The former historic capital of the Inca Empire, Cusco, is the most popular destination in Peru today. Besides being the capital archaeological capital of the Americas, Cusco is also the gateway to the legendary city that is Machu Picchu. As it’s also known, Cuzco boasts the richest heritage amongst any of the South American cities and is thus very popular with gay travelers. In fact, LGBTQ travelers come here for the sweeping landscapes and rich cultural heritage more than anything else. So, we found gay hotels in Cusco overflowing with travelers coming for the rich Incan heritage and a wonderful staff warmly welcoming us. What’s more, they range from luxurious hotels to boutique heritage ones, which is what makes staying in the city so special. The gay scene here isn’t as thriving as that we found in the capital Lima, but it does exist. And we explored it to the hilt.
Of course, we were mightily excited to see Cusco’s archaeological and historical treasures. Perhaps the biggest and best thing to see in Cusco is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Machu Picchu. We also visited the Sacred Valley, which is filled with Incan ruins and is one of Peru’s most beautiful places. During our stay, the city also celebrated Inti Raymi, the festival of the sun. In fact, it’s one of the annual world festivals worth the trip here. Clearly, Cusco was worth making the trip for more than just exploring its gay scene – and we can’t wait to tell you all about it.
Table of contents
- Palacio Del Inka
- Belmond Hotel Monasterio
- Sol y Luna – Relais & Chateaux
- Inkaterra La Casona
- Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa
- Union Hotel Cusco
- Costa del Sol Wyndham Cusco
- Casa Andina Private Cusco
- Tambo del Inka
- JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
- Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
- Our Verdict!
- Best Gay Neighborhoods in Cusco
- Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Cusco
- Best Gay Saunas in Cusco
- Best Gay Events/Shows/Tours in Cusco
Palacio Del Inka
Most luxurious. The ornate and intricately styled Palacio Del Inka is one of Peru’s heavyweight five-star hotels and one of the best gay hotels in Cusco. Since we wanted to splurge, it was a no-brainer as to where we’d be staying. Tucked in the city’s historic center, it’s only a short walk from its gay bars too, which boded well for us. In fact, we enjoyed stunning views of the old city from the upper floors. The rooms and suites are calming to boot, with hardwood furnishings and comfy beds. The classic touches, such as hand-painted floral motifs and a golden headboard around the bed, appealed immensely to us. We especially loved the eye-catching brass lamps on either side of the bed, while the tech-savvy amongst us liked the high-quality iPod dock alarm clocks. The marble bathrooms are swanky with fresh floral arrangements and huge mirrors, and our Deluxe Room even had a deep-soaking bathtub.
Considering that the city is short on space, this hotel overflows with amenities. We particularly appreciated the state-of-the-art hydrotherapy pool, steam and sauna, and massage therapy rooms. They were the perfect place to unwind after walking Cusco’s elevated boulevards. There’s even a hotel gym, which is rare in the city! Our days began with decadent breakfasts in the courtyard since the weather was nice. Think made-to-order eggs, fresh pastries, cheeses, cooked meats, porridge, and dried fruits. In fact, the restaurant serves delicious meals, with a resident sommelier who helped us pair wines with dishes.
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Belmond Hotel Monasterio
Most romantic. Romance is in the air at Belmond Hotel Monasterio, one of the most beautiful gay friendly hotels in Cusco. Set in the cobbled Plazoleta Nazarenas, the 1995-opened place is Cusco’s first deluxe hotel – and still breathtakingly beautiful.
Do you want to woo your partner the old-fashioned way? Do what we did and stay in one of the gorgeous 122 rooms and suites here. All of which boast interesting architectural details, exquisite artwork, and handsome wood furnishings. The cloud-like beds aside, even LCD TVs and marble bathrooms are standard. Furthermore, most bedrooms overlook the lush courtyard, although some of the more deluxe ones look out to the old city’s skyline. One of the most unique things we found at this hotel is oxygen-enriched rooms. Since staying in Cusco means getting acclimatized to the elevation, the hotel uses oxygen concentrators in some of their rooms, raising the ambient oxygen concentration from 21% to 24%. So, if you’re someone who struggles with acclimatization, you might want to look into this one.
