The Marriot hotel is probably not the first on most people’s list of must-visit hotels, especially in Cusco, a city brimming with some of South America’s very best accommodations. I’m sure there are many people who love the Marriot chain, are part of the fan club and won’t hear a word against them, but from my experience the majority of people are looking for something locally run, with character and charm, that will give them a unique experience to remember forever. Marriot hotels don’t generally fit this description, at least not from my experience. But the new Marriot in Cusco may force me to rethink my opinion on this juggernaut, as it is a hotel that is filled with character and charm, and certainly a place where you can have a very memorable stay.
An image I had of Marriot hotels was of white, clean surfaces and sparse, modern rooms. All very generic, quite sterile and reminiscent in many ways of a hospital. I’m sure that is a very unfair description, and there are probably thousands of exceptional Marriott’s out there, but it’s just the idea I had. No rationale behind it. But upon entering the Marriot in Cusco I had all my misconceived stereotypes blown away as here is a hotel that can rank alongside Monasterio and La Casona as Cusco’s very best. Once a colonial monastery, the hotel has been painstakingly converted over a six year period, with the construction team constantly being delayed by the discovery of yet another Incan wall or relic. But this has turned into a positive as a sense of history is etched into the very building with the hotel constructed to resemble a colonial mansion, with a large courtyard and its 153 rooms around the edges. Those of you who have seen the nearby Monasterio hotel you will have a pretty good idea of the look of the Marriot, as the artwork that adorns most of the walls, the dark corridors, high ceilings, and lush colors are all reminiscent of its more famous rival. There is a real sense of grandeur and opulence and it is a hotel that could only be described as luxurious. Contrary to my ideas of Marriot hotels, this is a unique place that will really stay in the memory and there is nothing generic about it.
The hotel has used the ancient construction to its advantage and rooms all have different selling points, some backing on to old Inca walls, some with views over the courtyard, etc. The majority of rooms are different in size and shape as the construction team was restricted and had to build around the old monastery or incorporate the walls into its construction. Consequently they have a one-of-a-kind feel, with lots of special little touches, as well as being spacious, extremely comfortable and attractively decorated. The suite, which is more akin to a one bedroom apartment, is particularly sumptuous! And Marriot have not left any of the history slip away, as the hotel is equipped with two exhibition rooms housing artifacts and examples of Incan and Pre-Inca walls. One of the rooms in particular houses a huge ruin which is quite something to look at and makes a nice 10 minute detour on the way to dinner! And naturally the hotel has a spa to rival any other, with a delicious heated bathing pool, jacuzzi, massage rooms, and all the other things needed to pamper yourself. All very relaxing.
The name may put some people off, and I can understand that, but if you can’t get a room in Monasterio, Casa Cartagena, or La Casona, the Marriot is well worth considering. Don’t just dismiss it out of hand, as although most people look for smaller, charming, and unique places, this Marriot really does feel like that. It is beautifully decorated, with gorgeous rooms and all the fabulous services you would expect from a large international 5 star chain. Just forget the name and enjoy it!