Latin America

Where to Stay When Visiting Machu Picchu: Luxury Travelers

Machu Picchu is one of the wonders of the world, a major bucket list attraction, and an awe-inspiring site in a magical location. The reason it survived the Spanish invasion, however, was that it was so isolated and difficult to reach. There’s still only one way to get to the closest town, by train, so there are limited options for where to stay when visiting Machu Picchu, especially if you’re a luxury traveler.

where to stay Machu Picchu

If you’re headed to the Inca citadel, you’ll probably spend time in Cusco and/or the Sacred Valley first. Someday there will be a Sacred Valley airport, but for now that means you’ll fly into Cusco. Watch the altitude though, especially if you’re coming from sea level. Cusco is actually higher than either of the other locations so starting out there can mean a tough adjustment.

If you want to stay near the ruins in Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Town, you basically have three luxury hotels options: two great ones in town and one overpriced, kind of underwhelming one that’s got a huge advantage: it’s right by the entrance to the archaeological site.

Here’s information on the three best Machu Picchu luxury hotels in the small town of Aguas Calientes, as well as some other options to consider that are a train ride away.

Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

where to stay when visiting Machu Picchu

In most respects, this is the best luxury hotel near the ruins. Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is a gorgeous collection of buildings occupying enough land to be able to offer birdwatching tours and nature walks. It seems to have almost as much space to itself as the whole rest of the town added together, from the mountainside to the river.

Book here if you’d like room to spread out: check out our review and video of the top suite at this Inkaterra hotel if you are ready to splurge. All of the rooms are well-appointed and comfortable, however, and the property has several restaurants, a spa, a bar, and other amenities.

Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel

Sumaq Machu Picchu

Before the bus chugs up the mountain on the way to the ruins it passes the last hotel in town, Sumaq Machu Picchu, meaning this is the first stop coming back. After walking around all day, you can make a beeline to the spa and get a massage or head to the hotel’s excellent bar.

This property with “contemporary Andean style” across from the Urubamba River is a regular award-winner from glossy magazines and readers’ polls and the staffers will take good care of you from arrival to departure. It has all the expected high-end services like room service, free Wi-Fi, and well-appointed private bathrooms.

Here’s what our reviewer had to say about this option of where to stay in Machu Picchu town:

When everything is so carefully organized, and the staff so eager to please, it’s easy to relax. The in–room features don’t hurt, either: huge windows facing lush greenery and the rushing river, carved wooden beds topped with alpaca fiber blankets (and what looks to be the entire offering of a pillow menu), personal sound systems, and flat–screen TVs with a range of international channels. The spacious bath is stocked with high–quality products. Suites also have separate seating areas and Jacuzzi tubs.

Sanctuary Lodge, A Belmond Hotel

If this hotel were located in town, it would pale in comparison to the other two, with small rooms that don’t match up to the highest rates in the region. It can command those high rates for one key reason though: Sanctuary Lodge is the only hotel right next to the citadel, meaning you can beat the crowds to visit Machu Picchu or go on the last tour of the day and be steps away from where you’re staying.

Although you don’t look at the ruins from Belmond Sanctuary Lodge (that would spoil the view from them), you do see the craggy surrounding mountains from some of the rooms and public areas. Since this is a Belmond property, you can expect a well-trained staff and good meals, despite the mountaintop location.

See our full review at the link above. Also, note that if you’re arriving on Belmond’s luxury train and returning the same day, you’ll stop in here for a meal.

In and Out on the Hiram Bingham Train

Hiram Bingham train

You could avoid choosing between these three luxury hotel options by staying in Cusco and taking the Hiram Bingham luxury train to the ruins and back, making it a long day trip instead. This way you don’t even have to worry about which of the Machu Picchu hotels to choose from.

Although this is a great experience, we wouldn’t recommend the here and back in one day though unless you’re really pressed for time. Spending the night nearby makes for a much more relaxing experience. You won’t have to get up when it’s still dark outside to travel to the train station, first of all.

Some people do it every day though, so we’re mentioning it here as an option. If you’re going to do this, we’d recommend staying at one of the two Belmond hotels in Cusco so it’s a seamless experience all around: Monasterio or Nazarenas. See reviews of both on our Peru Luxury Hotels page. Book your trip here.

Staying in the Sacred Valley Instead

Sacred Valley Belmond

Since the only way to get to Machu Picchu is by train anyway, some luxury travelers elect to stay in the Sacred Valley when visiting Machu Picchu instead of one of the three hotels we recommend in Aguas Calientes. They take the train to the town in the morning, tour the citadel, and then return to their spacious Sacred Valley hotel in the evening.

This gives you a lot more options and more things to do while you’re on site. You probably wouldn’t want to spend more than two nights in Aguas Calientes, but you could spend days in the Sacred Valley and take excursions from there, especially if you’re in the adventure-oriented Explora Valle Sagrado lodge where these adventures are included in the rates.

For something more traditional, you could stay at a variety of other properties, including another one from Inkaterra, another one from Belmond, one from local chain Aranwa, or the privately owned community action property Sol y Luna.

Visit our page linking to our reviews of luxury hotels in Peru to check out the details on the best hotels in the area, but here are the ones we have reviewed from in-person visits. Most are situated around Urubamba and in general offer more spacious rooms than you’ll find closer to the ruins.

Aranwa Resort & Spa

Rio Sagrado, A Belmond Hotel

Explora Valle Sagrado

Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba

Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa

Tambo del Inka

Ready to start planning your trip? Check out this post on the new rules for visiting Machu Picchu, including information about the Inca Trail. For any of these top properties, try to book well ahead for high season, especially the peak season for vacationers between June and August.

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