Insider’s Travel Guide to Peru
The architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia’s reveals his favorite hot spots in Peru.
Born in Lima, trained in new England, and based in Miami, architect Bernardo Fort-Brescia has travel in his DNA. But his heart remains in Peru, where Fort-Brescia’s firm Arquitectonica is working on a clutch of new hotels that reflect its Modernist aesthetic. Whitewashed and adobe-colored façades evoke Miami Vice at the coastal Hotel Paracas (doubles from $340). In the Sacred Valley, Tambo del Inka (doubles from $455) features local stone and clay tiles. And then there’s the undulating glass exterior of the Westin Lima, set to open next summer. Here, the 13 places where he finds inspiration.
“Virgilio Martínez Véliz, of year-old Central Restaurante (dinner for two $70), delivers a tasting menu that includes updated Peruvian classics such as braised baby goat leg with herbs from his rooftop garden. Far simpler is the ceviche at nearby Pescados Capitales (lunch for two $65), served with cancha serrana [toasted corn].”
“Two of my favorite Lima shops sell crafts that incorporate traditional techniques: Dédalo Arte y Artesanía, in the Barranco district, and Indigo Arte y Artesanía, in San Isidro. Dédalo is the place to buy flatware and jewelry, while Indigo is strong on alpaca wool clothing.”
“For some of the best pre-Columbian artifacts, head to Museo Larco in a renovated eighteenth-century mansion built atop the remains of a seventh-century pyramid. The Museo Enrico Poli (by appointment) spotlights ancient Peruvian gold and silver. For woven textiles from the country’s northern coast, visit Fundación Museo Amano.”
“More distinctive than the touristed Plaza Mayor is the Palacio de Torre Tagle, a former marquis’ mansion. Completed around 1735, its stone arches and airy inner courtyard reference Moorish Spain and are reminiscent of buildings in Andalusia.”
“It’s a little-known fact that the Trujillo region, some three hundred miles north of Lima, and not Machu Picchu, is home to Peru’s most dramatic archaeological sites. Chan Chan was the largest precolonial city in South America—it’s shielded by citadels and filled with massive granaries, wall friezes, and palaces whose walls the Spanish reportedly found covered in silver. Meanwhile, the 1,546-acre complex at Caral, about two hundred miles to the south, dates back over four thousand years and is considered the oldest city in the Americas.”
“Paracas is known as Lima’s version of the Hamptons, but its real appeal is Islas Ballestas, a trio of islands that are close enough for day trips by boat from Hotel Paracas ($28). Eight miles away, San Gallán is another untouched isla, teeming with pelicans, penguins, and sea lions that encircle boats as they draw close to shore.”
Fundación Museo Amano
For a fascinating introduction to pre-Columbian life, visit this diminutive museum. The textiles are of particular note; the striped pieces have thread counts in the hundreds and could not be duplicated with modern techniques until recently. Open by appointment only, so call ahead.
A play on the Spanish phrase pecados capitales (deadly sins), this seafood restaurant replaces the word pecados (sins) with pescados (fish). In keeping with the theme, the menu includes dishes like “Freudian Lust” (grilled squid) and “Sense of Guilt” (lobster tails in white wine sauce). The specialty, however, is the fresh ceviche, which ranges from simple tuna with onion to more inventive options like curry-spiced squid with mango chutney. The restaurant itself is bright and airy, with whitewashed brick walls, light-wood furniture, and a high bamboo ceiling, as well as a large outdoor terrace lined with potted palms.
Adjacent to the Paracas Nature Reserve on Peru’s central coast, this resort hotel offers beach views of the protected reserve’s coastline. The 120 bright and spacious rooms feature bamboo walls, decorative Incan textiles, and private terraces. Those who upgrade to a suite enjoy 24-hour butler service. Guests can lounge by the infinity pool in a cabana or wander to the poolside bar for a mid-afternoon Pisco Sour.
Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa
Located in the heart of the Sacred Valley, one hour from Cusco, this leisure hotel (which opened in 2010) features eco-inspired décor of thatched reeds, light woods, and woven furniture. The 128 rooms have gorgeous views of the Andes and Vilcanota River. There’s also a sun-drenched spa with floor-to-ceiling windows and earthy wood-planked interiors.
Here, chef Virgilio Martínez Véliz delivers a tasting menu that includes updated Peruvian classics such as braised baby goat leg with herbs from his rooftop garden.
Dédalo Arte y Artesanía
Indigo Arte y Artesanía
Museo Enrico Poli
Palacio de Torre Tagle
More distinctive than the touristed Plaza Mayor is the Palacio de Torre Tagle, a former marquis' mansion. Completed around 1735, its stone arches and airy inner courtyard reference Moorish Spain and are reminiscent of buildings in Andalusia.