El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

***Author’s Note: I had the great pleasure of staying at the El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo, not more than a week ago, in January 2018.  Everything written below was captured in my journal, from the balcony of their hotel.  Having traveled all over the Sacred Valley, I can tell you: there is no better place to break up your journey to Machu Picchu than at El Albergue.  Much of Peru travel can be strenuous, tiring, & even arduous: El Albergue is the place to relax & revel in peace, quiet, & absolutely heavenly food & views. 

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo, Girl Who Travels the World

Welcome to El Alberge Hotel in Ollantaytambo!

Map of Ollantaytambo, Peru

To get oriented with the Sacred Valley & Ollantaytambo’s place in it, take a look at the map below.  You’ll see that it’s almost half-way between Cusco (the largest city in the Sacred Valley) & Machu Picchu.  This is what makes El Albergue the perfect resting point between the two destinations ~ as the journey can take over five hours!  Cusco, Machu Picchu, & the El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo are all highlighted on the map ~ simply hover over the red dots. 

El Albergue Hotel

Machu Picchu

Aguas Calientes

Cusco

Practical Info

  • El Albergue Hotel Price: $70-160+. Click here for hotel photos & availability.
  • How to Get from Cusco to Ollantaytambo: Bus (longest = 3 hours), train, car or taxi (quickest = 2 hours).
  • Best Way from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu: By train. Check Peru Rail or Inca Rail for pricing.  
  • How Many Hours from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes: One hour, forty-five minutes by train.  Trains are typically prompt.
  • Best Luxury Hotels in Cusco: My favorite hotels in Cusco are the JW Marriott El Convento, Palacio del Inka, & the Novotel Cusco.  El Albergue also has a sister property in Cusco called the El Balcon Hotel, located near the Plaza de Armas, with incredible views of the city.  Free transport is offered between the two properties. 
  • Best Luxury Hotels in Aguas Calientes: Both Inkaterra properties are fantastic ~ El Mapi (less expensive) & Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo (ranked #2 Hotel in South America by Conde Nast).  If you actually want to see Machu Picchu from your room, there’s only one hotel in the world where you can do this, & you’ll pay accordingly: Belmond Sanctuary Lodge.
 El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

It’s almost like a dream.  I’m sitting on the gorgeous, golden deck at the El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo, Peru, looking out towards the legendary Andes Mountains & the ruins of Ollantaytambo.  We arrived last night on the train from Aguas Calientes, gateway to Machu Picchu.  The journey took less than two hours, through some of the most stunning scenery in this place that is known as the Sacred Valley of the Incas. 

We entered the El Albergue Hotel directly through the Ollantaytambo train station (which at first, we found a bit odd).  Walking through a cute cafe, we found ourselves in a quaint restaurant ~ & from there, were guided by handsome Peruvian gentlemen to the hotel lobby, next to the restaurant.  Once inside, you’re a world apart from the bustling train station.  Thank god we didn’t need to carry our bags any further!  After a day spent hiking Machu Picchu, our energy is flagging.  We are ready to relax.

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

After hours spent hiking all over Machu Picchu, we are ready to set our bags down & relax…

One of these gentlemen carries our bags through a beautiful garden, up some stairs, & shows us to our room.  It’s gorgeous, large, & has plenty of benches to rest our luggage on.  We feel instantly at home.  Sitting on our deck (we have a Superior Balcony), El Albergue’s organic farm lies just to my left, past a dividing wall, above which soars greenery of all kinds.  The garden below, winding in & out of stone paths, has flowers of every shape, size, & color. 

Past the organic farm, lie the majestic Andes Mountains, the most distant ones capped by snow ~ even in January.  Though it’s summer all over South America right now, there is technically no summer in Peru: it’s either rainy season or dry season.  The wettest months of the year being December thru February; the driest June thru August (the busiest season for Machu Picchu). 

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

The garden & grounds of El Albergue Hotel, in Ollantaytambo, Peru ~ less than two hours from Machu Picchu.

Back on my balcony, the ruins of Ollantaytambo lie straight ahead.  I marvel at how they’re cut up two steep mountainsides (the Incas were nothing less than dramatic!) ~ to the left & right, with a valley lying between them.  Steep hiking trails wind up the mountain on the left side, leading up to small buildings & a view point. 

Being back in Peru, part of me is at home.

Nina, my travel companion for this trip, dreamt last night that angels were outside on our porch ~ visiting guardian angels from Machu Picchu.  Perhaps it sounds strange: but to me, this does not seem strange at all in this environment. 

The altitude is high here, but our spirits are higher.  Fresh food delights & tickles our olfactory senses ~ all food served at their restaurant comes directly from their garden.  It is food so fresh, that we fawn with pleasure as each new dish is placed before us.  It makes the food we eat back in America seem absolutely dull & lifeless by comparison ~ even expensive food purchased at our local organic groceries.

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

Food so fresh, we groan involuntarily with pleasure after each bite.

