For our trip to Machu Picchu, we ended up deciding to book 5 nights at the Tambo del Inka, which is probably the nicest hotel in the whole Sacred Valley. The Tambo del Inka hotel is located in Urubamba, which is between Cusco and Ollantaytambo.
If your knowledge of Peruvian geography was as limited as mine was before this trip, then you might enjoy this fun chart – here are the 4 main cities you’ll see on your way to Machu Picchu (in order)
Cusco -> Urubamba -> Ollantaytambo -> Machu Picchu Pueblo (used to be called Aguas Calientes).
Those 4 cities are also in descending order of altitude, with Cusco being the highest. It’s about a 90 minute drive from Cusco to Urubamba, and then another 20-30 minutes to Ollantaytambo, and then to get to Machu Picchu Pueblo / Aguas Calientes you have to take the train to Machu Picchu (or hike the Inca Trail)
Here is a picture I took from an overlook during my time in Peru that might help explain the geography (Cusco would be well off to the right)
Tambo del Inka review – location
As mentioned, the Tambo del Inka hotel is located in Urubamba, Peru. Urubamba is in between Cusco and Machu Picchu. The Tambo del Inka has a very large property and any drivers or anyone in the Sacred Valley is going to know where it is in Urubamba. The Tambo del Inka is right on the main road from Cusco to Ollantaytambo, between the road and the Urubamba River. It’s also right across the street from the Mormon church in Urubamba, if that helps 🙂
The grounds of the Tambo del Inka hotel are quite large and very nice. It includes a lagoon, a nice path along the river, and nice flora and fauna
Costs of the Tambo del Inka
The Tambo del Inka is a Category 5 hotel, which means that it will be between 12,000 and 16,000 points per night. The SPG Category 5 hotel list will give you the dates it will cost 16,000 points / night. Remember the 5th night is free as well. We stayed for 5 nights which should have been 48,000 points total. There was not standard availability on one of the 5 nights we wanted to stay, so I ended up using 54,000 points total to upgrade to a Deluxe Terrace Room. I’m not quite sure how that math worked out but I decided to just go with it. If you check HotelsCombined.com or any other hotel booking site, you’ll see rates anywhere from USD$200 to $300 or more.
What really irked me about this hotel was that because it is a “luxury” hotel, they want to do everything for you (and charge you a pretty penny for it!) And I know that some people enjoy traveling like that – and that’s fine, but just not how *I* like to travel. And so it was frustrating when sometimes I would talk to the concierge and try to get a recommendation for something normal but they only wanted to steer me to the things they “could recommend”.
For a taxi to Ollantaytambo, the hotel will call you a taxi and charge you USD$25 (about S/80). If you’d rather, you can walk out to the main road from the hotel, turn left and walk about 5-6 blocks, you’ll get to what the locals call “Terminar” (where the speed bump is). This is where all the taxis and collectivos wait for people to go to Ollantaytambo
It is S/1.50 if you take a collectivo (van), but then you have to wait until it’s full before it leaves. A taxi should be S/15-20 (1/4 of the cost). I was told by my taxi driver that taxis start appearing there at about 3:30 a.m.
For pickup / dropoff from Cusco airport or Cusco city the Tambo del Inka hotel charges USD$80. I used TaxiDatum.com though I’m sure there are many other similarly priced services. I paid $65 for a ride from the airport that included a tour of the Pisac ruins, Pisac Market and an animal sanctuary. A direct airport transfer is USD$30 (over half as cheap as the hotel charges)
All of this was done in the name of “safety”. I asked about just getting a taxi outside and they said they could not guarantee “the experience”. Similarly, when I asked about food recommendations, they would only recommend 2 or 3 of the fanciest / most expensive restaurants, when there are tens of restaurants in town where you can eat for half the cost. I never felt unsafe in Urubamba or with any of the taxi drivers.
I’ve written before about how luxury hotels like this seem to nickel and dime you on everything – perhaps because they figure you’re “rich” and don’t care about money. Again, if you want a hotel that will cater to your every need and take care of everything for you, no matter the cost, that’s what you’re going to get here.
I did get some pretty good advice from the bellboys (men?) out front as well as the hotel guard / gate man out front. They would all give “real” answers but you’ll need to have some Spanish to talk to them.
Tambo del Inka review – Deluxe Terrace room
The Tambo del Inka is on a hill, so you walk in to the front of the hotel on the 3rd floor, and you walk out on the back side on either the 1st or 2nd floor. Our room was great. As I mentioned, we paid a bit more in points for a “Deluxe Terrace” room, which has a terrace that walks right out to the grounds
The room we had was decent sized though not a suite or anything
Another view of the room from the terrace side
There was a bathroom as well, with separate areas for toilet, sink and shower / bath combo
The shower was very nice (2 sprayer heads and great pressure)
Grounds, food and other amenities
As I mentioned before, the grounds at the Tambo del Inka hotel are gorgeous. We spent an hour or so on two different days just walking around the hotel itself
There is a fitness center with bike, treadmill, elliptical, free weights as well as a weight machine that you can configure in different ways. It’s located on the 2nd floor in the “Spa”. You can get a variety of spa treatments as well (of course, expensive), and the heated indoor / outdoor pool is also accessed through the pool. The pool overlooks a waterfall (pictured above from the other side), the grounds, the river below and the mountains on the other side of the river – very beautiful and serene.
There is also a train station on-site where you can buy train tickets to Machu Picchu. Note that (even if you buy your tickets online and therefore are not charged the markup by the hotel), typically the trains that leave from here (Urubamba) are about USD$20-30 more expensive than trains leaving / returning to Ollantaytambo, which is a S/15-20 (~USD$5) taxi ride from the hotel.
One other very nice thing about staying at a more upscale hotel like the Tambo del Inka is that they have US power outlets in all the rooms, and the water is safe to drink, which is not the case in some hostels and other places, I’m sure.
Another nice touch was that they delivered 2 chocolate truffles to our room each evening. By the last evening, we were sitting in our room wondering where our chocolate was!!!!
There is an onsite restaurant with room service, that is very expensive and which we did not use.
Wifi at the Tambo del Inka
The wifi at the hotel gets its own category because it was really bad, or, in the native Spanish, “el sucko” 🙂
It was so slow in our room – almost to the point of unusability. It would work sometimes and then flake out for a bit, and as we all know – bad wifi is worse than NO wifi. The wifi in the lobby was much better / stronger, but who wants to go out in the lobby to use wifi?
I have heard that Internet in Peru is spotty in general, but it felt very out of place for such a luxury hotel to have wi-fi so bad, so I felt it was worth a special mention
All in all the Tambo del Inka was a nice hotel in a great location – Urubamba was a great little city to walk around in. My style of travel is such that I would not recommend having much to do with the hotel / concierge / travel services, but your mileage may vary depending on your style of travel.