Family Hotel Review: Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa, Urubamba, Peru
If I could create the perfect hotel it would look something like Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa; this wonderfully whimsical hotel is a delight.
Best For: Acclimatising in the Sacred Valley; kids of all ages.
Why You’ll Love It
If I could create the perfect hotel it would look something like Sol y Luna Lodge & Spa. This bougainvillea-filled finca is worthy of its spot in El Valle Sagrado (‘The Sacred Valley’) and its membership with the prestigious Relais & Chateaux association serves as the ultimate stamp of approval.
Its verdant lawns and brightly coloured flowerbeds sit against a backdrop of Andean peaks and big blue skies. Whether or not intended, it is a fitting tribute to the beauty, culture and history of the Inca period and even the most spiritually skeptical will surely feel the magic here.
There are 43 individual casitas scattered throughout the 7.5 acre property and quirky sculptures of musicians and animals by acclaimed artist, Federico Bauer, decorate the main spaces. The hotel’s two restaurants are overseen by world-class, gourmet chefs. As such, the food is excellent. In fact, I decided this was the place to give the Peruvian staple, Cuy (guinea pig), a shot. When in Rome… Our charming waiter, Edgar, was right. It does take like crispy fried duck, just more bony perhaps.
The lodge’s prime location also serves as an excellent base for exploring the many Incan wonders of the Sacred Valley. My only regret was not having enough time to enjoy some of the hotel’s own activities, notably a ride on one of their beautiful Peruvian Paso horses – a unique breed (declared as a Cultural Heritage of the Nation) known for their smooth gait. On the flip side, it certainly gives me an excellent excuse to return.
Why The Kids Will Love It
At an altitude of 2,800m Sol y Luna makes for an ideal first stop on a Machu Picchu tour. Instead of starting our holiday in Cusco (3400m) – which is often the first port of call on the ‘classic itinerary’ – we headed directly to Sol y Luna, giving ourselves, and particularly the children, a chance to acclimatise first. (We finished our circuit in Cusco instead).
The bright colours of the property, artwork and gardens – hot pink and sky blue leading the way – will lift a child’s spirit in the same way it does to every guest here. Some psychologists claim that ‘bubblegum pink’ has a pacifying effect on children and I now think there may be something in this! Either that, or the Incan gods were working their magic. Sol y Luna has that special X factor.
One of the many highlights for my children was the little horse show that marks the beginning and end of lunch. The gleaming lawns outside Wayra (their ‘ranch’ restaurant) are temporarily transformed into a dressage ring. Four elegant horsemen in white ponchos and wide-brimmed sombreros enter the arena on their light-footed steeds to the beat of Marinera, one of Peru’s best known dances. At the end of lunch, guests are invited to try a lap themselves. My 8-year-old was quick to jump onboard. Children (and their parents) should be aware that these Peruvian Paso horses are not your usual riding school donkeys. They are fairly spirited and ultra sensitive to a riders’ command – no leg flapping advised!
Another highlight: the fried chocolate truffles. Order one plate with four spoons and brace yourself for a family feud.
Forty-three sunny yellow casitas are tucked away among the exotic trees, palms and cacti. Keep your binoculars to hand as these lush grounds are also home to dozens of colourful bird species. The casita interiors are just as bright and cheery as the exteriors and beautifully decorated with original murals and oversized sculptures by noted Peruvian artist Federico Bauer.
The casitas are divided into the following three categories:
- 12 Matrimonial casitas (60m2) with 1 King size bed (allows one extra bed)
- 11 Twin (60m2) with 2 double beds (does not allow extra bed)
- 5 Family (90m2) with 1 King size bed on ground floor and 2 twin beds on mezzanine
Facilities include: sit out porch, heater, hairdryer, bathrobes & slippers, WiFi.
- 5 Matrimonial casitas (109m2) with a king size bed
- 5 Twin deluxe (109m2) with 2 twin beds
Facilities include: porch, terrace, lounge area, chimney, dining area, sculptures & Peruvian art, satellite TV, mini bar, iPod dock, floor heating, hairdryer, bathrobes & slippers, toiletries, WiFi.
- 3 Matrimonial Premium with a King size bed
- 2 Twin Deluxe with 2 twin beds
Facilities include: porch, terrace with Jacuzzi, lounge room, chimney, dining area, sculptures & Peruvian art, satellite TV, mini bar, iPod & Bosse speakers system, floor heating, hair dryer, L’Occitane toiletries, bathroom & slippers, WiFi.
Best Rooms For Families:
We stayed in the Superior Family Casita during our visit and this was ideal for families travelling with two children. One extra bed can be added to almost every casita except for the Superior Twins. Families requiring more than two extra beds will have to book two casitas. Two pairs of inter-connecting casitas are available connecting one Matrimonial with one Twin.
Like everything at Sol y Luna, the food is creative and, as you’d expect absolutely delicious. There are two restaurants on the property the Killa Wasi (“the house of the moon”), which is the more formal dining space, and the Wayra (“the ranch”).
This is where you’ll find your buffet breakfast and the restaurant also serves lunch and dinner (both a la carte). It’s an elegant dining space brought to life by the colourful murals of Federico Bauer. The chef, Nacho Selis, is one of Peru’s most famous and under his guidance the restaurant produces a seasonal menu that is truly impressive.
