Enjoy your lunch or dinner at one of the many restaurants overlooking the Plaza de Armas. You’ll be treated to a spectacular view of La Catedral.

A year ago I had never even heard of Arequipa. Today, I just cannot stop raving about it.

We were never even supposed to go there. We were supposed to be roughing it on the Inca Trail in route to Machu Picchu, shopping with the locals and relaxing in the beautiful city of Cusco nestled deep in the Andes Mountains, then heading back to Lima for some quick sight-seeing before heading back to the States. But, alas, even the best-laid plans are not impervious to derailment. So, just a few weeks before our scheduled departure, we found ourselves delving back into the guidebooks, searching desperately for something to fill a nearly week-long gap in our itinerary.

After experiencing the unique culture and landscape of the Lake Titicaca town of Puno, learning to live like the locals on Isla Taquile, and marveling at the centuries-old traditions of the Uros people who live on floating islands, we decided to head back into an urban setting and Arequipa, located between Puno and Lima, seemed the perfect fit. After all, it was close to the spectacular Colca Canyon, which Justin desperately wanted to see, and the expansive Santa Catalina monastery, which sounded great to me.

This beautiful colonial-style city in Peru’s Canyon Country is known as the “White City” for its buildings made of sillar, a white volcanic stone (which, coincidentally, is in abundant supply thanks to the two volcanoes sitting just outside the town). Arequipa has grown into Peru’s second largest city, and its historical, colonial style downtown has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for it’s incredible architecture and historical significance. Pretty impressive for a city I had never heard of!

So when it came time to find a place to stay in Arequipa, I decided instead of going for the super-cheap, bare-bones, roof-over-your-head accommodations, this time I would look for a place with the 3 C’s: Character, Comfort, and Charm. (I usually only concern myself with one C — Cost!)

This search led me to La Casa de Melgar, located just a few blocks away from the Plaza de Armas and the Santa Catalina Monastery. After doing due diligence on my research, I was sold. This place had everything we were looking for!

1.) Character

When the hotel website equated a stay here with a stay at the Santa Catalina Monastery, I was irreversibly smitten. The style mirrors the 18th Century Spanish Colonial style of much of the town and is made of the famed sillar.
Walking through the halls, passing underneath archways and vaults, gives visitors the impression they are in a monastery or a Spanish villa.

2.) Comfort

The bedrooms made me feel as though I was sleeping in a castle — or a cave! — though they were very light and airy, with windows that open outwardly and if you’re lucky, you had a room with a skylight!

They also have a delicious breakfast each morning that’s included with your room. Eggs, toast, jams, fresh fruit, coffee, and fruit juices. Don’t sleep in too late! Allow some time to savor this meal.

3.) Charm

Quaint. Cozy. Adorable. This place is downright enchanting. It was once home to Arequipa’s Bishop Miguel Segundo Ballon at the end of the 19th Century. Although it has been renovated to function as a hotel, it still maintains the intimacy of a home — despite the fact that it has open courtyards and high vaulted ceilings!

How to make it happen

La Casa de Melgar is located four blocks northeast from the Plaza de Armas at Melgar 108 Cercado. Room rates start at just over 60 USD/night and go up to around 100. You can make your reservations online or give the hotel a call directly. The staff was very friendly and eager to accommodate not only our stay, but also to help us find our way around town! The hotel staffs the front desk overnight, so you can call them anytime from anywhere in the world to book your stay at this gem in the heart of Arequipa.

What’s the best hotel you’ve stayed at around the world?