Cuzco, imperial capital of the Inca, was adopted by the conquering Spanish as the ideal location for their grandest palaces, churches and mansions. La Casona, on a beautiful plaza in the San Blas district, is thought to be the oldest colonial building in the city and was briefly the home of liberator Simón Bolívar. Carefully restored before opening in 2008 – it became Peru’s first Relais & Châteaux hotel a year later – it still feels like a conquistador’s private residence. The Old World dark-wood furniture, faded frescoes and antiques harmonise well with the earthy hues of Andean throws and exposed stonework. Eleven sumptuous and spacious suites overlook the plaza or inner courtyards, and all have private dining spaces as well as stone fireplaces, heated wooden floors and marble bathrooms. Plaza Suite Two, the largest, was occupied by conquistador Diego de Almagro. The in-house restaurant serves quinoa pancakes and coca tea for breakfast and Peruvian fusion food (guinea pig confit, Andean trout in Brazil-nut tempura) for lunch and dinner. The small Yacu spa has an ecclesiastical calm. Staff are low-key, courteous to a fault, and speak impeccable English. On the doorstep is the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art and most major sights as well as many of Cuzco’s best restaurants.
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