Hotel Reviews Peru

Hotel Review: El Albergue (Ollantaytambo, Peru)

El Albergue Ollantaytambo

When planning my trip to Peru, I always knew that I wanted to stay somewhere in the Sacred Valley. This was due to the fact that it’s strongly recommended to adapt to the high altitude since some places there are lower than the popular destination of Cusco (whose altitude is over 11,000 feet). Although I came across a slew of great sounding hotels, ones with absolutely gorgeous grounds, they were in more rural areas (well, all of the Sacred Valley is rural in a sense but I’ll explain more on this in just a bit). I knew that of the three nights I was going to allocate for the Sacred Valley, one of those days I planned to visit Machu Picchu. As I had no plans on hiking the Inca Trail, the only way that would get me to the most famous Inca ruins would be via rail. There are two places in the Sacred Valley where you can get the train to Machu Picchu-Poroy, which is a small town near Cusco, and Ollantaytambo. I opted for the latter.

El Albergue Ollantaytambo

There aren’t a huge number of accommodation options in Ollantaytambo, but considering the town itself is home to only 2,000 residents I think you still have a decent selection. The one lodging that always had interested me was El Albergue. When I say it’s literally at the train station, I mean it. El Albergue was built in the 1920s since up until that time, there hadn’t been any lodging for those travelers taking the train. Fast forward some 90 years later and El Albergue is still fulfilling that role.

Location

As I mentioned above, El Albergue is located literally at the train station, which means it’s about a 12 minute walk from the town square (the Plaza de Armas). If you are coming in or leaving the station you will need to exit the train area as vehicles are only able to drive up to the gates for the station entrance. The area is flat though, with no stairs or hills to climb. On the day we went to Machu Picchu, we caught the 5:07 AM train although our tickets advised us to be at the station by 4:40 AM. Since we were staying right there, we didn’t have to leave our room until 4:35, whereas had we been coming from anywhere else, we would have needed to hire a taxi. Alternatively, since our visit coincided with Peru’s winter (it is south of the equator), it was completely dark by 6 PM. Two of the three nights we dined at the hotel’s restaurant but on our second night we wanted something else. Being a small rural town, lighting on the streets was nonexistent. We wandered a short distance but didn’t feel comfortable making the full trek into the Plaza de Armas area since the road was dark and we found the streets to be deserted. When you’re in a foreign country and you stand out already, this can be a tad unnerving. We probably would have been fine but just decided to err on the side of caution. I would recommend trying some of Ollantaytambo’s restaurants for lunch when there is natural light.

El Albergue Ollantaytambo

The stunning view from our balcony.

The room

When you stay two nights, prices are 10% off and when you stay three or more nights, prices are 15% off. By staying three nights there, our superior room came out to only $125 a night which was really quite the bargain (normally rates can range anywhere from $150 to $180 a night). Superior rooms are on the second floor while standard rooms can be found on the ground floor. Our room had a queen bed as well as a twin bed which I dubbed the day bed. There was no tv (this was perfectly fine) although there was WIFI access (somewhat slow but hey, you were in the Andes). The bathroom was spacious although my only complaint is that they could have provided a larger wastebasket since you are asked to not flush toilet paper (unfortunately, small wastebaskets were a theme at all of the hotels we stayed at). Being in the country, I noticed some bugs (all in the bathroom), but thankfully they were small, nothing large and creepy. I can’t stress this enough-if you travel to the Sacred Valley during its winter, bring lots of warm clothing. While the weather and temperatures are pleasant during the day (anywhere from the 60s-70s F), once the sun goes down, it is cold, very very cold. I brought fleece bed pants for both D and myself as they were very much needed and two of the nights I actually went to bed in a sweater on top of a t shirt because I was so cold. A space heater was provided but as the room was large with vaulted ceilings, it warmed only the corner where it was plugged in. Two bottles of water were restocked each day with our room’s cleaning.