The breakfast buffet is superb and includes your standard Continental options as well as Peruvian sandwiches (that are similar to a pork burger).
So called because of its location near the stables at the far end of the property, this restaurant is open for lunch and dinner and is considered the more casual dining option. In my mind, ‘casual’ equals hamburgers and sandwiches. Here, however, ‘casual’ includes dishes such as this one: trout carpaccio with a touch of airampo (a local cactus seed) served with cushuro (lake seaweed), avocado cream and tumbo gravy.
A buffet lunch is served daily here (although if there is low occupancy they will offer an a la carte menu instead). We enjoyed the trout cerviche, trout carpaccio, lomo saltado and pork belly chicharrones. We also tried the Peruvian staple cuy (guinea pig) while we were here.
I particularly liked the waiters’ uniforms; black aprons, bougainvillea-pink shirts and a matching pink ribbon around their sombrero – very dashing!
A short horse show (approx. 10 minutes) marks the beginning and end of lunch at Wayra – which my kids loved. It is occasionally performed before dinner as well.
In the evening Wayra’s candlelit bar becomes a cosy space to enjoy a pre-dinner pisco sour around the open fire.
There is no kids’ menu but our children usually shared one dish from the main menu, which included pasta and pizza options as well as chicken, fish, soups and stews.
The buffet breakfast is a child’s dream – homemade cookies, chocolate brownies, mini croissants, carrot cake, mini apple tarts, muffins, hot chocolate.
My son also loved the traditional muña tea that is served here, and everywhere else in Peru.
Breakfast 6am – 10 am
Lunch 12pm – 3pm
Dinner from 6pm
Activities for Parents
Sol y Luna is widely regarded as one of the best places in the region for horse-riding. Experienced riders will discover a new way of riding on the Peruvian Paso horse, while beginners (we are told!) will find their unique gait a comfortable and easy ride. Rides range from 3 to 8 hours.
Tandem paragliding. Get a condor’s perspective on the Andes and sour over the Sacred Valley with an expert pilot.
Visit remote spots and soak in the breathtaking (literally at times) scenery on an All Terrain Vehicle (ATV).
If you’re serious about hiking, the hotel offers 1 to 3 day treks to some of the most spectacular Inca sites in the valley.
Escape the kids for an hour and indulge yourself in Yacu Wasi, the in-house Spa. Lemongrass scent fills the air and dozens of candles line the floor-to-ceiling stain glass windows. Heaven!
Activities for Kids
Visit the many Incan ruins in the vicinity, including Chincheros, Pisac, Moray, the Salt fields of Maras and Ollaytantambo (all are within 20-45 minutes drive of Sol y Luna). Machu Picchu is also doable as a day trip from Urumbamba.
Don a kiddie sized sombrero and ride one of the hotel’s horses around the garden (complimentary five minute rides available every day at lunch time).
Explore the Sacred Valley on a mountain bike. Both half-day and full-day rides are offered which take guests off the tarmac. The ‘easy’ ride covers 20-kilometres of mostly flat terrain and is appropriate for beginners. Bikes, helmets, guides and snacks are provided.
Take a half-day pottery workshop with artisans who can explain the different stages of pottery-making
One activity I regret not doing with my family was kayaking in Lake Huaypo. The tour also involves walking and a picnic lunch. Next time!
For more recommendations see 10 things to do in The Sacred Valley with Kids
Babysitting (available on request), car seats in hotel transport (advance noticed required), heaters and floor heating, common rooms, cots, doctors & hospitals (good medical assistance 500metres from hotel), extra beds, highchairs, kids’ activities, swimming pool, laundry service, pushchair friendly, shops, spa, swimming pool, travel desk, wheelchair access (a wheelchair can also be provided with advance notice), WiFi, eco-friendly.
Environmental Measures & Social Responsibility: When Sol & Luna was established it began a long-term community project to provide education, art and sports for the youth of the Sacred Valley and founded an Association on the back of this project. Some of the Association’s key projects include an Intercultural school and a transitory home for children of remote communities. In the future they aim to establish a Hospitality Business School and a Cultural Centre of Urumbamba ‘a place to offer children and teenagers the chance to reinforce their skills in arts, sports, music and dances’.
Sol y Luna is also a member of Pack for a Purpose.
Rates vary according to room type, extra bed requests and date of travel. As a guide, room rates range from USD $293 to $496. Please contact the hotel directly for an exact quote based on your family’s requirements.
When to go:
Peak season for this region is May to October (the dry season or ‘winter’ in the Southern Hemisphere), with the greatest number of visitors in July and August. During this season the days are usually clear and sunny with chilly nights, especially at high altitudes. The Christmas and Easter holidays are also busy.
The rainy season (‘summer’) runs from November through March (January and February are usually the wettest months). This period sees dramatic price drops and less crowds but flooding and landslides are common.
Location & Travel:
Hotel Sol y Luna is located in Urubamba, a small town in the Sacred Valley. The secluded property is set back from the main road, and is reached via a dirt track.
The nearest airport is Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco. This mainly serves as a domestic airport and is well connected with Lima. The drive from the airport to Hotel Sol y Luna takes about 1 to 1.5 hours and makes for a very scenic drive.
The nearest train station is in Urubamba. A few trains connect with Machu Picchu from Urubamba but there are many more options from the train station in Ollantaytambo (approximately 20 minutes by car from Urubamba).
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