This Hotel Is A Gourmet Go-To For Machu Picchu Travelers

If first-rate food is imperative on your visit to South America's greatest attraction, you should set your sights on Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel, long touted as gourmet ground zero for Machu Picchu travelers.

The five-star, 63-room hotel placed among Conde Nast Traveler's Top 10 hotels in South America and is numero uno for Aguas Calientes (or Machu Picchu Pueblo), the main neighboring base for visitors to the ancient marvel. Why so? Perhaps it's the allure of the newly renovated main lounge and bar, infusing sumptuous purple, orange, gray, and gold accents in the traditional-meets-swank space, all watched over by gilded Incan masks pedestaled on a wall display. It's also most certainly because of the hotel's long-standing culinary prowess, with contemporary Peruvian-fusion dishes that go toe-to-toe with Peru's best restaurants.

Click here for a list of the 101 best restaurants in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Come hungry, and if you begin to worry about overindulging on Sumaq's fabulous meals and culinary activities, remember that there's a certain sprawled archaeological area some 8,000 feet high nearby where you can hike it all off. 

Though you can splurge on the ultra-luxe Hiram Bingham Train ride from Cusco to Aguas Calientes, PeruRail's upmarket Vistadome train will get you there along the same Urubamba River-cradling route at a far better value. Though the Vistadome ride doesn't come with an elaborate meal like the Hiram, it won't matter because you'll want to save room for every fabulous meal and culinary activity at Sumaq. Plus, you'll be so busy swiveling your neck around the glass-domed carriage — witnessing the Andes Mountains dramatically transition from barren to verdant jungle territory — to worry about eating.

The must-try dish? Ceviche of trout with Andean flavors at Sumaq's flagship Qunuq Restaurant. The plate of fresh, sliced trout pried from Lake Titicaca — the world's highest lake — with soft chunks of sweet potato, corn, onions, and piquillo peppers all enlivened with lime juice has to be among the best ceviche in Peru. It's Michelin-star quality (should the town of Aguas Calientes ever become included the guide), and all other ceviche would have to be otherworldly to surpass Chef Carlos Figueroa's version.

In addition to eating, guests can learn the tasty secrets of authentic Pisco sours and ceviche at Sumaq's 40-minute Peruvian cooking and bar class, a service generously included in the room rate. Book the hotel's Pachamanca ("Earth Pot") activity for an even more immersive and one-of-a-kind experience; it involves the ancient Incan cooking technique of wrapping meats, vegetables, and fava beans in leaves and baking them underground for hours with hot stones. You'll witness the tail-end of this authentic ritual outdoors, and toast the gut-busting occasion with regional fermented corn beverages like the chica de jora or strawberry-infused fruitillada.

If you want to see Machu Picchu (and who doesn't?), you can either schlep yourself to the world wonder solo or arrange one of Sumaq's own native shamans to take care of you. The latter is highly recommended as they'll provide invaluable insight to one of the world's most outstanding archaeological sites and lead you to the best vista points to get those imperative Instagram shots. Sumaq's tour fleet ranges from the three-hour "Machu Picchu Citadel" jaunt to the new "Mystical Machu Picchu Tour," which includes soul-stirring rituals and points of spiritual interest on an intensive eight-hour trek.