El Albergue Ollantaytambo El Albergue 6

 The grounds

This was probably one of my favorite parts about El Albergue. The hotel is nestled amongst beautiful gardens which I loved walking through and taking photographs of. Also, the view from the balcony outside of our room just could not be beat. Anytime you can look at snow capped mountains, well it’s a truly fantastic sight indeed. The stunning grounds definitely are a terrific reminder of why a stay in the countryside is definitely needed once in a while.

 El Albergue Ollantaytambo El Albergue Ollantaytambo El Albergue Ollantaytambo El Albergue Ollantaytambo

Food

Thankfully on the grounds of the hotel there is a lovely small restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast is only open to hotel guests as it is complimentary. You get to choose your entree along with two sides (while it seems like a lot of food, portions were small, which was good). You also have access to fresh fruit and granola along with juices, coffee, and tea selections. Lunch and dinner are open to non-hotel guests as well, but as the dining area space is small, reservations are recommended. I’ll be blogging about our two dinners in a separate post.

By the train platform area, the hotel also operates a small cafe (no seating, just pickup) serving a variety of hot drinks and other beverages. While I would have liked to try a hot drink, I took the recommendation of avoiding caffeine while acclimatizing to the high altitudes to heart. I saw others indulging however, so who knows.

El Albergue Ollantaytambo

A traditional Peruvian dish-tacu tacu

El Albergue 12

Everything else

As they promote eco-friendly practices, plastic bottles of water are not sold on the hotel grounds. Instead, for one sole, the Peruvian currency, you can refill your one liter water bottle from the jug that is located in the reception area. We took advantage of this numerous times.

The hotel staff can arrange transfers and tours for you. I had them arrange our transfers between the Cusco airport and the hotel as well as back to Cusco. It cost $50 USD for a sedan transfer, and $65 USD for a van (if you have more than 2 or 3 people).

Noise-you are literally at the train station, so yes, you will hear the trains. Between arriving and departing, there are many of them. So if you’re looking for quiet nap time at 2 PM, well, you’re not going to have it. The first night I had difficulty falling asleep between being cold, hearing the late trains come in, and some local dogs fighting. But by the second and third nights, the outside noises didn’t bother me. Ear plugs are probably not a bad idea if you’re a light sleeper.

El Albergue Ollantaytambo

Conclusion

Sure, there are fancier hotels in the Sacred Valley. But when it comes to a unique ambiance and an absolutely terrific location, El Albergue can’t be beat, especially considering its friendly rates. Staying at El Albergue was a great way to start our Peruvian adventure!

El Albergue Ollantaytambo

El Albergue-Peru

Ollantaytambo train station between Cusco & Machu Picchu

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11 Comments

  • Reply
    Angela Travels
    September 11, 2014 at 5:27 pm

    Looks like you had a great trip. We ended up staying in a hostel when we were there and walked all over 🙂
    Angela Travels recently posted…Why Being A Female in the Outdoors Sucks…SometimesMy Profile

    • Reply
      Julie
      September 12, 2014 at 9:47 pm

      It was truly the trip of a lifetime! Everything went great and according to plan which is a plus on any trip but especially a major international one I feel! It was definitely a pleasant town to walk about in!

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    October 8, 2014 at 10:56 am

    […] reading numerous recommendations, I decided to “officially” start our Peru trip in Ollantaytambo as opposed to in Cusco since the altitude in Ollantaytambo is 2,000 feet lower than Cusco’s. […]

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    January 5, 2015 at 7:49 pm

    […] El Albergue was more of a bed and breakfast style hotel and it was simply lovely. You can read my full review of it here, but it offered a great price, especially since I opted for the more deluxe rooms, and its location right next to the station where we caught the train to Machu Picchu couldn’t be beat. […]

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  • Reply
    Ann
    June 5, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    Hey Red
    I am planning on staying at the Albergue in July. i have booked two rooms. One is a superior garden room, which I have been told will sleep our family of 3 adults & a 14 year old. I have another room booked on a following night. It a double or superior (I forget the wording) balcony room. i think they are room 9 & 15.

    i am running into some confusion with the place though, which is a shame.

