Casa Cartagena - Home away from home
It's Cusco, December and for me a little Kiwi girl this mountain weather is EXTREME. I immediately fell in love with Cusco. The colonial buildings, Mamitas (cute, elderly Peruvian mama's) in traditional local wear with their trusty baby and adult Alpacas (yes Alpacas), plus not to forget the mini goatlings by their side for the inquisitive tourists pleasure (and a little pocket money received for every photo taken).
Back to the extreme weather. So I had been staying in a little colonial apartment with no heating, traditional Spanish courtyard (super cute), and no heating (did I say that already?), oh and questionable hot water. Now two days, three days in I'm still positive. Four, five days in my body is feeling like a permanent ice block. I get up in the morning and try and practice yoga with the clothes I slept in and more (it's far too cold to try and shower) and I'm still shaking and have cold hands fifteen minutes in (this isn't much fun - where's the fun -I'm in Cusco I'm meant to be happy aren't I?). To cut a long story short I get to the point Its well, time for the saving money thing to stop and time for luxury plus we are heading to New Years, which means an evening of fireworks and the current roof situation being wood with huge plastic 'sunlights' wasn't feeling a sufficient noise or protective barrier to the roaring crackers. Meanwhile I'm also dealing with a four day burn to my face for when the clouds clear in Cusco in Dec. it's desert heat! (How it can be so cold then so hot within half an hour still baffles me!). Super thin air 12,000 feet above sea level and within twenty minutes my face had become a red boil. Painful and swollen. You should know if you visit Cusco during this time the weather is not mild and when the clouds come back have your ski wear very very close.
So I decide after a thorough search for a spa hotel on Casa Cartagena. It was the best choice I could have possibly made. The first visit has been subsequented by three more and it is one of those places that feels like home. I've travelled all over the world and stayed in many world class resorts yet this is currently in my top two!
On my first visit I was upgraded to the presidential suite and it was nothing short of spectacular. A huge king bed with a seperate room that fits four more. A bathtub and a jacuzzi pictured below (my favourite feature, and not only a balcony yet a seperate adjoined suite with modern table and chairs and lounge area with beautiful views of the carefully crafted and maintained garden area.
To the garden area.. three of my favourite features are the white lace iron tables with vine creepers along the posts and walls where the tables are, then the large white ball light in the center of the garden area gives a feeling of modern to the colonial feel and thirdly the cactus walls with many varieties.
The breakfast area is extremely homely like the rest of the hotel, and i immediately appreciated with great awe the boutique ceramic plates, wooden serving boards and carefully designed space. It felt chic rustic, inviting, and high class in one with impeccable service from the time you enter to the time you leave. And the Qoya spa.. the spa! Where to start?! The hot massage pool is glorious. The colour scheme is superb and the eucalyptus sauna divine. I adore all the deep green plants along the white wall backdrop giving a LA feel. The 22nd century looking shower and the bamboo wall a haven which proved useful for a mini photoshoot also. I broke my record last week and stayed in the hot pool talking to a friend for 6 hours! My feet looked like I was 108 years old plus some.
Food.. the papas frittas (potatoes) are AMAZING! I'm actually normally a slightly fanatical raw foodie. Peru has knocked that out of me (temporarily), and the non Gmo whole foods have been interesting to explore. The potatoes at Casa Cartagena are the best I've ever had. Three dipping sauces and large pieces roasted with something to make them exquisite.. I'm talking like they are chocolate or something yet trust me these are better than good. Ok, the breakfast.. lots of fresh juice, gluten free breads, vegan options, high quality non vegan options, lots of fresh fruit, salad and a wide variety to cater for many dietary and taste requirements.
On the whole it's safe to say I'm attached enough to Casa Cartagena to basically not go anywhere else in Cusco. Nearby is my favourite vegan restaurant Green Point, with lots of raw food options all served with expertise to impress anyone visually and equally matched taste wise. Casa is also close to San Pedro markets where you can find crystals, herbs, all whole and fresh foods including super foods, and across the street is markets for home wear and anything you could think of basically. From Casa you can walk to the heart of the city within ten minutes and return to the Casa haven once you've explored the beautiful Cusco streets and offerings.
by Jayaprada Radhika