Following all of the recommendations to acclimate to the higher altitude in Cusco before moving on to our seven-day adventure to Machu Picchu, Chris and I decided to book two pre-trekking nights in the Inca Empire capital as well as two additional nights post-trip. Situated in the heart of Cusco, but just right outside of the main hustle and bustle, the El Mercado sounded like the perfect location for a little acclimating.
Chris and I arrived to the El Mercado feeling slightly woozy from the altitude change and a lack of breakfast or lunch, but we were instantly soothed by genuinely warm hospitality, beautiful surroundings, and cups of coca leaf hot tea. The hotel courtyard hosted a huge collection of plants that would have impressed my garden-loving mom, as well as cozy benches equipped with wool blankets surrounding a fire pit. Not pictured: my delicious super late-afternoon lunch at their restaurant La Taberna that I ate way too quickly to photograph.
After filling out some guest forms, we were escorted to our rooms on the top floor and I instantly fell in love with our home for the next two nights. This is one of those hotels you’ll want to stay in as long as possible. The cleanliness, comfort, service, and amenities were all top-notch. Not to mention, look how cute that room is! The unbelievably comfortable bed did make it somewhat difficult to get up for our early morning departures so perhaps that’s one downside, but it was heavenly for the days we were able to sleep in a bit.
Luckily I had the foresight to book the El Mercado for our post-trek stay in Cusco as well, so we could look forward to returning. And on that note, the hotel staff graciously held onto our extra luggage during the week of our trek and kept our belongings safe so that we didn’t have to lug extra items around the Sacred Valley.
The large bathroom was perfectly appointed with fluffy towels and upscale toiletries as well as plenty of bottled drinking water which was replenished the next day. And something I truly appreciate in the bathroom but don’t always have: so much counter space!
This was the view from our window! We could spot the Plaza de Armas a few blocks away, but the area surrounding the hotel was blissfully quiet.
We especially enjoyed making use of the courtyard in the evenings when the fire pit was ablaze and the happy hour menu was open for orders. We loved the street food snacks, pisco sours, and a Peruvian treat similar to a donut called picarones. Chris and I curled up with alpaca wool blankets and relaxed to the sounds of local musicians performing for the happy hour crowd. And just in case you’re wondering if you’ll get a quiet night’s sleep here – the fiesta ended at 7pm each night.
I missed snapping a photo of the entire breakfast spread, but El Mercado had every breakfast option imaginable in their El Desayunador breakfast lounge including a long list of made-to-order crepes, as well as something we couldn’t have imagined: the Emoliente drink! Feeling adventurous, we tried this therapeutic herbal cocktail (non-alcoholic) one morning. It’s said to have medicinal properties good for liver support, digestion, and general health, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. It reminded me of warm beet juice, even though I don’t think it had beets in it. Or maybe it did? There were a lot of natural ingredients! I can report that while it wasn’t my most favorite drink ever (it’s probably one of those flavors that has to grow on you), I did feel a good boost of healthy energy. Try it and let me know how you like it!
We loved everything about El Mercado and would highly recommend it as the perfect spot to begin or end your Inca adventure around the Sacred Valley. We easily walked to all of the Cusco sights and restaurants mentioned in this post. I love that next time we’re in Cusco, we definitely already know exactly where to stay!
Note: This post is not sponsored by El Mercado and I did not receive anything in exchange for this post. We just loved our stay with them!