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

Something about this place is different.  When we partake in the “Pachamanca” lunch the next day ~ Gabriel, El Albergue’s head garden master & chef, takes us on a tour of the garden, which is more beautiful than we even imagined.  Everywhere we turn is a breathtaking photo waiting to be taken.  During our tour, he informs us that Peru has outlawed genetically modified food (GMO’s) for the next 40 years.  Could this be why the food here tastes so radically different than what we eat in the States?  

Peru has outlawed genetically modified food (GMO’s) for the next 40 years.  Could this be why food here tastes so radically different compared to what we eat in the States? 

They have 3,000 varieties of potatoes in Peru, he tells us.  Thirty varieties of sweet potatoes.  Each is unique.  Peru’s largest export is grapes ~ their biggest importer being China.  Asparagus comes in second, & is delivered all over the world: from the United States, to Europe, to China. 

And yet, eating it here must indeed be the greatest of pleasures: because it’s closest to the source.  We had a mango our first morning in Peru, that was SO incredibly, deliciously sweet, we cried out with joy!  It was, without doubt, one of the best things I’ve ever put in my mouth.  And I don’t even like mangoes (or so I thought)!  I never write about food ~ but this food, it seems I could write sonnets about.  It simply bursts with life, delighting the senses. 

Gabriel tells us that Peru does not import any food ~ none AT ALL.  This seems miraculous to us!  They simply produce everything they need.  And they produce it all without GMO’s. 

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

Our Pachamanca lunch, being cooked in the earth at a staggering 850 degrees.

Peru = A Food Lover’s Paradise

All the food we’ve had in Peru so far, has been so unbelievably GOOD ~ so ALIVE ~ you just want to RAVE about it!!!  Tell everyone you know about it!!  Dance!  Sing!  Rejoice!  American food tastes impotent when compared to this food.  If it is not already, I predict that Peru will become an absolute foodie destination: people from all over the world will travel here to remind themselves what food should really taste like: it is that good. 

Dogs bark, protecting the farm from unwanted critters, then go back to basking in the sun.  As the day warms, they move over to the shaded areas.  They don’t beg for food (they’re too smart for that), but they do wait patiently; Gabriel tells us they sometimes get chicken bones or other goodies following meals.  A new puppy plays with his mama in the sunshine, rolling around in the grass, playfully biting his mother’s ankles. 

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

It’s a dog’s life in Peru. (My friend Nina with one of the farm’s many happy dogs.)

Pachamanca Lunch….Al Fresco

It’s impossible not to smile here, being outside on the farm, in the sunshine, watching the men prepare our “Pachamanca,” traditional Peruvian feast ~ by literally cooking it in the earth.  “Pacha” means earth.  “Manca” means (clay) pot.  Mother Earth is literally cooking our lunch today, at a sweltering 850 degrees, covered by rocks.  After a quick fifteen minutes, lunch is ready & removed from the earth ~ then brought over to a large table shaded by the sun.

Lunch is served. 

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

Prepare to feast…

 El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

Roosters started crowing at five this morning.  The sun woke us up early, beckoning us to come outside & listen to the birdsong, while watching the sun rise over the Andes.  The mountains are calling us.  Ruins are begging to be climbed.  And all the while ~ bright, blue trains come & go from the Ollantaytambo station, carrying tired but happy passengers to & from Peru’s most famous destination, Machu Picchu.

This is life in the Andes.  This is life in Peru. 

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

This is Peru.

El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo

They strive, here at El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo, to “live coherently.”  I love that. 

It’s not just a hotel ~ it’s their family home.  And you can feel that from the moment you arrive.  In a home, people take more care.  Walls are filled with paintings, local artwork & weaving.  Dark wood beams are exposed & juxtaposed against white walls, leading up to high ceilings.  The hotel radiates elegance, yet simplicity at the same time.  You feel as though you’re staying in someone’s home, yet not intruded upon.  These words come to mind, when thinking of El Albergue: Refined.  Authentic.  Connected to the earth.  Gracious.  Simple, yet beautiful.  Nature.  Views.  These are views & sounds one would never tire of. 

On your way to or from Machu Picchu, I highly recommend taking the time to enjoy the respite that is the El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo.  It makes a perfect almost-halfway point between Cusco & Machu Picchu, & breaks up what can be a rather long & tedious journey.  If you have time, stay more than one night ~ & without a doubt, try their Pachamanca lunch as well as a meal in their restaurant.  I promise, you will not be disappointed!

xoxo Noelia 

Read Next: Top 10 Tips for Traveling in Peru

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Noelle Bertram is a restaurant owner, former fitness coach, Huffington Post writer, & all-around entrepreneur who travels full-time now & writes all about it! Catch up with her on Instagram or @ her website about being the ultimate, fearless travel girl: GirlWhoTravelstheWorld.com.
Why I Use World Nomads Travel Insurance

Whenever I travel ~ especially if I’m traveling solo, I always get travel insurance.  It gives me the peace of mind to go out and have all kinds of adventures, because I know someone’s got my back.  Who do I use? World Nomads. They cover you whether you’re sky-diving, spelunking, or volcano-boarding in Nicaragua: they’re not your average insurance company.  Read more about travel insurance here.

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