Justifying the Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu (pics!)

Question: How much did you pay for your housing for the month of May?

I paid $890 US. Two nights at $15 each. One night at $860. The other 28 nights: no cost (thanks, Fiona!)

While $860 for one night may sound absolutely loco-bananas, $890 for the entire month isn’t bad. This is how I justify the Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu.

Sanctuary Lodge This small, 31-room hotel is located at the entrance to Machu Picchu (exactly 79 steps by my count.) Most visitors stay in Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu, and take a 30-minute bus ride to the entrance. For perspective, you can see the dirt road that zig-zags from A.C. to the entrance of M.P. here:

zigzag

Nervous about my decision A Canadian couple on my tour in Cusco had been raving about Inkaterra Hotel in Aguas Calientes while simultaneously disparaging The Sanctuary Lodge as being small and “rustic,” all while useless Eduardo stood by, nodding in agreement. The night before MP, I went back to my Christo Blanco hostel and read a few 1 and 2-star reviews (like this one) about Sanctuary Lodge, which claims the rooms are too small and “equivalent to a Holiday Inn Express”. Frankly, I think this person’s expectations were too high. The rooms are nice/fine, but what you’re paying for is location (and service. I must compliment the Sanctuary Lodge’s excellent service.) For me, staying there for more than one night like this reviewer did would have been extravagant.

Overall: Worth it for one night. For $860 I got:

• 3 meals – most anything from the menu, including wine. These were served in the dining room pictured below.

• 1 buffet lunch (This was the one where the reviewer above complained of  “the pack of tourists/hikers having the daily lunch buffet”.) This was in a different dining room that connects to the outside toward the entrance to MP.

• free bottled water Don’t think I didn’t take a few with me for my trip back to Cusco/Lima!

• free laundry Washed, dried and folded for me in about 2 hours. *Note: laundry was also free at EcoPackers, the 2nd hostel I stayed in Cusco, so maybe free laundry’s not that big a deal.

• excellent service! Right after I ordered dinner, the hostess came by with a couple books to choose from and borrow while I waited. Service-wise, I can tell that management gives its staff permission to be flexible and accommodating, rather than black-and-white/by-the-book.

• hospitality suite Even after I’d checked out of the lodge and gone hiking one more time, they had an extra room (identical to my room) where I could come back and take a shower before my afternoon bus ride down to the train station. (They also kept my bags locked up while I was hiking.) Very convenient.

• unbeatable convenience The standard Machu Picchu ticket (S/128 = $48 USD) is good for all-day unlimited entry. It was nice to have my room less than 10 minutes away, rather than a winding, half-hour bus ride back to Aguas Calientes. Especially on the 2nd day when 6:30am proved too foggy to see anything. I was able to pop back in to Sanctuary Lodge and eat breakfast and give MP another go after the fog had cleared.

Hopefully these pics help with the shortage of info I found about the Sanctuary Lodge:

My room #32, looking out to my patio / the courtyard.

My room #32, looking out to my patio / the courtyard.

Looking in to my room, #32 from my patio. (My back is to MP.)

Looking in to my room, #32 from my patio. (My back is to MP.)

This is nicer than a Holiday Inn Express! (right?)

This is nicer than a Holiday Inn Express! (right?)

Basic bathroom vanity (with complimentary bottled water.)

Basic bathroom vanity (with complimentary bottled water and more in the mini fridge.)

From my room, looking out into the courtyard, Wayna Picchu almost visible.

From my room, looking out into the courtyard, Wayna Picchu almost visible.

FOOD. The food was consistently okay – not bad, but could have been better. (I did enjoy the alpaca.) The breakfast items were around the quality of IHOP (which is fine; I don’t dislike IHOP.) My 2 breakfast companions let me photograph their breakfasts as well; that’s how I got pics of 3 dishes:

Dining room for guests only.

Dining room for guests only.

Dining room for guests. (You can hear the buses outside from here.)

Dining room for guests. (You can hear the buses outside from here.)

Lunch from the menu: fresh bread, quinoa chicken soup, ceviche, rosé syrah.

Lunch from the menu: fresh bread, quinoa chicken soup, ceviche, rosé syrah.

I watched this fly circle closer and closer until he was finally overpowered by the rosé syrah.

I watched this fly circle closer and closer until he was finally overpowered by the rosé syrah.

fresh bread, Peruvian “Causas” and grilled alpaca loin.

fresh bread, Peruvian “Causas” and grilled alpaca loin.

Dinner menu (in case you're curious)

Dinner menu (in case you’re curious)

Dessert menu I was too full to order from.

Dessert menu I was too full to order from.

Buffett breakfast for guests only.

Buffet breakfast for guests only.

Three dishes from the breakfast menu, all included.

Three dishes from the breakfast menu, all included.

Front view of the Sanctuary Lodge. (Right where the buses pull in from Aguas Calientes.)

Front view of the Sanctuary Lodge. (Right where the buses pull in from Aguas Calientes.)

View from the entrance to Machu Picchu.

View from the entrance to Machu Picchu.

View of Machu Picchu entrance from the courtyard.

View of Machu Picchu entrance from the courtyard.

View of Wayna Picchu from the courtyard. (My hotel room is at my 8 o'clock – behind me to my left.)

View of Wayna Picchu from the courtyard. (My hotel room is at my 8 o’clock – behind me to my left.)

Can you remember the last thing you spent money on, where your friends (if they knew) would balk, “What?! You spent x dollars on that?” and then before you could answer, their heads would just explode into flames of bafflement?

One thought on “Justifying the Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Picchu (pics!)

  1. DEFINITELY better than Holiday Inn Ex.(At least the Stockton, CA location) and the scenery is better. You should try Stockton sometime, for the fringe experience.

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