Hotel Monasterio is actually a former monastery built in 1595, although renovations have been completed since then. Today it is designated a national landmark protected by the National Institute of Culture (INC). It stands as an example of colonial Renaissance architecture while also featuring a stunning chapel and collection of colonial art.
The hotel also features the oldest tree in Cusco, a majestic cedar tree standing over 20m high, from over 300 years ago. It was originally nurtured and maintained by the monks of the original monetary. As a member of the cedrela angustifolia family, this wood is ideal for carving and you’ll see it in many pieces of colonial Spanish architecture around the city, such as pulpits and columns.
The hotel serves tea in the lobby nearly every hour of the day. They offer coca tea in the morning and afternoon. This tea is supposed to help with the symptoms of altitude sickness, and even if it does not work, it appears to have a nice placebo effect at a minimum. Since coca tea keeps you awake, they serve mint tea in the evening, which was my mom’s favorite.
Conveniently, this hotel is located just minutes away from the Plaza de Armas in the heart of Cusco. You don’t need to be staying at the hotel to enjoy either breakfast or lunch in the courtyard, or dinner in the main dining room. Although, if you do stay at the hotel, breakfast is typically included in the room price.
All meals are can be served with a gluten free assortment of bread featuring blue corn and a potato bread. The potato bread was my favorite.
The breakfast menu is the easiest to follow as they label which items contain gluten. The main options are eggs and quinoa pancakes which I didn’t try. There is also a buffet, which I didn’t eat off of due to a risk of cross contact with gluten, but it does feature many peeled fruits that you could try.
The lunch and dinner menus are a bit more confusing. While there is a gluten free logo, it’s only listed next to their meals that they modify to be gluten free, such as their gluten free pasta. However, after handing them my card explaining celiac disease and food allergies, they were always able to provide a gluten free meal it’s a minimal risk of cross contact. For both lunches I had steamed fish with vegetables. A good safe go to for any celiac, and a fruit plate for dessert.
The food was tasty, and the view for lunch is one not to be missed as it’s in the courtyard by the old cedar tree. Dinner was a bit fancier. In fact, three nights a week, you can attend dinner during a two hour long Peruvian opera, which eats quite the experience.
For dinner, I began each meal with a sautéed mushroom dish. I then had meat and veggies for each meal. On our first dinner, I works closely with the waiter to determine that I could safely eat both the polenta cake and sauce that came with the fish of the day (sea bass), which was probably my favorite meal. By my second dinner the restaurant remembered my dietary restrictions and was ready to feed me, which was nice as well.
For dessert I stuck to ice cream and fruit, although I did have chocolate covered in quinoa for one meal, which was quite tasty.
Overall, I ate pretty well here, which is nice. I did have to confirm my allergens and explain cross-contamination/contact with each new waiter/wait staff. (Don’t expect that they’ll understand celiac disease immediately, even with the gluten free labels on the menu.) However, they took me seriously once I expressed my needs, I was able to eat safely here without being “glutened.” I do recommend confirming that your meal is gluten free/allergen friendly when it’s delivered to the table as well.
Heading to Cusco soon? Don’t miss my reviews of my favorite spots in the city:
As always, happy Wanderlust Wednesday!