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Where in the world can you luxuriate in an outdoor Jacuzzi, surrounded by ferns, butterflies, and darting hummingbirds, but with the intricate labyrinth of hand-carved and hand-polished stonework of an ancient Inca citadel visible through the trees over your shoulder?
From a temple closer at hand the chanting of a shaman performing an ancient Pachamama ritual for private guests will come drifting through the foliage. There’ll be the option of a massage later on against a backdrop of Andean peaks, before heading off into that intricate citadel once the crowds have gone.
That citadel is, of course, Machu Picchu, one of the wonders of the world, and a name on every traveller’s bucket list. There can’t be many, if any, other places which are the main reason for visiting not just a country, but a whole continent. And if you’re going to make a journey all the way across the world to get the flavour of this place, then you might as well get to see it both in its most mystical light and at its people-free best, which is early morning and late evening. To do that, to pre-empt the crowds that make the half-hour journey up by bus from the railhead of Aguas Calientes in the valley below, you need to book into the only hotel which sits right outside the entrance: Belmond Sanctuary Lodge.
This hotel’s location confers huge advantages. Of being the first in when the gates open at 6am, when Machu Picchu is often still veiled in a diaphanous petticoat of mist, and having the place virtually to yourself for that moment of sunrise, which itself was hugely significant to the Incas. And of going back in, refreshed after a day of relaxation, at sunset, when the crush of day guests has gone.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge mountain retreat has a foot in two worlds. All the coming and going to Machu Picchu passes its front door, with some of those visitors stepping inside to experience the sanctuary of its restaurant and bar. Meanwhile, out the back of the property are quiet orchid-rich gardens exclusively for the Lodge’s guests, with sun loungers, the Jacuzzi in the trees, and the hidden temple-with-a-view for shamanistic rituals and massage.
The inside of the property is very select, with just 31 rooms and suites. Here the décor emphasises traditional fabrics and elegant wood, with marble bathrooms. The hotel is careful to maintain its eco-credentials, which means, for example, only providing walk-in showers instead of bathtubs, in order to control its water consumption.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge enjoys a unique location just steps from the entrance to Machu Picchu; it is the only hotel beside the Inca citadel. This charming mountain retreat, set in orchid gardens, is the perfect place to relax, from early in the morning to magical moonlit nights.
Belmond Sanctuary Lodge was rated “Best for Location” on Condé Nast Traveler’s “Gold List 2012” of the “World’s Best Places to Stay”.Download Factsheet