When visiting hotels, there is one essential quality that I'm always looking for: personality. Whether it's a remote jungle lodge in the Amazon or a deluxe beach resort, the key to a property's success (in my opinion anyway) is its ability to create a unique experience with attention to detail. Everything should feel deliberate, but not forced. Organic, but not chaotic. El Mercado Tunqui in Cuzco embodies this blend of effortless, understated hospitality. The property was a private home before being transformed into a hotel less than two years ago and maintains a quaint, personal feel. The hotel's mercado theme resonates throughout, most notably with its breakfast restaurant where, in addition to the standard buffet, two vendor-like stands offer guests customized freshly squeezed juices and XXXX, a local staple, at no additional cost.
All of Tunqui's common areas convey an air of playfulness and coziness; rather than just keeping the hotel aesthetically appealing and comfortable, you instantly get the sense that Management wants you to have fun! The rooms feel rustic yet chic, with dark hardwood floors, beautiful rugs and fully updated bathrooms. Situated just blocks from Cuzco's famed Plaza de Armas, the location is hard to beat. Another plus? El Mercado Tunqui belongs to Mountain Lodges of Peru, a company specializing in alternative Inca Trail excursions where, instead of camping, travelers stay in different lodges every night as they make their way toMachu Picchu. For those looking to pair a stay in Cuzco with a totally innovative approach to the Inca Trail, the combination of this hotel with a Mountain Lodge expedition couldn't be better.
So, final verdict? Cuzco has MANY hotels, and quite a few of them are exceptional. In fact, some of my favoritePeruvian deluxe, five-star properties can be found there (can anyone say El Monasterio?!). But when examining overall value, it's hard to look away from El Mercado. Not only are you getting a good bang for your buck in a solid, sophisticated property, you are guaranteed a pretension-free, jolly old good time.
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