By Maureen Santucci
While I admit that I usually have a pretty easy time making myself comfortable anywhere, it would be hard not to feel at home at Villa Elisa in Arequipa. My first visit here will definitely not be my last, and I found myself wishing that I had a week to spend just writing and gazing out at the hummingbirds flitting through the gardens.
The boutique hotel was built adjoining a house that was constructed by a German family in 1947. The downstairs of the home is where you will be welcomed by the friendly staff that seem to genuinely want to help you in any way they can. It is also where you will be served a welcome cocktail, enjoy your delicious breakfast, and have dinner if you choose to dine in.
In 2007, the current owner, Jean-Louis Gelot, and his Arequipeña wife, Rosa Elisa, purchased the house and began building your home away from home, the Villa Elisa. It was an undertaking that was clearly a labor of love, as demonstrated in the great care taken with the decoration of the rooms, as well as the maintenance of the lovely gardens. In fact, you are quite likely to see Jean-Louis out there, tending to the plants and the fountain in the center, ensuring that you and the ever-present birds could not be more content.
It’s a true oasis in the middle of the city– although located just seven blocks or so from the Plaza de Armas, you could easily be in the countryside with how quiet the grounds are. Just a faint hum of traffic can be heard from within the main house, and nothing from the rooms. Not even half a block away sits the Parque Selva Alegre, a gorgeous place for an afternoon promenade.
Of course, a pretty garden and tropical fruits at breakfast are nice, but they are nothing if you can’t get a good night’s sleep. After all, that’s why you’re here! Rest assured, and rest tranquil, the beds are extremely comfortable, with plenty of fluffy pillows to help send you off to dreamland. When you awake and are ready to head out into the city, the showers are hot, although not scalding, as they are solar heated– part of the owners’ drive to be more eco-friendly.
As I came back from each day’s adventures, passing under a trellis of jasmine and by a night-blooming shrub of flowers just as luxuriously scented, it felt like the grounds themselves were welcoming me home. My next time here, I’m going to make time to sit out on my own little patio in the comfy chair provided and do absolutely nothing. Or, perhaps better yet, I’ll spring for one of the upstairs VIP rooms with my own private balcony and Jacuzzi tub.
Surprisingly for a city the size of Arequipa, there seems to be a lack of really good hotels in the mid-range of pricing. For anyone who wants to avoid both the sterility of a chain hotel or the price tag of a 5-star one, Villa Elisa offers a fabulous option that is priced far below the experience you will receive.
For more information on booking tours to Arequipa and elsewhere in Peru, feel free to contact us at Unique Peru Tours. We work hard to make your trip here the experience of a lifetime!