Belmond Sanctuary Lodge: Our visit and food experience

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Belmond Sanctuary Lodge: Our visit and food experience

After an amazing morning exploring the ruins of the Inca city of Machu Picchu we stopped by the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge – a hotel which opened in 2001 with the Belmond flag. We were kindly invited to taste their delicious dishes over lunch and to go on a full tour of the hotel.

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This is a place chosen by many travellers who prefer to start their tour of Machu Picchu very early in the morning, beating the queues which form when the first buses arrive from the nearest city (Aguas Calientes, which is about a 20-25 minute drive away). More often than not they come for 1 or 2 days, although some guests stay for longer periods.

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Family Travel Secret
The truth is that the hotel is conveniently located just next to the entrance to the ruins of Machu Picchu. Any traveller that wants to be at the ruins very early in the morning, but also wants to stay somewhere which offers the utmost comfort, choses the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge.

 

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As it is in such an exclusive location – it’s the only hotel on top of the mountain where Machu Picchu is located – and offers outstanding services, it is to be expected that the rates of the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge are higher when compared with other hotels. The Belmond has a limited number of rooms and it is constantly ensuring excellence in the service which their guests receive. We were able to confirm that during the time we spent at the hotel.

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Due to its strategic location, guests there are usually used to staying at luxury hotels (including the ones in the Belmond Collection) and generally want to travel very comfortably when visiting Machu Picchu.

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Our food experience at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Our visit started at the Restaurante Tampu. This restaurant is for hotel guests and is accessible through the lobby, although if there is space visitors can sometimes be accommodated there. Our charismatic host Mrs. Giuliana Palomino, Guest Relationship Manager at the hotel, asked us to have lunch before the visit so we could get our energy back after a long morning at Machu Picchu. Our journey had started at 4am with the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes and then the bus from Aguas Calientes up the hills of Machu Picchu. Ruth entered the ruins at 7am to climb the sacred mountain of Huayna Picchu on the opposite side, while Noah rested in my arms at the entrance until 8am (so he was a bit less tired).

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Right at the entrance to the restaurant there is a small station with 3 different lemonades. Each of them is better than the last. Noah enjoyed the one with Ayrampo (a cactus red seed) so much that he had 2 full glasses. Ruth and I liked that one too, but we preferred the other two: Melissa lemonade and Lemonade with orange, Andean mint and tangerine. Those lemonades were very refreshing, and we would even have to say that they were the best lemonades we have ever tasted.

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Next our helpful waiter explained a bit the dishes on the menu and we asked him for a recommendation as we wanted to have typical dishes from Peru.

For our starters we chose Causa de papa peruanita (potato filled with chicken in aioli sauce, avocado and cherry tomatoes), Ceviche de trucha del Valle Sagrado (trout served with sweet potato and Peruvian corn, with a small pepper to give a bit more taste) and Sopa Criolla (with beef, noodles, pepper and a delicious sauce). Noah loves soup and was enjoying his, but when I offered him a slice of my causa, then that was it – he finished my whole dish. My revenge was to finish his soup; call me a bad father but I don’t regret it J. The soup was simply amazing, well balanced and consistent. Ok … I offered Noah a bit more but he was looking forward to his burger for his main course and was also enjoying a bit of Ruth’s ceviche.

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For my second dish I had the Lomo Saltado (a very juicy tenderloin of beef with potato, rice and corn), Ruth had the Filete de trucha (grilled trout with chia seed crust, asparagus, chili pepper sauce and apple) and Noah had a cheeseburger (with bacon, tomato, onions and lettuce). Fish is not my favourite dish, and particularly not when it comes to salmon and trout, so I was hoping that my Lomo would be cooked the way I like my meat, or I’d need to have a slice of Noah’s burger … Damn, I’m a terrible father!

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But no, the Lomo Saltado was fantastic! The meat was cooked just the way I like it and it had an indescribable sauce. Hats off to the chef!

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Ruth loved her ceviche as well and Noah had a bit of his burger that he also enjoyed very much but he was immediately full. Ruth and I were also full, but we shared what was left of the burger while talking to Giuliana.

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Once our main course was finished we were all very full. The portions were very satisfying and all very exquisite, so it was certainly worth what they cost. Even though we were full Giuliana and the waiter asked us to make the effort to try the different flavors of ice cream. I was the only one that accepted immediately, but I knew that Ruth would at least try a mouthful.

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We had 4 flavors: orange, vanilla, eucalyptus and algarrobina (like a mix of chocolate and milk). They were all amazing!

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Family Travel Secret
We could simply mention one specific dish that might be of interest to our readers as one of the hotel’s secrets, but the fact is that all the dishes we chose were simply delicious.

 

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Visiting the facilities and bedrooms at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

Well, with the 3 of us full and energized once more it was time for a site tour. We left Noah watching some cartoons while we were walking around the hotel, as it isn’t much fun for him.

The other restaurant at the hotel is called Tinkuy and offers a daily buffet lunch with international and Peruvian dishes. It welcomes visitors from Machu Picchu by reservation and it is conveniently located just in front of the entrance to the ruins.

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Walking around inside the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge we were shown the 2 single massage rooms which are available to all guests, and Giuliana told us that it is also possible to get couples’ massages outside the hotel at the temple.

Then we were shown some of the rooms. There are 31 rooms split into 4 categories: Standard, which has no view; Mountain view, where guests can see the Huayna Picchu mountain and where there can be an additional bed (unique except in the Suites); Terrazza, with access to the terrace and a view of the mountain; and the Suites.

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All rooms at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge, except for the 2 suites, are the same size: 16m2. The only difference is that Standard rooms don’t have a view and the Terrazza rooms have mountain and terrace views.

Apart from that all the rooms and bathrooms have the usual 5-star amenities such as a safe, shampoo, liquid soap, extra pillows, etc.

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Visiting the outside part of the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge

The weather was unfortunately a bit cloudy and rainy at the point when we started the tour. That is Machu Picchu for you! The weather is unpredictable as you can have different seasons on the same day.

Our pictures of the facilities located outdoors were unfortunately not great, but at least we got an idea of what it is like to spend the night there.

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In any case, the outdoor part of the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is extremely pleasant as you actually go into a forest with lots of greenery, hummingbirds, a garden with beautiful orchids and even a small waterfall, which made us feel very relaxed.

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Next, the thing we were curious to see at the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge: the open air temple for massages. We did not ask, but we assume that if the weather is good this must be a very popular place with guests.

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It is certainly a plus to have a massage in the middle of a secluded green area, with birds, orchids, the sound of a waterfall and beautiful views.

 

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Finally we saw the day room, which is a place for guests who have already checked out and need a place to rest, shower or have some drinks. This is provided free of charge to all guests.

The Belmond Sanctuary Lodge is a hotel to remember and we promise that we will come back in the future in order to spend more time in this high class hotel. Thanks a lot to Giuliana for having us!

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Important facts:
Access: via Aguas Calientes, taking the bus up the hill (about US$ 12 one way) or walking up the mountain (about 1-1½ hours hiking)

Rates: it can vary with the season and board chosen, but prices start at US$ 1000 per night

Dishes at the Restaurante Tampu: ranging between US$ 17-25 each (starter or main)

Distance from the entrance to Machu Picchu: just few meters

Family Travel Secrets was welcomed to a site tour and food tasting at Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. All opinions and oodles of pictures remain our own.

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