Understated Opulence

By Rona Berg / November 7, 2013

An intimate home away from home at Inkaterra La Casona, in Cusco, Peru.


Photograph courtesy of Inkaterra

Tucked behind a heavy unmarked wooden door on quiet Nazarenes Square in Cusco, lies a delightful surprise: Inkaterra La Casona, the first Relais & Chateaux hotel in Peru. The exquisitely restored 16th-century mansion offers a warm welcome to travelers now, as it did back then.

Eleven perfectly appointed suites surround an elegant courtyard, each featuring high ceilings, wood-burning fireplaces, tapestries hand-woven by local artists, plush carpets and deep tubs that beckon for a bubble bath. The exquisite creature comforts in the public rooms are drawn from the private collection of owner José Koechlin von Stein, renowned for his commitment to rainforest conservation and sustainability. Everything—from the cozy couches to the stone fireplace in the intimate lobby bar (the perfect spot for a delicious Pisco sour)—is understated but opulent.

The dining room—framed by stone archways and original low stone walls—showcases delicious local dishes, lovely Peruvian wines, and a sumptuous breakfast buffet. But what we kept coming back to were the Quinoa Pancakes, a signature of the breakfast service. “They are a perennial guest favorite,” says general manager Luisella Garmendia, “probably because they combine the comforting, satisfying taste of homemade pancakes with the wonderful health benefits of quinoa, the traditional Andean grain.”

It’s no wonder UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon declared this the International Year of Quinoa. “Quinoa has remarkable nutritional qualities, including a very high protein content, great amino acid balance and it’s high in vitamin E and important antioxidants,” Garmendia says.

For ultimate relaxation, La Casona offers a beautifully curated spa menu, and for a quick shot of culture, the perfect location as well: The hotel is two blocks from the main cathedral, down the street from the Museo de Arte Precolombino and the Inca Museum. With its impeccable service and fine-art decor, La Casona is the home-away-from-home that you never want to leave, with hi-speed wifi in every room.


Inkaterra La Cosona Quinoa Pancakes


Quinoa pancakes: Rona Berg


1 1⁄2 cups flour
2 eggs
5 tablespoons sugar
Pinch of salt
1⁄4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1⁄4 teaspoon Pisco or brandy
Approximately 1⁄2 cup milk
5 tablespoons previously cooked quinoa
1 1⁄2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons baking powder


Mix together the eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla extract, Pisco, milk and the melted butter.

Mix the flour and the baking powder separately and then add slowly to the wet mixture until it becomes soft. Add the previously cooked quinoa, and add milk if the mixture is too dry.

Ladle the batter into a non-stick frying pan to form individual pancakes, and cook until golden brown on both sides. Serve with sliced fruit and maple syrup, honey or sprinkled sugar. Provecho!

Rona Berg

Rona Berg

Editor-In-Chief at Organic Spa Magazine
Longtime journalist, author and current editor-in-chief of Organic Spa Media, Rona Berg is the former Editorial Director of ELLE and Deputy Style Editor for the New York Times Magazine, and she has contributed to and been quoted in dozens of publications. She co-chairs the Personal Care Committee of the non-profit Green Spa Network, is a Charter Advisory Board Member of the Nutritional Aesthetics Alliance, best-selling author of Beauty: The New Basics and Fast Beauty (Workman Publishing), and is a frequent speaker and guest on radio and television and at conferences around the globe.
Rona Berg

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