17 May 2016

Cusco Love & One Romantic Hotel

Our stay in Cusco will go down in history for us.

We're talking one of our favorite South American cities with charm, cobblestone, and architecture...

AND, we got to stay in one of the most romantic properties we've ever stayed in - a former 16th century mansion, which is now a 5-star hotel called Inkaterra La CasonaOh my.

One of our dear retreat guests highly recommended that we stay there. And we felt so spoiled to be able to do so, thanks to the generosity of the hotel.

Our room was so, so luxurious. It's the type of place with heated wooden floors throughout, marble showers, the biggest free standing tub I've seen in my life, double sinks fit for a queen, a stone fireplace, handmade toiletries, and a bed that was so huge and comfortable we felt way too fancy for our own good.

(Yes, we came in with our backpacks and felt a little out of place in our hiking pants. Oh jeez. Normally we'd be at some hostel before hitting the Inca Trail. Luckily other hikers were staying there, too.)

"The mini fridge in your room is full of complementary snacks and drinks," said the attentive staff.

"Give us a ring when you'd like us to light the fireplace or run the bath." 


OK, alrighty then. We'll get right on that. :) Just after we check out the original hand-painted mural ceilings.

Next thing we knew, the huge bath tub was filling with bubbles and surrounded by candles. The fireplace was roaring.

We were sipping sparkling water and eating mandarin oranges.

It's an understatement to say I was IN HEAVEN.

Also, this bathtub was just exceptionally large - definitely spacious enough for two. :) And it's especially lovely to indulge in if there's a torrential Andean rainstorm outside. :) We stayed in that tub as long as possible.

And here we have THE DOOR TO OUR ROOM! Just a hand carved door from the 16th century...

Breakfast was fit for a king.

Smoked trout. Eggs Benedict.

An American couple sat nearby, celebrating their 25th Anniversary. They set aside some money and stayed in the most fantastic place they could find. No doubt, this place was unforgettable.

We finally had to break ourselves away to see the town and sights in Cusco.

And then... oh my - during our walking tour, the guide actually took the group to show us none other than the Inkaterra La Casona, where we were staying!! The guide stopped outside and raved about the luxury of this place and said, "This is where all the celebrities stay. Katy Perry just stayed here last week." ha. Danny and I felt a little sheepish as we stood there on the street below our room and quietly connected to our wifi signal.

You would think going to Cusco is all about just getting to Machu Picchu. But ohhh nooo. There is SO much to see in and around this vibrant, ancient city (which feels like you're in Europe.) After all, it's the former capital of the Incan Empire. So the city is SURROUNDED by mind blowing ruins and beautiful indigenous people. We would definitely recommend Cusco as one of the "must sees" we've experienced so far in South America.

And a bonus: there are some fantastic restaurants in Cusco. One of our favorites (which we went to twice) is Green Point. It's vegan! Though even if you're not vegan, trust me you would LOVE the food at this place. Every traveler we met already knew about this place as word gets around. After a particularly soaking rain storm in which we were drenched to the bone, I was especially delighted to tuck inside their cozy, warm place and drink some hot cocoa (with homemade almond milk! And no sugar. Just how I like it.)

And...Cusco's ruins. I mean, what on earth? I'm not even sure how you MOVE stones that size, let alone form them into a giant lightening pattern.

Cusco, we loved you. Though be warned, those darling little llamas might poo on you.

OK friends, how do you feel about staying in nice hotels? Is it worth the money to you? Would you rather stay someplace cheap and use your money to explore even more? 

For me: I love the idea of staying some place nice from time to time, just for the experience of truly indulging, relaxing, and spending time at the hotel. Sometimes I'd even choose more time in the hotel vs. being out and about every possible second. Though I'm also okay staying in less expensive places as well - especially during long trips with lots of stops. We've definitely stayed in our fair share of hostels. Though I suppose they're often less fun to write about. :) 

P.S. See our Machu Picchu tips here. And Lima, too.


  1. There's so much to say about these gorgeous photos...but, I find myself unable to get past a bizarre little question of mine: Do you use compression sacks inside your camping backpack? My husband and I are living out of camping backpacks, too, as we just sold our RV and are without a home... (Thankfully, his work puts us up in extended-stay hotels wherever they send us.) I ask because my current packing situation is less than ideal. I don't believe I packed all that much, but I'm finding it difficult to get items in and out of the pack without unpacking EVERYTHING. Prior to this hotel, we rode Amtrak for two weeks and it was a nightmare trying to find and pull out the right clothes! :-D

    Anyway, in that one picture of you going through your stuff, it looks like maybe, just maybe, you're using a compression sack. I'd love to know which brand and how you like it.

    Thank you, as always, for showing up so fully here. xx

    1. http://www.tortugabackpacks.com/collections/travel-backpacks/products/tortuga-travel-backpack

    2. Hi Helen!! Oh, the adventures continue for you guys. What an experience!
      So yes...we do use some compression packs. And I love that you saw them and asked about them. :) We've been using these for years (Ziplock Space Bags for Travel): http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com/store/product/ziploc-reg-space-bag-reg-travel-bag-variety-set-of-6/1046075482?Keyword=travel+pack

      They have held up very well and we LOVE them, but overtime (years) the zippers have also become less effective so the air doesn't stay out as effectively. When we go to replace these, I'll probably research to see if there's a better option. Every time we use plastic these days I feel pretty sick about it and have been trying to cut back.

