arrived from Lima, and then promptly canceled the hotel we’d booked on our way back from Machu Picchu in order to stay at the Monasterio again – it was just that good. On top of everything, the taxi that took us to the train station for Machu Picchu was waiting for us upon our return, and drove us back to Monasterio. It was little details like that made this one of the most flawless hotel stays I’ve ever had. I’ve never felt a hotel went so far above and beyond with little details that you have a hard time thinking of negative things to say about it. I’m even willing to give them a pass on the room temperature, since I know I like my rooms a bit closer to arctic than most people do. Other than that, to me, there’s no doubt this is the place to stay in Cuzco!