Since this is a listed building, there’s no fitness center or pool. However, the hotel does offer in-room Thai massages and aromatherapy treatments, which we opted for. What’s more, there are ‘bath butlers’ for drawing baths too! We peeped into the Baroque-style chapel, which is very popular for weddings. When the hunger pangs came calling, the two restaurants that serve Peruvian and Mediterranean haute-cuisine satiated them like anything. Even breakfasts are lavish spreads, while the lobby bar is where we’d enjoy a pre-or post-dinner cocktail. We even indulged in romantic dinners at the candlelit tables in the courtyard, complete with opera singing on some nights.
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Sol y Luna – Relais & Chateaux
Best overall. We were looking to stay in the Sacred Valley and fell in love with the Sol y Luna – Relais & Chateaux. The gorgeous Relais & Chateaux resort is one of the overall best gay hotels in Cusco and is set amidst lush gardens in the heart of Peru’s Sacred Valley, around an hour north of Cusco.
Choosing from just 43 casitas made staying here as intimate as it felt exclusive for us, especially since we were surrounded by beautiful valley views. The rooms were spread across three main categories, but the best was the premium casitas, which is where we stayed. They had a reception, living quarters, huge bathrooms with bathtubs, walk-in showers, and open fires. But the cherry on top was the garden with an outdoor whirlpool and a private terrace. Since we were looking for a romantic sojourn in Cusco, we couldn’t find a better place to stay.
The staff is warm and friendly and doled out travel tips and advice for when we wanted to visit the attractions and sights around. We began our days with a hearty breakfast of fresh pastries, cereal, fruit, and great coffee at Wayra restaurant. The other one serves Peruvian dining, along with excellent cocktails. When we were done exploring, the large spa with its massages and body treatments awaited. Or, you could do what we did and head down to the outdoor pool, which is small but absolutely divine. The hotel even has its own stables and has an excellent posse of guides for riding, cycling, and hiking excursions to the nearby ruins.
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Inkaterra La Casona
Yet another Relais & Chateaux property made it to our list of best LGBTQ-friendly hotels in Cusco; this time, it’s the Inkaterra La Casona. It lies in a grand colonial mansion in the Incas’ imperial city, one of 16th-century Peru’s most exclusive addresses. We loved the location in a serene plaza within walking distance of Plaza de Armas, the city’s gay scene, as well as the top things to do in Cusco.
We had just 11 rooms to choose from, which included 2 plaza suites, 4 patio ones, and 5 balcony suites. Nevertheless, they all boast grand Spanish colonial-style plush beds and beautiful antiques and art. The balcony suite was perfect for romancing our partners, what with a marble bathroom with a freestanding bathtub for two and an open fire. There’s even a private dining space for two on the balcony.
The service is discreet, with a knowledgeable staff who booked trips and excursions for us around the area. There’s a library, a lounge, and a small but lovely spa-cum-massage room. We’d enjoy sundowners and nightcaps in the zaguán (the grand anteroom) and the lush courtyard after having drunk complimentary tea in the evenings. Later on, we’d dig into à la carte Peruvian fusion cuisine either in the courtyard or in the comfort of our room. The best bit? The grand buffet affair that was breakfast, with fresh coffee or coca tea, fresh fruit, cheeses, cured meats, and buttery pastries.
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Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa
Best boutique. The recently-restored Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa was the perfect base for us explorers in Cusco. When we arrived, we were greeted with sweet treats and a drink, and we knew then that we were going to love our stay here. For a small hotel, this one had every luxury amenity we could dream of. We especially loved the Qoya Sp, which utilized organic vegan products for its massages and treatments. Moreover, the large indoor hot tub and steam room proved to be a blessing after walking Cusco’s hilly streets. In fact, we were even able to enjoy the luxury of a prepared hot bath in the bathtub in our room, thanks to the hotel’s butler service.
