A wide range of places to stay—including world-class luxury hotels in modern high-rise buildings and 16th-century monasteries and manor houses, affordable small hotels in colonial houses, rustic rural lodges, and inexpensive budget inns—can be found in Peru. Mid-range options have expanded in recent years, but the large majority of accommodations still court budget travelers and backpackers (outside Lima’s hosting of international business travelers).
Those places go by many names in Peru. Hotel generally refers only to comfortable hotels with a range of services, but hostal (or hostales, plural) is used for a wide variety of smaller hotels, inns, and pensions. (Note that hostal is distinct from the English-language term “hostel.”) At the lower end are mostly hospedajes, pensiones, and residenciales. However, these terms are often poor indicators—if they are indicators at all—of an establishment’s quality or services. Required signs outside reflect these categories: H (hotel), HS (hostal), HR (hotel residencial), and P (pensión). As in most countries, the government’s hotel-rating system means that establishments are awarded stars for the presence of certain criteria—a pool, restaurant, elevator, and so on—more than for standards of luxury. Thus, it is not always true that the hotel with the most stars is necessarily the most comfortable or elegant. Luxury hotels were once exceedingly rare outside Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu, but that is no longer the case; budget accommodations are plentiful across the country, and many of them are quite good for the price. Some represent amazing values at less than $60 a night for a double—with a dose of local character and breakfast, to boot. (Most hotels in Peru include breakfast in their rates. Breakfast may range from a huge buffet—and not just at the largest and most luxurious hotels—to a continental breakfast or more austere, European-style breakfast of coffee, bread, and jam.)
The great majority of hotels in Peru are small and midsize independent inns; few international hotel chains operate in Peru. You’ll find a handful of Marriott and Belmond hotels here and there, but by and large the chains you’ll come into contact with are Peruvian. The most prominent, although they have only a handful of hotels each, are Casa Andina, Aranwa, and Libertador. Casa Andina and Tierra Viva hotels are comfortable, decorated similarly, and generally good values. Casa Andina also has an upscale line of Premium hotels in a few choice spots. The Libertador hotels are elegant four- and five-star establishments, largely in historic buildings, as are Aranwa.
In-room air-conditioning isn’t as common, especially in lower-priced and moderately priced inns and hotels, as it is in many countries. In highland towns, such as Cusco, that’s not usually a problem, as even in warmer months it gets pretty cool at night. In coastal towns it gets considerably warmer, though most hotels that don’t offer air-conditioning units have ceiling or other fans. If you’re concerned about having air-conditioning in your room in a warmer destination, it may be necessary to bump up to a more expensive hotel.
Advance reservations are strongly recommended during high season (June–Oct) and during national holidays and important festivals. This is especially true of hotels in the middle and upper categories in popular places such as Cusco and Machu Picchu. Many hotels quote their rates in U.S. dollars. If you pay in cash, the price will be converted into soles at the going rate. Note that at many budget and many mid-range hotels, credit cards are not accepted. Most published rates can be negotiated, and travelers can often get greatly reduced rates outside of peak season simply by asking.
Hotel taxes and service charges are an issue that has caused some confusion in recent years. Most upper-level hotels add a 19% general sales tax (IGV) and a 10% service charge to the bill. However, foreigners who can demonstrate they live outside of Peru are not charged the 19% tax (though they are responsible for the 10% service charge). In practice, hotels sometimes either mistakenly or purposely include the IGV on everyone’s bill; presentation of a passport is sufficient to have the tax deducted from your tab. Many hotels—usually those at the midlevel and lower ranges—simplify matters by including the tax in their rates; at these establishments, you cannot expect to have the tax removed from your charges. At high-end hotels, be sure to review your bill and ask for an explanation of additional taxes and charges. Prices in this book do not include taxes and service charges unless otherwise noted. Breakfast and Wi-Fi is often included in the price, but check with the hotel before booking if either perk is important to you. The reviews in this book indicate when a hotel offers free Wi-Fi, but keep in mind that this is subject to change, as is the range of fees among hotels that charge for Wi-Fi access.
Safety can be an issue at some hotels, especially at the lower end, and extreme care should be taken with regard to personal belongings left in the hotel. Leaving valuables lying around is asking for trouble. Except for hotels at the lowest levels, most have safety deposit boxes. (Usually only luxury hotels have room safes.) Place your belongings in a carefully sealed envelope. If you arrive in a town without previously arranged accommodations, you should be minimally wary of taxi drivers and others who insist on showing you to a hotel. Occasionally, these provide excellent tips, but in general, they merely take you to a place where they are confident they can earn a commission.
A final precaution worth mentioning is the electric heater found on many showerheads. These can be dangerous at times, and touching them while functioning can prompt an unwelcome electric jolt.
Turning to the Internet or Apps for a Hotel Discount
It’s possible to get a good deal by calling a hotel, but you’re more likely to snag a discount online or using an app. Here are some strategies:
1. Browse extreme discounts on sites where you reserve or bid for lodgings without knowing which hotel you’ll get. You’ll find these on Priceline.com and Hotwire.com, and they can be money-savers, particularly if you’re booking within a week of travel (that’s when the hotels get nervous and often offer deep discounts). These sites feature major chains, so it’s unlikely you’ll book a dump.
2. Review discounts on the hotel’s website. The hotels give the lowest rates to those who book through their sites rather than through a third party. But you’ll only find these truly deep discounts in the loyalty section of these sites—so join the club.
3. Use the right hotel search engine. They’re not all equal, as we at Frommers.com learned in the spring of 2017 after putting the top 20 sites to the test in 20 destinations around the globe. We discovered that Booking.com listed the lowest rates for hotels in the city center, and in the under $200 range, 16 out of 20 times—the best record, by far, of all the sites we tested. And Booking.com includes all taxes and fees in its initial results (not all do, which can make for a frustrating shopping experience). For top-end properties, again in the city center, both Priceline.com and HotelsCombined.com came up with the best rates, tying at 14 wins each.
For car rentals, we highly recommend AutoSlash.com over other online car rental services. It applies every available coupon on the market to the booking, yielding surprisingly low daily rates. And if the cost of a rental drops, it automatically rebooks renters, again lowering the price.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.