Relais & Châteaux and Notable Properties of Peru

After spending a week exploring the splendor & unique terrain that the Galapagos Islands have to offer, one would imagine that a more spectacular & breath taking landscapes would be difficult to soon surpass. Ladies & gentlemen, I proved myself wrong; welcome to Peru's Sacred Valley. Driving along side the majestic mountain chain on the ride between Alejandro Velasco Astete airport and our first stop in Urubamba, the group takes a break at the Taray lookout to stretch and enjoy the views. The seemingly infinite panorama gives a natural desire to take a deep breath...which would leave you literally breathless at 11,000 ft. At such an elevation what's known as altitude sickness can very easily occur for the unacclimated as it did for me simply walking through the airport, hiking Machu Picchu and even caused trouble sleeping. Once acclimated, Peru's culinary marvels rival its history and landscapes. Join me as I roam Relais & Chȃteaux properties from the middle of the countryside to the heart of the city, and hit up local casual eateries for traditional dishes.  

Wayra, Urubamba, Peru

From along the peaks, to the base of the valleys, Sol y Luna is as much a hotel as it is a wildlife preservation site, ranch and dining destination. Wayra, one of the Relais & Chȃteaux property's two restaurants, is where the group would enjoy an al fresco, Andean cookout style lunch, looking out at the stunning Urubamba mountain range and front row seats to a Passo Finos demonstration. Housed in a large active horse ranch, the restaurant's dinning room, sit-in wine cellar and lounge are a wonderful display of Peruvian art & architecture alike showcasing murals & sculptures from local artists and building materials from the mountains themselves. Chef Nacho Selis' cuisine pays tribute to the wealth of naturally organic ingredients first harvested in the region by the ancient Incas and still today thanks to the property's initiative to support local farmers. For more information visit .

 Left: Grilled Beef Heart Skewers
Middle: Tamales from Cusco wrapped in Corn Husk
Right: *Choclo topped with Peruvian Cheese
*Choclo is a large kernel variety of corn form the Andes. One of 35 varieties of corn in Peru.

 Outdoor cookout area

Passo Finos horse performance on hotel grounds during lunch

 Top: Caramelized Sweet Potato. There are over 4,000 varieties of potatoes in Peru
Bottom: Local Trout

 Wayra Ranch Lounge

Wayra Ranch Wine Cellar

Driving through the Sacred Valley en route to Urubamba 

Restaurant in the small town of Lamay offering coal fire roasted Guinea Pig

Tambo del Inca Resort, Urubamba, Peru

The Urubamba mountain chain ranges between heights of roughly 13,000 to 19,000 ft. From the flat lands of the valley it's difficult to fathom how these undulating peaks were formed and rose up from literally the ground beneath our feet. Standing by the entrance of the Tambo del Inca the view and feeling is no different. Coming in under my "local & notable" tab, the resort is home not only to desirable vistas on all sides, but also Hawa Restaurant and Kiri Bar. In a warm setting with a tall roaring fire, stacked stone walls and wood beams, Hawa restaurant's *novoandina menu was the only time during the entire trip that Alpaca Shank was offered, so of course I couldn't pass up the opportunity. In the more casual, but not to be outdone Kiri Bar, the spotlight is on alcoholic offerings and tasty snacks. Cocktails created by the bar tenders serving them, focus is on gin and surprisingly complex & developed concoctions using Peruvian ingredients. A few too many Pisco based libations will have you wondering if you're seeing stars, but fear not, it's just the 20ft backlight Peruvian onyx wall. Click here for an overview of the dining experiences at Tambo del Inca Resort. *Novoandina, or Novo Andean, is a modern style of cuisine from Peru and Andean countries.

Alpaca Shank braised with local herbs, Quinoa Risotto, Cilantro and Roots

Urubamba Mountains from Tambo del Inca Resort

Cocktail at Kiri Bar

Kiri Bar interior showcasing its Peruvian onyx wall

Acebichado Bowl - Sushi Rice, Avocado, Crispy Quinoa Shrimps, Tuna,
Chives, Seaweed and Lime Cebiche Juice

Hotel B - Lima, Peru

After a casual stroll through the artsy bohemian Barranco neighborhood, the group's next stop, and perhaps highlight of the day for some, would be a mixology lesson at Relais & Châteaux property, Hotel B. Also located in the protected historical area of Barranco, this now 20 room art-boutique hotel was once the seaside haven of President Augusto Leguia during the 1920s. Barely modified during its repurposing and renovation, the original Italian marble and exotic woods were left untouched and the three story addition was hailed as a new standard for historic restoration by Peru's Historic Building Society. 

Through the swanky entrance and art-centric hotel bar, the mixology lessons would take place in El Patio, the enclosed, open sky, courtyard. Spearheaded by in-house bar tender Axel Romero the group was introduced to pisco, and Peruvian made gin and rum. Following instructions, we were guided through concocting one cocktail at a time to be paired with a bite presented by Chef himself. Understandably, my picture taking skills suffered a little towards the end of the lesson. It was quite fun playing bar tender and with some practice & the all the right ingredients one could easily have their favorite drink in the comfort of their own home. For more information on on this property visit .

 Setup for mixology lessons at Hotel B

Pisco Sour - Lemon Juice, Syrup, Egg White and Pisco, prepared by self,
paired with Chicken Satay Skewer, eaten by self before taking the photo

Basilisco - Sparkling Water, Basil, Cucumber, Passion Fruit and Gin, prepared by self,
paired with a Deconstructed Capresse Salad

Dirty Daikiri - Grapefruit, Vanilla Bitters and Rum, prepared by self,
paired with Banana Rum Cheesecake

Calle Del Medio, Cusco, Peru

Keeping the small and charming city of Cusco for last on the trip was probably a good idea. At 11,100 ft it would be the highest altitude the group would experience, and even with one week of acclimation it proved to be a challenge for some, including having difficulty sleeping myself. But at 11,100 ft, what's another flight of stairs to climb for Calle del Medio, another restaurant on my "local & notable tab." Serving Peruvian cuisine with a contemporary twist on classic dishes, this cozy and friendly restaurant was a fun spot to enjoy views of Plaza de Armas. For more information on this local favorite click here.

Trout Tiradito, Trout Row and Choclo

Pastel de Choclo - Corn Cake topped with Cheese, Chopped Onion,
Mushroom, Tomato and Celery

Plaza de Armas, Cusco, Peru

Overall Peru was a wonderful experience and I would definitely recommend it on your list of countries to visit. It would be impossible to include all the wonderful things there are to experience along with all the great culinary highlights in one post, and I hope you'll one day get to experience them all yourself. A big thank you to our local guide Aracelli for wealth of knowledge during the trip and help with information and translation to help me with this post.

For more inventive and delectable South American cuisine have a look at this Galapagos themed Chef's tasting here.


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