    I bookex kinda crazy, once with Booking.com & then with Trip Advisor.

    A hotel rep has sent a message acknowledging the first room, but nothing on the second. Really strange.

    I also got a message on booking.com stating noone under 18 allowed. I have inquired multiple times about this.

    Your article is lovely and it sounds like you had a good stay. Should I be worried? Is the place on the up & up?

    I can take my correspondence showing that I was told we could have the additional person for $20.

    I just don’t know what has happened to the other room. Very strange.

    • Reply
      Julie
      June 5, 2016 at 10:28 pm

      Hi Ann,

      Thanks for commenting although I’m sorry to hear about the troubles you’ve been having in regards to your reservations. I don’t believe El Albergue had any stipulation back in 2014 about it being “adults only” and even if that had changed, I’d think that would be clearly stated on their website since they receive so many international visitors and more and more parents are taking their kids to Peru.

      We had a wonderful stay there and honestly, it was a great introduction to being thrown into all that is Peru 🙂 (I mean that in a good way though). The staff was nothing but terrific and just the accommodations and services were top notch so I’m quite disappointed to hear about your experience. Does anyone in your group speak Spanish? If you do, I’d recommend trying that approach when you email them directly at their email address (reservas@elalbergue.com). Sometimes that does get you a different result…But all emails I had sent them prior to our stay (and I sent quite a few) were always promptly answered.

      Buena suerte and hope things improve. But overall, enjoy your trip!

      • Reply
        Ann Aleixo
        June 16, 2016 at 9:05 pm

        Me again! I ended up speaking with Julia at Albergue and she suggested I cancel my Booking.com and Tripadvisor reservations in order for her to book me directly and get a 10% discount, which she has applied.

        The only thing I am uncertain about is that we will be in room 9 for 2 consecutive nights instead of switching to #15 for a night.

        Kinda kicking myself as it seems 15 was a better room, which I had gotten at the same rate as 9 on Tripadvisor.

        My bad. Usually when I mess around with things too much I just make things worse.

        Kinda wishing I had kept room #15. The pressure is on, since I know my family will be judging the places I picked!!

        Now my latest question. We have the two nights at Albergue all squared away and I asked the hotel rep to look out for another room for me for the night after we climb MP.

        She has not notified me, but I have found room 14 is available.

        Now wondering if I should just stick with 2 rooms Olly, 2 rooms AC and leave it or if I should jump on this room back at Olly? We will have to travel back to Olly anyway.

        Your thoughts? I like the fact that we have the night prior to our climb in AC, just for convenience sake. But I have been told we should just take the train back on the evening after our climb and have dinner back in Olly and stay the night.

        Thanks for any opinion. Hope I am not too wordy!

        • Reply
          Julie
          June 17, 2016 at 10:24 am

          Hi Ann!

          I’m glad that some of the booking issues were resolved! I’m sure the room will be just as lovely. For me, the best part about the hotel wasn’t necessarily the rooms themselves but just the overall ambiance and of course the incredible Andes Mountain views.

          Yeah, I’m the same way-I’ll procrastinate with stuff and then get sad when stuff I wanted to do is all booked!

          Personally, on my trip to Peru I ended up staying in four different hotels for just over a week. This was exhausting and the most hotels I’ve ever stayed at on one trip. So I couldn’t imagine having added a fifth hotel in that time. There’s definitely a benefit to “already being there” (in A.C.) on the day you’re to visit Machu Picchu. We ended up taking the first train from Ollanta to A.C. on the day we visited and that definitely helped in terms of arriving at the parks before the mobs of people (although anymore, anytime, it will still be quite crowded). But truly it all comes down to personal preference. There’s definitely more restaurants/eating options in A.C. and I think would be a bit more alive “at night” than Ollanta and yet for me, I was so exhausted after our day at M.P. I was happy to come back and just “be done” (I do say that in a good way). However, it’s Peru and it’s incredible so I don’t think there is any bad decision 🙂 Good luck deciding!

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