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Tambo Del Inka in Machu Picchu

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We had just spent an incredible day trekking all the way to Machu Picchu. Not hiking, mind you. Don’t be silly, I’m not that ambitious. Rather, we took a glass-top train from Cusco, about four hours away, to Aguas Calientes, which is at the base of the mountain that the Inca ruins sit on.

The train ride there was stunning. As Cusco’s mountains gave way to rainforests, we passed tiny Peruvian towns and Inca Trail hikers, following the rapids of the Urubamba River, which cuts through valleys all the way there.

How did those Incas get so far into the wilderness, away from the Spaniards, and create these majestic—yet very functional—cities of gold? Well, I learned how, only because I was enveloped in a brilliant history book, which had me gripped on Hiram Bingham’s journey to discover the Inca citadel.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

Yes, Machu Picchu is as majestic and sublime as they say. It is absolutely impossible to capture it in a photograph, or even a video. It is even more impossible to describe it with words.

And so we were a little awestruck—not to mention exhausted and supremely sunburnt—on the train ride back, from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, about 60 miles away from Cusco, where my friend Emil had booked us into that night’s hotel.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

That train ride was dark—pitch black, in fact—as it was past 9 o’clock at night and we were roaring through the depths of the valley. I was just getting to the part in my book about the Shining Path, the infamous terrorist organization that terrorized Peru in the ‘80s.

And then the train stopped. In the eerily quiet darkness of night.

My boyfriend, Jason, and Emil were fast asleep. I sat there in terrified silence, trying to see anything out the windows. I panicked, silently. My anxiety shot through those glass windows in the train’s ceiling.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

After a few gut-clenching minutes, the train sighed and slowly started rumbling again. We were nearly to Ollantaytambo. And by the time we arrived, I was so freaked out, having tortured myself with more stories of the Shining Path, that I was glancing around suspiciously at anyone in my vicinity.

The train station at Ollantaytambo was tiny, and the train completely unloaded its hundreds of passengers, who quickly dispersed into various vans and taxicabs that were waiting. Emil had a taxi coming, but it hadn’t arrived yet. The crowd at the train station got thinner and thinner.

And suddenly there we were, the three of us, standing completely by ourselves in the dead of night, under a single street lamp in this tiny ancient town, waiting for a taxi that I was sure wasn’t coming. My heart was racing.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

“Have faith,” said Emil, as he started walking up the street, past empty cars and feral cats. Finally, a young man came running towards us with a sign that he was for “Senor Emil.” The boys chuckled at me, but I wasn’t laughing.

The cab ride to the hotel was just as dark. I was sure we were surrounded by the Sacred Valley’s mountains, but we couldn’t see past the windows into the night. We sped down a highway, the only car for miles, and I gripped my boyfriend’s hand with panicked force, wondering where the hell Emil was taking us.

Finally, we slowed to a stop and turned right onto a paved path. Ahead, a guard box stood before two enormous wooden doors. “Where are we? Jurassic Park?” I quipped. “Have faith,” Emil repeated from the front seat.

I should have. Those doors opened to the most luxurious resort I’ve ever seen.

Pulling into the long, round, candle-lit front path, I let go a heavy sigh of relief. When we walked inside, into perhaps the most beautiful hotel lobby I’ve ever set foot in, I nearly wept with joy. Jason and Emil stood there and giggled at my reaction, as we were offered drinks. We asked for water, but it might as well have been champagne to me.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

The Tambo Del Inka hotel is beautiful and welcoming. Part of the Luxury Collection of hotels that spans the world, including the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Spain and the Daneli in Venice, you can tell that thought and care was put into every inch of it. The lobby is as big as an airplane hangar, but as cozy as a cabin, with a gorgeous Inca-style stone fireplace and beautiful oversized sofas.

A sleek bar with an outdoor terrace overlooks the river and the mountains. Everything is perfection—from the enormous hanging tapestries to the oversized local pottery along the walls.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

It’s stylish and contemporary, but reflects the region’s Inca roots. The huge wooden beams throughout the hotel are made to look like indoor tree trunks. And the wooden light fixtures were designed to resemble Andean baskets.

We were staying there for just one night, but we were determined to enjoy every second of it. We woke up early and went straight to the heated indoor-outdoor infinity pool. I sat in the 5,500-square-foot spa, soaking my non-hiker muscles in the sauna and jacuzzi (24-karat-gold facial, anybody?). I read more of my book on our private terrace, overlooking the Vilcanota River.

And then, of course, we had brunch.

The Hawa restaurant in the hotel serves brunch to all the guests, every morning. The enormous dining room is big enough and gorgeous enough that it calls for a large, fancy state wedding. You can sit inside, near the fireplace, or outside, on the sun deck, enjoying the sound of the river.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

We sat inside—my sunburn had, unfortunately, turned into a pretty severe case of sun poisoning. Along the floor-to-ceiling windows was a long buffet, filled with all the novo-Andean food you could image: a selection of incredible, freshly-made juices, local cheeses, meats, pastries, an assortment of cereals, and a yogurt bar.

Further down the buffet, there was hot food, including eggs, chorizo, sausages, and more. Quinoa, which is currently exploding in the U.S., has been a local product for millennia—the Incas considered the crop to be sacred—and was offered both on its own and as part of some of the dishes.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

There was so much fresh fruit, I couldn’t get enough. But in addition to the buffet, you also get to order off the á-la-carte menu, which offered a selection of classics with an Andean twist.

Jason and Emil ordered the French toast. It was three small, but thick and sumptuous pieces of toast, covered with powdered sugar. The syrup came in a tall shot glass. Very elegant, and way easier to serve than the usual little cup that you get at most places.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

Emil also ordered an omelet to share. (We had, after all, much more exploring to do, so we needed to eat up!) It was thick and fluffy, and was stuffed with veggies so fresh you could taste them right off the bat.

I ordered the Benedict, which came not on an English muffin, but on a toasted biscuit. The eggs were cooked perfectly, and the hollandaise was thick and cheesy. I was offered English bacon, turkey bacon, ham or chorizo to fill it.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

Despite the fact that we’d ordered the buffet, we still got impressive table service. And we had arrived at the restaurant right at the tail-end of their brunch service. Everyone was friendly and at their best, taking our orders in perfect English.

The hotel was enchanting. I had fully recovered from my self-induced traveling terror. I was completely relaxed, full from brunch and, while a tad in pain from my blistering skin, very content.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

I didn’t want to leave. But, after a short, relaxing pause on the restaurant’s terrace, we had to keep exploring. We hopped in a car to tour around the Sacred Valley, bopping off to Moray to see more ruins, sun umbrella and book in hand.

The Bitches say: A+. Obviously. This rivals the Parador de Cadiz as the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in.

Tambo Del Inka Brunch

Tambo Del Inka
Avenida Ferrocarril S/N
Sacred Valley
Urubamba, Peru
(51)(84) 581 777

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  1. Looks beautiful! We are going in dec. did you see sol y Luna at all? We are deciding between the 2. Thank you

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