“We wanted our stay in Cusco to be very special, and staying at this hotel proved to be the right choice. It was luxurious and intimate all at once!”WOW Travel
Rooms and suites at this elegant boutique hotel come with two-way oxygen enrichment systems that helped with acclimatization. We especially loved the vibrant Peruvian embroidered pillows set against the whitewashed walls. Mornings were reserved for in-room breakfasts on our private balcony, which overlooked the lush and well-landscaped courtyard.
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Union Hotel Cusco
Not all amazing hotels have to be huge and grandiose, as we found out at the Union Hotel (formerly Esplendor). The highlight of this relaxing and charming refuge is the stunning courtyard with ceramics, fountains, and tiny lawns. Plus, it lies just minutes from Plaza de Armas and its posse of gay bars. So, it was easy to simply explore the city by day and its gay scene by night.
One thing you need to remember is that the property has just 24 rooms, which means they sell out fast! Luckily, we’d booked in time, and we got the Superior Double room, which was not only spacious but also had a grand bed and a large granite bathroom with a bathtub for some romantic moments.
When it comes to amenities, the hot tub is the only ‘amenity’ here. But it’s an absolute bonus after a long day of walking and hiking. Plus, the views of the surrounding mountains and valleys only make it all the better. We loved the trendy vibe of the hotel, with white photos of Peruvian scenes, dark wood floors, and terracotta walls. The delightful courtyard is definitely the epicenter of the hotel, perfect for enjoying sun-kissed mornings with a cup of coffee. Our breakfast had everything from juices and cereals to scrambled eggs and fruit. Lunches and dinners are grander, and the hotel even has a complimentary tea and coffee station.
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Costa del Sol Wyndham Cusco
Set in a former monastery, Costa del Sol Wyndham Cusco is one of the grandest gay hotels in Cusco. Decorated with both Colonial and Incan art, this property is a delight for LGBTQ travelers who love history and architecture. Its location close to Plaza De Armas only makes it all the better for us, especially since it’s set in serene surroundings. Incan ceramics and Spanish colonial portraits greeted us at every turn. But it’s the two-story Shakespearean courtyard that was the calling card. Even the standard rooms featured iPod Dock alarm clocks, whitewashed walls, and Classic Andean trims of dark-stained wood. However, we wanted amazing views, which is why we went for the fourth-floor Colonial Suite, which boasted amazing views of Cusco’s skyline.
Even though it has no pool or fitness center, the hotel does well on amenities. We especially loved the reading nooks and all the books we could borrow and read. What’s more, there are even board games and a lovely chess set, so time at the hotel flew by. And even though there’s only one restaurant, it serves delicious Peruvian food for lunch and dinner. The breakfast might be an extensive buffet, but it’s the adjacent bar we also loved, which serves a mean pisco sour.
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Casa Andina Private Cusco
Casa Andina Premium is not just one of the best gay friendly hotels in Cusco, but it’s also one of the overall best hotels in Cusco, Peru. Set in a striking 16th-century mansion, this hotel exudes genuine Cusco calm while sitting within walking distance of Plaza de Armas. We got a wealth of amazing photographs for our Instagram feed, what with original 16th-century masonry and six decorative courtyards. Moreover, the original Spanish colonial portraits and authentic Inca Stone carvings only add to the charm.
The 93 standard rooms and suites have interesting light yellow walls with royal green or black trim. The first-floor rooms, which overlook one of the six courtyards, are especially spacious thanks to the high ceilings. We chose the suite, which came with a minibar, soundproof walls, and even a fireplace, which is its special feature. Mornings were reserved for sipping coffee on the balcony, which offered mesmerizing city views.
