Top 10 Best Hotels in South America

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During a three-month trip to South America, I stayed in some pretty fantastic hotels.  I stayed in some shitholes too.  But this post will focus on the positive, which fortunately I found much more of in South America!

And the best news about these hotels?  They cost around….$40.  $40!!?!!  You can’t even stay at a crappy hotel in the U.S. for that price.  I can say, without hesitation: each of the 10 hotels below has more charm, and more character than most U.S. hotel chains.  Having just come off a road trip through the Western United States, staying at my fair share roadside hotels, I can tell you: I never spent less than $90-100.  And the level of quality just doesn’t compete with what I found in South America. 

So….let’s take a trip!  If this is your first introduction to hotels in South America, prepare to be surprised…

  1. JW Marriott Cusco – Cusco, Peru – Luxury Hotel 

JW Marriott Hotel Cusco

Our first stop is to Cusco, Peru – the gateway to Machu Picchu, found high up in the Andes at over 11,000 feet.  But don’t worry: they provide oxygen in your rooms at the Marriott.  I’ve covered this hotel in a previous post about Cusco, and though it’s not cheap (and doesn’t meet my average nightly price), it’s probably the hotel I recall most fondly.  I loved their staff, I loved the peace and tranquility of their rooms – especially after being out trekking, and I loved working in their lobby, people-watching and chatting with staff and guests alike.  The location in Cusco is superb, one-block off the main square, and if I went back to Cusco tomorrow – this would be my first stop. Highly recommended.  Price: $120-300+ (if you have a family member who works for Marriott and can get you a discount – use it here)!

2. Anaconda Lodge – Puerto Maldonado, Peru – Mid-range Lodge

Anaconda Lodge - Puerto Maldonado, Peru

From Cusco, we’re taking a quick flight up to Puerto Maldonado, in the heart of the Amazon, for our stay at the Anaconda LodgeGeorge the Monkey, is waiting to hang out with you on the porch, and Wadee is ready to serve you up some awesome Thai food.  You’re IN the jungle here: your room is a private, wooden hut, and you’ll walk through the jungle to get there.  If you’re not adventurous: this place probably isn’t for you.  It’s close to the airport, but a bit of a walk to town.  So if you’d rather be close to shops and restaurants – stay in town instead.  The Wi-Fi is pretty crappy – but who really cares…you’re in the jungle!  Showers are cold, but since the weather is so steamy – it really doesn’t matter.  I loved the atmosphere of this place, and of course, I fell in love with George the Monkey.  Recommended.  Price: $29.

Anaconda Lodge - Puerto Maldonado, Peru

3. Posada Santa Barbara – Chucuito, Peru, Lake Titicaca region – Mid-range Hotel 

Posada Santa Barbara - Chucuito, Peru

This is one of my favorite places in all of South America.  Entirely made of stone, it feels like you’re walking into your very own fairytale.  I literally squealed with glee when I walked into my stone room – I felt like Goldilocks.  Set up on a hill, the views of Lake Titicaca are mesmerizing.  There’s a restaurant and bar with wooden benches and good food, and it’s a great place to meet other travelers.  Not to mention, the family who owns it are wonderful.  The older man who built the posada (himself) took me horseback riding one afternoon, then to lunch, then he prepared the sauna for me upon our return.  Heaven.  Chucuito is a quiet little town situated around a square, and shuts down pretty early at night – so a stay at the Posada is really best if you’re looking for relaxation and  a great place to read, write, or explore the beautiful surrounding area from.  Highly recommended. Price: $25-50

Posada Santa Barbara - Chucuito, Peru

4. Novotel Cusco – Cusco, Peru – Luxury Hotel 

Novotel Cusco - Cusco, Peru

For the price of a budget hotel in the States, you can stay in a beautiful, 16th-century mansion in Cusco.  You can sip your morning coffee luxuriously in their quiet courtyard, or step out their front doors and stroll a few short blocks to Cusco’s main square.  Compared to other luxury hotels in Cusco, this place is a bargain – and the only detractor I can offer is that their rooms look more like Ikea than Peru.  Other than that, I loved this place.  From room service to a great breakfast, to my lovely view of the Cusco cathedrals, I thoroughly enjoyed staying here.  And I loved my quiet room, on the 5th floor, in the building furthest from the street.  It’s very hard to find a quiet room in Cusco, due to all the festivals – so if this is important to you: book here.  Price: $90. 

Novotel Cusco - Cusco, Peru

5. Radisson Hotel & Suites San Isidro – Lima, Peru – Luxury Hotel 

Radisson Hotel & Suites San Isidro - Lima, Peru

This was my largest room in South America by a mile.  I could’ve hosted a party for twenty people in that room.  After Cusco, where rooms (even in luxury hotels) tend to be smaller, I reveled in having so much space – it felt like the height of luxury to me.  But the primary reason I chose to stay here though was for the safety of its neighborhood: San Isidro, next to Miraflores, is one of Lima’s nicest zip codes.  And since I’d heard many warnings about crime in Lima, from both travelers and Peruvians alike, I opted to stay in a place where I felt safe, particularly as I was on my own at the time.  You’ll find all the amenities you’d expect from a luxury hotel here (minus a bit of character – I mean, it’s a Radisson, after all), excellent (big) bathrooms, room service, and the hotel is walkable to several restaurants and markets if you need to stock up on supplies.  Recommended.  Price: $90+.

