T+L shares where to stay, eat, and sleep in this vibrant South American capital.
When I visited Lima as a child from my hometown of Tacna, located just to the south, it was myfirst encounter with a true metropolis—an energetic cityscape whose rich history could befelt on almost every corner. I’m a New Yorker now, but every year I make the 10-hour flightback to the city where I spent most of my youth. And each time I return, I’m surprised by howthis urban landscape continues to change, while at the same time remaining committed to its past.There are classic centuries-old hotels still standing and new ones sprouting up in statelybuildings, innovative restaurants with cutting-edge chefs, and jewelry and clothing boutiquesmerging traditional materials with modern techniques. I keep a list of my favorite spots in thecity, which you’ll find on the following pages—they’ll lead you from the posh SanIsidro neighborhood to bohemian Barranco.
My father used to take me to the 1927 Country Club, where France’s former presidentCharles de Gaulle once spent the night. The colonial-style building has been converted into the83-room Country Club Lima Hotel (doubles from $440, including breakfast), filled with Peruvianart from Lima’s Museo Pedro de Osma, brocade-covered chairs, gilt mirrors, and mahoganyarmoires. Along the nearby malecón (boardwalk), the oceanside Miraflores Park Hotel (doubles from $544) has one of the city’s best rooftop infinity pools and panoramic viewsof the Pacific from the private in-room balconies. The 33-year-old Miraflores Cesar’s Hotelwas the place to stay in its heyday, but a much-needed makeover transformed it into themore modern Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores (doubles from $219). Despite itsnew look—bold artwork; a palm-fringed indoor pool—the hotel hasn’t completelydone away with tradition: Wood-beam ceilngs and Peruvian ceramics decorate the rooms, and you canstill hear boleros in the lobby lounge.
Over the years I’ve had my most memorable meals at the intimate, 15-table Rafael Restaurant (dinner for two$55), housed in a 1940’s mansion. Don’t let the traditional atmosphere here foolyou: The Asian- and Mediterranean-inflected Peruvian dishes, such as lomo saltado made withrice vinegar and pisco, are exquisitely prepared by the chef-owner Rafael Osterling Letts.When Iwant to taste Lima’s most daring culinary offerings, I head to Astrid y Gastón (dinner for two$75), in a rambling villa in Miraflores. Lima-born chef Gastón Acurio’s menu isfull of surprises: a “shot” of sea urchin emulsion mixed with cappuccino; spicy rabbitspring rolls. Plus, it has the city’s best selection of Latin American wines (try theUruguayan Pisano Tannat). You can’t come to Lima without sampling Peru’s most famousdish—ceviche. And La Mar Cebichería (dinner for two $35) is the best place to try it. The bamboo-roof restaurant is ahot spot for Lima’s beautiful people and doesn’t take reservations. But it’sworth the wait for the house specialties, such as tuna, sesame, and tamarind, or sea bass andoctopus with chile.
When I’m in town, I always swing by All Alpaca to stock up on colorful and reasonably-pricedsweaters, knee-length coats, and scarves, all made from downy-soft Peruvian alpaca wool sourced inthe Andes. One of my favorite new jewelry designers is Anna Dannon, who creates the imaginativesilver baubles sold at Ara Joyas, on the lively Álvarez Calderón.You’ll find everything from sculptural cube-shaped necklaces to thick, gold-dipped arm cuffs.Mario Testino’s sister, Giuliana, is one of the most talked-about designers in town. I loveher hand-crocheted clothes at Giuliana Testino. If youdon’t like your dress hems short (and these are short), there are also plenty ofdelicate cardigans, shawls, and capes. In southern Lima’s up-and-coming Barranconeighborhood, Las Pallas carries traditional Peruvian crafts collected by British-born owner Mari Solari. The intricatelydesigned Ayacucho pottery and Andean retablos are the perfect gifts to bring back.
Astrid y Gastón, Lima
Praised as one of the world's most innovative chefs, Gastón Acurio has established outposts of his restaurants in Madrid and Santiago. In a colonial-era house, traditional dishes like roast suckling pig with tacu-tacu (Peru's version of beans and rice) get a modern twist. Lima-born Acurio’s menu is full of surprises: a “shot” of sea urchin emulsion mixed with cappuccino; spicy rabbit spring rolls. Plus, it has the city’s best selection of Latin American wines (try the Uruguayan Pisano Tannat).
La Mar, Lima
Owner Mari Solari stocks her shop, which doubles as her residence, with handicrafts from around the country. Multicolored candles from Cuzco and ceramic Christmas-tree ornaments painted with miniature Nativity scenes from Ayacucho start at $1; elaborate hand-carved Andean retablos (portable altars) go for $100 or more.
Belmond Miraflores Park Hotel
Country Club Lima Hotel
Casa Andina Private Collection Miraflores
The 15-table restaurant is housed in a 1940’s mansion. Don’t let the traditional atmosphere here fool you: The Asian- and Mediterranean-inflected Peruvian dishes, such as lomo saltado made with rice vinegar and pisco, are exquisitely prepared by the chef-owner Rafael Osterling Letts.
Stock up on colorful and reasonably-priced sweaters, knee-length coats, and scarves, all made from downy-soft Peruvian alpaca wool sourced in the Andes.
Up-and-coming jewelry designer Anna Dannon creates the imaginative silver baubles sold at this shop on the lively Álvarez Calderón. You’ll find everything from sculptural cube-shaped necklaces to thick, gold-dipped arm cuffs.
Mario Testino’s sister, Giuliana, is one of the most talked-about designers in town. Pick up her hand-crocheted clothes. If you don’t like your dress hems short (and these are short), there are also plenty of delicate cardigans, shawls, and capes.