There might not be a pool or fitness center, but we didn’t feel their absence in the wake of amenities like the internet center, an alpaca clothing store, and a massage room. Our days began with an inclusive buffet breakfast of juices, cured meats, cheese, fruit, eggs, and bread. The best bit? Breakfast began at 5 am, which allowed us to eat to our heart’s content before our early morning Full-Day Tour of Machu Pichu. On other days, we ate lunches and dinners here, which mostly had Andean-inspired dishes. Don’t miss sipping on delicious Peruvian pisco cocktails and imported spirits and wines at the adjacent bar.
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Tambo del Inka
We were looking for a hotel outside Cusco, but still close enough to be easy to explore. That’s when we stumbled upon Tambo del Inka, one of the most lavish gay hotels in Cusco’s Sacred Valley. Nestled at the foothills of a mountain right beside the gushing Urubamba River, it lies about an hour north of Cusco. In fact, the ancient salt ponds of Maras and the ruins at Moray and Ollantaytambo are less than 15 mi (24 km) away.
All 128 rooms and suites are decked out in warm hues and have balconies with mountain or garden views. Moreover, they all have minibars, Wi-Fi, TVs, and marble bathrooms, complete with bathtubs, Gilchrist & Soames toiletries, and plush robes. So, no matter which room you choose, you’re in for a treat.
What’s better than a massage or a body treatment after a long day of walking, hiking, and exploring? That’s why the stylish spa, which offers quinoa, mud, and cocoa facials, is a blessing. However, the swimming pool with indoor and outdoor areas is the standout, especially since very few Cusco hotels have pools. We’d spend time here during sun-kissed days, followed by an afternoon of playing games in the games room. We really loved the refined Andean cuisine at the contemporary restaurant, which also serves a buffet breakfast with natural yogurt, croissants, smoothies, and gluten-free jams. Finally, the hotel even arranges day trips and music-themed tours to Sacred Valley towns.
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JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Best heritage hotel. Without a doubt, JW Marriott El Convento Cusco is one of the most luxurious gay friendly hotels in Cusco. Like other heritage hotels in town, this one lies in a former 16th-century convent and is chock-full of colonial, Incan, and pre-Incan artifacts. Hence, it feels more like a trendy museum than a modern hotel. What’s more, it also boasts what is one of Cusco’s handful of hotel pools, especially since it sits right next to Plaza De Armas.
The rooms are all stylish and sleek, with bespoke furnishings, dark hardwood flooring, and swanky mod-cons. The most coveted of them are the six double rooms with small balconies and terrace views. Since we are ardent history lovers, we chose Suite 82, which has an entire original Inca Wall! Nevertheless, bathrooms in all rooms feature sandy travertine marble and feature deep-soaking bathtubs. So, we enjoyed long romantic soaks with our partner.
As we said earlier, this LGBTQ-friendly Cusco hotel has a pool, sauna, and steam room exclusively for hotel guests. We were particularly impressed with the poolside shower, complete with music options, flashing lights, and nine jets of water. The basement level even has an Incan archeological site with a free guided tour every evening – so you know where you’d find us! After exploring the city after a long day, we’d head to the therapy rooms for reflexology and hot stone treatments, wraps, and massages. Finally, we’d wrap up the day with delicious Andean specialties and cocktails at the restaurant and bar.
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Belmond Palacio Nazarenas
Sitting atop the list of gay hotels in Cusco is the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas. Set in a restored 17th-century convent and palace, this elegant hotel has colonial and original Incan features and is even home to the excellent Museum of Pre-Colombian Art. Since this tranquil hotel lies a stone’s throw from Plaza De Armas and the gay scene, it was a natural choice for us.
The rooms and suites here lie around seven cloistered courtyards and tastefully blend original features like colonial frescoes and Inca walls with elegant and stylish fittings. Moreover, they’re all enriched with oxygen, which allowed us to be comfortable while getting acclimatized to Cusco’s altitude. Besides large bathrooms with freestanding bathtubs, the rooms even have tea/coffee-making facilities. Our personal favorites were the Pisco sour-making stations and the 24-hour butler service!