    3. Anon - that is one of the coolest / most organized backpacks I've seen! Thank you for sharing!

    4. Oh, Mara, you remember me! :-D I wasn't sure you would—it's been a while. But yes, we've just sold the RV (we weren't quite ready to let go of that lifestyle, but the offer was for exactly what we owed, and it's such a liberating thing to get out of debt, especially debt on something that's rapidly depreciating!) and are now backpackers. ;-) Still looking for Home, but enjoying the freedom of traveling light in the meantime.

      Anyway, thank you so much for the Ziploc tip. I feel you on the plastic issue, though. I've been using some of my husband's old Eagle Creek packing cubes, which are immensely helpful and have handles, so they're easy to pull out of the pack in a pinch. But, I'm pretty sure the pack itself is my problem. My eyes zoomed right in on the luggage-y looking stuff in that picture and I thought, "I bet Mara and Danny's travels have them using something super." ;-)

      Anon's Tortuga bag recommendation had us geeking out last night—that sure is some pack! (Thanks, Anon!) I especially love the copy in the pack's description ("Suitcases aren't designed for world travel. Wheeled luggage can't stand up to the rigors of city travel. Have you ever tried dragging a suitcase with cheap plastic wheels over the cobblestone streets of Paris? Good luck! The cylinder-shaped packs for 'backpackers' aren't much better. Those giant backpacks are made for hikers, not travelers." Haha, so, so good).

      Thanks again, Mara and Anon! xx

  2. Looks beautiful!! I love love love to indulge in a nice hotel. My favourite was this Summer I treated my partner to a surprise trip to Bali and a week at the Ayana Resort and Spa- this had 12 pools including our favourite overlooking the ocean with perfect sunsets to enjoy over cocktails. Highly recommend if you head that way xx

    1. oooooh.... that sounds freaking amazing. I have been thinking about Bali here and there and would love to check it out. And yes, yes to nice hotels (when possible!)

  3. Hey Mara, wow what a wonderful and cosy hotel. Would love to stay there some time. However, I've just checked the room prices and I was quite shocked (800 USD/night?). Am I mistaken?

    1. It wasn't that much when we visited, though that was in the rainy season and so probably there is a lot of variability. They probably adjust things significantly due to changes in tourism cycles, which are quite heavy in that town.

      The hotel is most certainly elite. Which is why we were delighted we could stay on the hotel's generosity.

  4. I love your hair and how beautiful you are without make up! :) Do you have a recipe for the almond milk hot cocoa? I would love to try it! :)

    1. Ruth -you're the kindest. THANK YOU. When we travel - and really during this whole sabbatical - I have found myself not wearing much make up (on purpose) as we already stick out terribly with our height and blond hair and all and I feel safer not bringing too much attention to myself (thus no or very little make-up and more casual clothes). And also, I can't find organic/low chemical make up here so I try to conserve what I have brought from the states. But THANK YOU. I wish I felt more beautiful without make up - and the truth is I don't necessarily. But I'm also ok with that.

      And, the hot cocoa. I don't really have a recipe. But when I make it myself, I just fill the cup with warm almond milk (which we make ourselves) or even just hot water...and then I add probably two heaping tablespoons of raw cacao. I do ok w/o sweetener, but you could also add a bit of stevia or honey. And sometimes I'll sprinkle in some cinnamon!

      And here's a recipe for the almond milk. It is seriously OUT OF THIS WORLD. To us, it's so good it feels like we're drinking egg nog (which I actually like.)


  5. Heard about more quakes in Ecuador. Hope you guys are OK!

    1. We are. Where we are is far enough away that we didn't notice either of them. We were walking the dogs yesterday when one of them happened and didn't notice a thing...heard about it later though....I guess if we'd been in our home we would have felt it.

    2. Thank you so much for thinking of us!! Yes, we are ok. These quakes are really something. Feeling so badly for those affected. They've been through so much.

  6. Oh my!!! I want to be just happy for you two, and nothing else, but I am slightly jealous right now haha

  7. Kindly pls give me some tips to the whole blog and relationship thing :))

    1. Hi Catlyn! I'm guessing you have a blog, too. Well, blogging and relationships can be interesting - especially if you're sharing stories about your lives or working from home (I think any job or endeavor from home can affect a relationship). Danny & I have done well with it as we're both passionate about the things we mostly write about (how to have love, relationships, peace, happiness despite challenging circumstances.) So we literally think about this stuff and talk about it every day. We have had some challenges in this effort: like figuring out who is doing what (to grow this thing beyond just our blog posts), having the belief that the sky is the limit, trying to figure out a zillion logistics for tech, marketing, copy, launches, design, etc. (this is all ongoing behind the scenes and has been for some time), dealing with delays to our efforts (often out of our control). So...in the midst of these challenges, we do our best to treat each other with respect and love, to be kind to each other, to investigate what is causing a frustration (if one arises), to care for ourselves deeply (with self care and self love) so that we have the fortitude to move forward, and to continue to believe in each other and in our work. We write affirmations each week to keep us focused and positive on our goals of that week. And we try to praise each other generously for the gifts or time that we each are contributing.

  8. you look great together


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