Editor’s note: This Arequipa hotel changed from a Sonesta to a Casa Andina Select (a Peruvian chain) after this review went up, so we have changed the name throughout.
With a premium location on Arequipa’s central plaza, facing the greenery and the Basilica Cathedral, this Casa Andina Select hotel is popular with those who want to explore one of Peru’s main tourist cities on foot. With its enviable spot in the heart of the city, it’s a reliable mid-range base if you’ll be spending more time out of your room than in it.
It’s worth the reasonable rates here just to take in the terrific views of the cathedral, which takes up an entire side of the square. The church hasn’t had great luck over the years: in the mid-1800s much of it got burned in a fire, then soon after rebuilding was complete an earthquake sent it tumbling down. What it lacks in original construction though it makes up in grandeur, especially at night when it’s all lit up and you can look out on it while having a drink or dinner on the hotel’s dining balcony.
The restaurant is merely adequate, used mostly by those who want a romantic view and don’t mind putting up with the inconsistent service that comes with it. A breakfast buffet with a wide variety of Peruvian and international options gets travelers on their way with plenty of healthy options though and there are dozens of other places to eat in the streets nearby in this bustling part of town.
Recreation facilities are limited—this is a hotel housed in colonial-era buildings with no room to expand after all—but there is a small pool on the roof for sunning and splashing if the weather gets hot. There are terrific views from here of the surrounding volcanic mountains, sometimes topped with snow.
Otherwise guests use this as a base for all the adventure activities in the region or a stop on the way to or from the Colca Canyon. This grand plaza hotel is an easy walk to Arequipa’s main attractions, like the the Santa Catalina Monastery and the Museum of the Dama de Ampato (containing a mummified sacrificed child found at the top of a mountain in the region).
You get a towel and welcome drink while checking in at the reception desk, then get escorted to one of 58 rooms. Most are small but comfortable, with cable TV, reasonably-priced minibars, a desk, good mattress, and combo bath with a few toiletries. The WiFi is included and generally works well.
The best rooms face the plaza and have a small enclosed balcony area with a half-circle window. These feel much roomier and have more light than most, though there are also a few suites with a sitting area or a separate living room.
Staffers are friendly and most speak enough English to get by. There’s coca tea always set out in the lobby for those who want some help with the altitude. Arequipa is at about 7,600 feet in altitude, which is not as bad as Cusco, but still high.
Rates here are usually between $90 and $150 double, but many of the rooms are often blocked out by tour groups coming in on a bus. Plan ahead, especially between May and September. Book through Travelocity or Expedia.
Review and photos by editor Tim Leffel, who received a discounted media rate from the property while visiting Arequipa.