Just two blocks from Cusco, Peru’s historic Plaza de Armas is a 16th century mansion that once belonged to the city’s mayor, Don Domingo de Artaza, from 1573-74. Built in the colonial architectural style, the estate was the essence of luxury and comfort. His granddaughter sold the home in 1618 to Alonso Perez de Villarejo, a priest from the Cusco Cathedral.

The Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel – Photo by Jill Weinlein

In 1980 the mansion became a National Historical Heritage site, and now the Aranwa Boutique Hotel chain runs the property. While maintaining the integrity of the structure, they also take care of numerous museum pieces, including historic paintings, carpeting, tapestry, colonial sculptures and carvings.

Checking into the hotel with my husband, we were  welcomed by Giuseppe, who told us a little bit about the property. Aranwa in Quechua means legend. This property captures the history, charm and beauty of nature. All of the owner’s priceless art collection is on display.

Elegant hallways at The Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Each of the elegant rooms has a sophisticated oxygen system streaming fresh oxygen for guests. The front desk also has an oxygen tank and mask just in case a guest is uncomfortable with the high altitude in Cusco. The Inca-Colonial city is 11,152 feet above sea level and altitude sickness is known to affect people at 8,000 feet or higher. The staff encourages any guest feeling a headache, shortness of breath or nausea to breathe in pure oxygen located near the lobby.

Another aid for altitude sickness is Coca tea. In the hallway near the restaurant is a bowl of native South America whole coca leaves. There are hot water and tea cups on a table for guests to take a few leaves to submerge in hot water to sip. When steeped it’s slightly greenish in color, similar to green tea in color, yet it tastes slightly sweeter.

Giuseppe also gave us complimentary Pisco Sour tickets to use at the hotel’s bar and lounge. A Peruvian Pisco Sour cocktail is made by mixing Peruvian pisco with Key lime juice, simple syrup, egg white, ice cubes and decorative Angostura bitters on top of the white foam.

Jacuzzi-style spa tub – Photo Jill Weinlein

As we walked to our room 218, an Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel staff member told us that there are 43 rooms and suites. The rooms in the mansion have been renovated to include marble bathrooms with Jacuzzi-style tubs.

He pointed out the oldest item in the hotel, a 16th century stone doorway leading up to our second floor room. Many of the oil paintings are 18th century pieces. Everywhere you look in the hallways are priceless art, statues, furniture and one-of-a-kind pieces.

In room 218 we had two queen size beds, antique furniture and a large soaking marble bath with spa whirlpool. What makes this room extra special is a large Juliet balcony in the front of the hotel overlooking the street. During the first decade of the 19th century three balconies were built adorning the facade. The center balcony of the neoclassical style beautifies the San Juan Fe Dios Street.

View from the balcony of room 218 – Photo by Jill Weinlein

After a good night’s sleep, we went down to the hotel’s restaurant for a complimentary breakfast. There was a buffet table filled with Peruvian fruit, breads, hot and cold dishes. Guests may also order freshly cooked eggs.

Center of Cusco – Photo by Jill Weinlein

Located on 255 San Juan de Dios Street, near Regocijo Square, two blocks from the Main Square of Cusco, the Aranwa Cusco Boutique Hotel is a luxury home base for exploring Cusco’s sights and culinary experiences. The staff continues to restore and maintain the originality of this historical mansion, offering guests an experience of what living an opulent life was like from the 16th century until the present.