Lima, Peru

Photo: Avodrocc (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccordova/8693828441/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Avodrocc (http://www.flickr.com/photos/ccordova/8693828441/) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
What’s the hottest city in South America right now? You probably expect a Brazilian city—Rio, São Paulo, or Fortaleza—fresh off its World Cup success. Or maybe Buenos Aires, the perennial favorite. None of these are correct, though. It’s actually, surprisingly, Lima. The sprawling capital of Peru used to be a quick stopover en route to Machu Picchu and the Andes. But a boutique hotel, new restaurants, and a hot art scene have recently made Lima a destination in its own right.

You arrive in the Barranco District, an artsy neighborhood overlooking the Cliffs of Chorrillos, Playa Barranquito, and the Pacific Ocean. The Limeño aristocracy, who built grand mansions, once called this area home. They moved farther outside of the city in the 20th century. After the district deteriorated, artists, musicians, and designers moved in. It’s the popular place to be once again.

Your hotel, Hotel B, was one of those grand mansions. Actually, as a presidential seaside retreat in the 1920s, it was the grand mansion. The white, Belle Époque building overlooks tree-lined streets and the Bridge of Sighs, a stone walkway that descends down the cliffs. But don’t expect stuffy and historical inside. The hotel is full of art from nearby galleries. A sun deck on the roof has a view of the ocean. Your comfortable suite has black-and-white photographs, a claw-foot tub, and a plush couch.

Photo: Hotel B
Photo: Hotel B

Plus, homemade hot chocolate is served during tea time, which is called “el lonche.” And one of the city’s top chefs, Oscar Velarde, helms the restaurant’s kitchen. With dishes like charcoal-grilled octopus, avocado-and-anchovy crostinis, and pork loin medallions with escalivada coming out of the kitchen, you’ll be tempted to just stay and drink Pisco Sours.

But don’t. There’s too much to see in Barranco. The palm-lined Municipal Park has a Venus statue, known as “La Donaide,” that stands in the center surrounded by a fountain. The Neoclassical Holy Cross Church was built in the shape of a cross with a domed roof. Fishermen once prayed at the adobe Church of the Hermitage. The Descent of the Baths was once a creek that lead down to the sea. The ranch-style houses around it are now terraced cafés perfect for people watching and eating ceviche. Art lovers have their choice of MAC, the glass-walled contemporary art museum, or Museo Pedro de Osma with paintings dating back to the 16th century.

They’re in addition to the galleries—Lucía de la Puenta, WU, and Center Colich, to name a few—all within steps of Hotel B. So anytime you need a break, you can return to the hotel’s bar and order another Pisco Sour.

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