Where to stay in Peru
Lima and Cusco have the largest choice of hotels in Peru. Other cities and areas where you can find 5- and 4-star hotels are Arequipa, Cajamarca, Chiclayo, Colca Canyon, Ica, Iquitos, Puno, the Sacred Valley and Trujillo (the grading does not always match international standards).
Throughout Lima and in most major towns, there are many economical pensiones and hospedajes (guest houses). The quality of accommodation in the provinces varies considerably, but hotels are frequently of a good standard. In jungle areas accommodation ranges from 5-star eco-resorts to hammocks strung outdoors, though most options fall somewhere in between. Hotel prices in the provinces are lower than in the capital. For backpackers, Lima, Cusco and Arequipa in particular have hostels where you’ll find like-minded travellers, happy hours on drinks and dog-eared travel guides.
Grading: Hotels are classified by the star system, the highest and most luxurious being 5 stars. The level of comfort, quality of service and general infrastructure are the criteria for inclusion in each grade. Prices vary accordingly. All accommodation prices are subject to a 19% general sales tax (IGV), however foreigners who can demonstrate they live outside of Peru are not charged the tax. Showing a passport and Tarjeta Andina de Migracion (TAM Migration Card) is usually sufficient to have the tax deducted from your bill. Hotels of the higher categories might also add 1-13% service charges. It is advisable to reserve a room during the peak tourist season (June to September) and during major holidays such as Easter week.
Bed and breakfast
Many hospedajes and guest houses will cook you breakfast, though it is not necessarily included in the room price. But these are the closest thing you’ll find to a bed and breakfast.
Other than designated spots on popular trekking routes, no formal arrangements exist in Peru, and it is generally considered too dangerous to just pitch a tent anywhere. That said, you can often ask farmers if you can camp on their land – expect to pay a small fee for this, though they might well offer you breakfast.
Homestay Accommodation: It is possible to arrange a stay in a Peruvian family home, particularly if you enrol in a Spanish-language course, as the companies which organise these courses often work with local families to provide cheap accommodation and tourist income to Peruvians.
Youth Hostels: There are more than 100 youth hostels in the country with dormitory, single or twin rooms. They typically have a bar or café and a kitchen, and usually come with breakfast included in the room price, though don’t expect more than bread rolls, jam and coffee, and perhaps an egg thrown in. You’ll find dorms and private rooms on offer, and good information for travellers wanting to know more about the local destinations.
Rural Farmstay: It is possible to stay on a finca (farm) in a volunteering capacity. It is usual to stay for at least several weeks if not months, and the general procedure is to receive free or very cheap board and food in return for working on the farm and helping to keep the running smooth. This is not an easy option (you will be busy from morning to night) but is very rewarding. Check out WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) at www.wwoof.org for more information.
Eco-Resorts: Peru, along with the rest of Latin America, is becoming quite heavy on eco-resorts. These are usually found in rural areas and have for the most part been set up by expats from various places, including the USA and Europe. You’ll find several located within the Amazon area, and while they are not cheap places to stay, they offer the chance to sleep in relative comfort in astounding areas without huge environmental impact. Check out www.amazonrefuge.com for a truly off the grid example.