The Sanctuary Lodge is the most desired hotel in Aguas Calientes, if not all of Peru. Though it is a Belmond property with impeccable service, it's not nearly as memorable as the Monasterio in Cusco. The building that houses it is not overly luxurious and the rooms are smallish. The primary reason anyone will pay the excessive prices here is for the location, directly beside Machu Picchu, which is hard to compete with. The setting is among the most unique and most dramatic of any hotel in the world, making this a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Guests are able to access the ruins at sunrise, before the busloads of tourists from the valley below swarm the site. Many of the rooms have small terraces, opening to pleasant little gardens with extraordinary views of the ruins and the surrounding mountains. Some feel the hotel, originally designed to be temporary when it opened in the 1970s as a Peruvian government endeavor for attracting jet-setters and investors, should not be on the grounds of the already endangered site. Still, demand remains high year-round, and reservations at least 6 months in advance are recommended during high season. The buffet lunches ($40), which are quite average, are open to everyone.