However, it was the outdoors of this hotel that was absolutely breathtaking. Water channels meandered through a series of patios and terraces that were full of kitchen herbs and indigenous flowers. What’s more, this is Cusco’s only hotel with an outdoor swimming pool that’s also heated. So we could enjoy a refreshing swim after a long day. The library is perfect for us bibliophiles, while we saw others in the lounge with a huge flatscreen TV and snooker table. The star amenity is the Hypnôze Spa, the world’s only fully oxygenated spa, complete with a hot tub. Wrapping up the features is the poolside restaurant in the lush courtyard, which serves Peruvian fare with a twist, including breakfast, snacks, and drinks.
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Each and every LGBTQ-friendly hotel in Cusco is special, given that most of them blend Peruvian heritage with modern amenities. That said, there are some hotels that are specifically better than others in specific features, which are listed below:
- Most luxurious: Palacio Del Inka
- Most romantic: Belmond Hotel Monasterio
- Best overall: Sol Y Luna – Relais & Chateaux
- Best boutique: Casa Cartagena Boutique Hotel & Spa
- Best heritage hotel: JW Marriott El Convento Cusco
Best Gay Neighborhoods in Cusco
As a city, Cusco is very safe for LGBTQ travelers, mostly because it sees hoards of international tourists visiting from all over. Since tourism drives the economy, everyone is welcome here, gay or otherwise. On a local level, however, Cusco is still a conservative city in an equally conservative country. Since the Catholic Church drives religion, there’s a mixed, if sometimes negative, attitude toward the LGBTQ community. However, the scene is changing, with Pride events increasing every year and anti-discrimination laws taking effect to protect the LGBTQ community. Nevertheless, we’d advise everyone to avoid public displays of affection in this small city unless one is in a gay-friendly space, such as the bars mentioned below.
We saw rainbow flags flying everywhere in Cusco – but don’t let that get you too excited. When you look closely, it has an additional blue line and is the flag of the Incan empire. That said, Cusco does not have a gay neighborhood, per se. However, most of the gay bars lie around Plaza De Armas, the old historical center of the city. It’s where we found most of the city’s architectural sights, including the Incan Museum and the ornate Church of the Company of Jesus with gilded interiors.
Best Gay Bars / Clubs in Cusco
Fallen Angel was perhaps the most popular and oldest gay bar in Peru, but it shut in early 2020. Nevertheless, the below-mentioned establishments have continued to uphold the gay friendliness of the city.
- Mama Africa: For a big night out with music, dancing, and drinks, Mama Africa is your best bet for a big night out. The club belts out the latest Latin pop hits as a gorgeous mixed crowd shakes and shimmies to their heart’s content. It’s so popular that it’s open every day until six in the morning!
- Paradise Queen: Have an intensely authentic and fun gay night out at Paradise Queen, a gay-friendly disco in Cusco. The club is famous for its Ibiza nights, which see drag shows, live DJs, and lots of hot topless local guys. They even have special themed parties during important holidays such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day, including a “Stripper Show” during Pride.
Best Gay Saunas in Cusco
Unfortunately, there is no out-and-about gay sauna in Cusco, and if there is any, then they’re on the down low. However, we’re hoping to see that change in this gay-friendly city!
Best Gay Events/Shows/Tours in Cusco
- Marcha del Orgullo Cusco: This is Cusco’s gay Pride event that takes place at the end of June and beginning of July every year. Having begun only in 2015, it’s only gone from strength to strength each year. It might not be as huge as Pride celebrations in Sao Paolo or even the capital Lima, but it’s a celebration nonetheless.
- Cuzco Underground Cinema Festival: This is another highlight for Peruvian gays, the queer-friendly CUCIF. This independent film festival takes place every October and features a jury awarding prizes for different categories. Two of them are “Best Shot LGBTQ” and “Best Feature LGBTQ.”