Accommodation options in Peru range from rustic homestays to luxury lodges and everything in between. Prices also vary greatly, but you’ll soon learn to match both your budget and your style of travel to the ideal type of lodging -- with occasional splurges, of course.
Hostels in Peru
Peruvian hostels target the international backpacker market, making them good places to meet other travelers. The best hostels are well equipped for their foreign guests, with spacious lounge areas, internet access, tour options and multilingual staff.
Because of these added extras, however, hostels are not necessarily the cheapest deal in town. A bunk bed in a crowded dorm may seem like the ultimate in budget accommodation, but you’ll find similar prices in Peru’s cheaper hotels and guesthouses. If you want a social atmosphere, hostels are hard to beat -- but if you want privacy, security, cable TV and your own shower, don’t rule out the other options.
Guesthouses, known variously as alojamientos, hospedajes or albergues, sit somewhere between hostels and hotels. They rarely have packed dorm rooms, relying instead on a selection of one- to four-bed rooms, each with its own characteristics.
Guesthouses tend to be family-run, giving them a relaxed and homely feel. Service is informal, with standards varying greatly depending upon the whims of the owner. If you’re not a fan of cramped hostels or impersonal hotels, Peruvian guesthouses provide a reasonably cheap and cheerful alternative.
Budget Hotels in Peru
Some of Peru's budget hotels are nothing more than one-star, pay-per-hour love nests with wafer-thin walls. At the lower end of the spectrum, you can expect poor service, rundown rooms and a general lack of personality. Security is also an issue, especially if you end up in a ramshackle hotel in a dubious neighborhood. Some one- and two-star budget hotels, however, turn out to be hidden gems, so don’t discount them completely -- just look at your room before accepting it.
Midrange Hotels in Peru
Peru’s three-star hotels are a mixed bag. Many midrange hotels are characterless establishments designed with Peruvian businessmen in mind, rather than international tourists. Others target the tourist market, providing English-speaking receptionists, tours and plenty of local information.
Midrange hotels normally have cable TV, hot showers, a fan or air conditioning and, increasingly, Wi-Fi connections. Better three-star options may also have airport or bus terminal transfers, a good breakfast included in the price and, if you're lucky, a decent swimming pool.
Top-End Hotels in Peru
With the development of top-end hotel chains such as Inkaterra and Casa Andina, tourists now have a far wider range of luxury accommodation options in Peru. This is especially true in tourist hotspots such as Lima, Cusco, Lake Titicaca and Arequipa.
These top-end options don’t come cheap (US$100 and up), but features such as spas, gyms, award-wining restaurants and impeccable service certainly soften the financial blow. History buffs also have the chance to stay in some of Peru's oldest buildings, best exemplified by Cusco's historic hotels with their Inca foundations and colonial walls.
Peruvian Jungle Lodges
Peru has been a late bloomer in terms of international standard accommodation, but an increasing number of luxury lodges have sprung up to cater for honeymooners and high-rolling wildlife spotters.
Jungle lodges are a Peruvian specialty, but they are well above the budget of most shoestring backpackers. If you can stretch your finances, however, you won’t find a more comfortable way to immerse yourself in the sight and sounds of the vast Amazon region. Jungle lodge hotspots include Iquitos, Madre de Dios and the Tambopata and Manu rainforest regions of Peru.
Peruvian Eco Lodges
The jungle isn’t the only place to relax in a luxury lodge. Eco lodges are appearing in some of Peru’s most spectacular locations, such as the solar-powered Casa Andina Isla Suasi lodge, located on an island in Lake Titicaca, and Las Casitas del Colca at Colca Canyon.
Homestays are an excellent way to experience genuine Peruvian culture. It’s not a particularly common accommodation option in Peru, but there are agencies that can help you organize a stay with a Peruvian family.
The standard of accommodation can be quite low, especially if you are staying in a rural area, so be prepared for a change of lifestyle. Many homestays cater primarily for students on long-term study abroad programs, but tourists can also arrange shorter stays. Cusco and Lake Titicaca are both popular homestay destinations.
Camping in Peru
Campsites are almost nonexistent in Peru. Unless you’re planning multiday hikes or other such expeditions, you’ll have little use for a tent. Of course, there’s always the option of asking a local if you can set up camp in his or her backyard (or a nearby field).
Safety will be in issue if you decide to camp in random locations, so always take care and be sure that you’re not setting yourself up as an easy target for opportunistic thieves. Before pitching your tent, consider your immediate environment -- natural hazards such as floods and landslides are common in Peru.