6. La Gran Via – Cartagena, Colombia – Luxury Condo 

La Gran Via - Cartagena, Colombia

From Peru, we’re headed now to one of the sexiest places on the planet: Cartagena, Colombia!  I’ve wanted to visit Cartagena ever since watching “Romancing the Stone” – let’s be honest.  And Cartagena does not disappoint.  Luckily, neither did our apartment.  My friend found it on VRBO, and we lucked out: our room was huge and immaculate, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the ocean and Cartagena’s skyline.  The rooftop pool was also a magnificent place to watch the sunset, or spend the afternoon relaxing and swimming.  You’ve got a five-minute walk to several greatBoca Grande restaurants and markets – and you’re about a five-minute cab ride from Cartagena’s historic Old Town district.  For the price – you just can’t beat the quality.  We extended our stay from five days to ten – we loved this place so much.  Highly recommended. Price: $60

La Gran Via - Cartagena, Colombia

7. Kolor Hotel Boutique – Medellin, Colombia – Mid-Range Boutique Hotel 

Kolor Hotel Boutique - Medellin, Colombia

I adored staying here.  Set in Medellin’s high-end El Poblado district, you’re within walking distance to the hottest nightclubs and restaurants in town, filled with some of Colombia’s most beautiful people.  El Poblado is the only place in South America where I actually felt underdressed; people here dress to impress.  Kolor Hotel has unique rooms, each with a different color scheme (mine was pink, with the best bathtub I found anywhere in South America), great breakfasts to choose from each morning, indoor and outdoor seating for dining, a fantastic bed and cozy pillows, and a quiet location on a more residential side street of El Poblado.  My room had a sound system, small sitting area, great Wi-Fi, hot shower – basically, everything I could want in a room.  And friendly staff.  I felt totally safe here, despite Medellin’s dangerous reputation.  Highly recommended.  Price: $50.   

8. GHL Style Hotel San Diego – Medellin, Colombia – Luxury Hotel 

GHL Style Hotel San Diego - Medellin, Colombia

I loved this room.  It was spacious and felt like a breath of fresh air after the pollution of Medellin (one of the city’s major detractors).  They have a rooftop restaurant with killer views of Medellin, which is a huge selling point.  You’re close to two huge Medellin malls (Premium Plaza & Centro Comercial San Diego) – but if shopping isn’t really your thing, it’s quite a hike to reach any of the fun districts in town, like El Poblado, or major sights like Plaza Botero.  Luckily, you can take the metro or a taxi from here pretty easily.  Great quality for the price – great bathroom, hot shower, fast Wi-Fi, modern amenities.  Recommended.  Price: $35-60.

GHL Style Hotel San Diego - Medellin, Colombia

9. Gloria Galapagos – Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – Mid-range Hotel 

Gloria Galapagos - Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Ohhhhh…how I love this place.  Just thinking about it makes me think of balmy nights in the Galapagos, returning to my crisp, cool, air-conditioned room after a night of dancing at the Bongo Bar.  This is a family-run place (they are lovely), and my room was sunny and yellow, with three beds.  Yes, three.  I could’ve hosted a slumber party in there.  Not to mention, the views of the island are spectacular.  You’re right in the middle of town in Puerto Ayora, so you can walk everywhere: to the water, to restaurants and coffee shops, to Charles Darwin Research Station, and of course to the main dock.  Bathrooms are okay, not great – and the shower water isn’t hot.  If things like this bother you: find a more expensive place.  If, however, you’re on a budget but still want a killer room with a view?  This is your place.  Highly recommended.  Price: $30.

Gloria Galapagos - Puerto Ayora, Isla Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

10. Del Parque Hotel & Suites – Cuena, Ecuador – Mid-Range Hotel

Del Parque Hotel & Suites - Cuena, Ecuador

I walked into my room at the Del Parque and immediately said, “Ahhhhhh.”  This place hit that romantic spot in my soul, from the spaciousness of the room, to the wooden floors, to the charm of the old, creaky building and its blue wooden doors, but most of all, to the view from my terrace of the bright blue cathedrals of Cuenca – the kind of view that stops you right where you’re standing, making you look up at the sky in wonder.  I loved the staff here; they anticipated my arrival and were waiting for me on the curb when my taxi pulled up, even though it was late at night.  And the location couldn’t be better – you are right on the main square in Cuenca, and can easily walk to restaurants and most of the city’s main sights.  Highly recommended.  Price: $30.

This covers my Top 10 Hotels in South America – but believe me, this list just begins to scratch the surface of what’s available in South America.  There are so many phenomenal places to stay, for a fraction of the price you would pay in the States.  It’s exciting to know that this level and variety of accommodations exists just south of us!  What are some of your favorite places to stay in South America?  Let me know in the comments below!

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