The type of accommodation in Peru that Aracari adores most are those owner ran properties with beautiful, local details that are in touch with the surrounding environment. This is exactly what we discovered when we visited the Cuesta Serena boutique hotel in the Cordillera Blanca region of the northern Peruvian Andes.
It was a sunny summer weekend in December when my colleague Mark and I ventured north of Lima. Upon arrival at the property, early in the morning, we were given a friendly welcome and a hearty breakfast on the hotel’s front terrace, with views across the garden and the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. We were also greeted by a lovely welcome message from owner Mariana.
Relaxing on the terrace, we were struck by the colourful textiles that adorned the furniture, and hammocks draped from the beams on the ceiling. There were also ornaments such as Toritos de Pucara, ceramic bulls that are popular adornments in the Andes, as well as embroidered cusions with flowers that reflected the various lush arrangements dotted around the garden. A pleasant atmosphere to enjoy our breakfast and take in the mountain air.
Later, Mariana joined us along with her gorgeous dogs Max and Mara, who were only too eager to jump up and slobber all over us. Mariana explained to us that the hotel had opened just a year ago. The project of her late father, the idea was to build a beautiful retreat in the Cordillera Blanca away from the hustle and bustle of nearby town of Huaraz. Cuesta Serena is now popular with guests who come up to the mountains from Lima and has cemented its position as the best accomodation option in the area.
We were shown to our rooms and I settled down into my suite, the «Luxury Suite», which is the only one with views towards Huascaran, which at 6,768 meters tall is Peru’s highest peak. Each room with its own colour scheme (mine was a rather spiffing pink) and all of the decor in each room has been specially crafted to fit the scheme. There are colourful motifs painted onto the walls and all of the textiles have been selected to suit. There are also little details and Andean paraphernalia such as masks, textile adonments, watercolour paintings of Andean towns and other trinkets. Aside from my room, there are two other suites in the main building, which is also where the common room and kitchen are, with sofas around a fireplace and a selection of different books to read. The complex also includes a seperate bungalow and a further building at the back with 3 additional rooms.
The hotel has the feel of an old colonial property, with a courtyard seperating the two buildings complete with a fountain, red terracotta rooftops and painted wooden shutters that are hallmarks of the typical image of Andean townhouses. Amongst the facilities is a swimming pool, which is hosted in a glass house at the back of the property.
Cuesta Serena we found to be the ideal place to relax and enjoy the atmosphere of the Cordillera Blanca. Guests have ample options on that front with yoga, massages (highly recommended!) and Reikki. There is a gazebo in the front garden with comfy cusions to lie back on, while there is also a «labyrinth path»: the idea is that you walk around the path, which is sort of like a maze (see pictures below), in order to solve a problem that one may have.
From Cuesta Serena, it is also possible to get out in to the mountains and spend a few hours soaking in the scenery. For those arriving at Anta airport, Cuesta Serena is almost literally a stone’s throw away, and at around 2,700 metres of altitude it makes it the perfect place to acclimatise upon arrival.
We are currently developing a week long program that will tie together a couple of nights at Cuesta Serena with time at the Llanganuco Lodge (3,503 metres), which is at the entrance to Huascaran National Park. In addition to this, we think that Cuesta Serena works particularly well at the end of a Cordillera Blanca itinerary, as clients would thoroughly enjoy a massage and the opportunity to relax after they have been trekking in the mountains, so that they can reflect on their previous adventures.
The food was excellent, at breakfast we were served with fresh papaya juice and a fruit salad made of strawberries and bananas as well as scrambled eggs with freshly baked bread. We enjoyed a delicious chicken with rosemary for lunch on the first day, while the Pizza night allowed us to try our hand at throwing together some ingredients, before waiting for our pizzas in the wood burning oven at the back of hte hotel. Some of the ingredients are grown in the property’s own organic gardens, which are situated on a stretch behind the swimming pool.
But what I most liked about Cuesta Serena were the colourful adornments and textiles throughout the property, the artwork and Andean motifs in the rooms, Andean decorations and unique decor in each room. This attention to detail is what Aracari loves and appreciates. Personally I feel that our guests will very much enjoy time spent here as a compliment to getting out in to the dense mountains of the Cordillera Blanca.