The Brilliant Spa That Will Cure Your Machu Picchu Muscles
Whichever Inca trek or tour to Machu Picchu you choose, you're going to want some recovery time once you've completed your once-in-a-lifetime climb. Most trekkers head back to Cusco to soothe their tired muscles and explore a little more of the city. After my brilliant (but intense) Inca trek, I did just that. But I also splashed out and treated my weary limbs to a spa session and body massage at the seriously luxe Palacio Del Inka Hotel and Spa. And I'm pretty sure they're still thanking me for this fantastic post-trek pamper.
There is no shortage of cheap massages for backpackers in Cusco, as the countless vendors on the streets will attest, but after conquering so many fears on top of the world's most famous mountain, I wanted to celebrate with something a little more extravagant. So if you've got room in your travel budget to splurge a bit (I spent around $130), read on and get yourself booked into this glorious spa during your stay in Cusco.
The Palacio Del Inka is a Rosewood hotel, so as you can imagine every touch is trés chic and done with impeccable care. And the spa itself is no exception. The hotel was once the home of Francisco Pizarro, Peru’s first Spanish governor, and this historical glamour shines throughout the Palacio. The spa's decor is modern but with a colonial twist: dark wood dominates the changing room but bright, creamy marble and LED lights brighten up the treatment rooms.
I rang the hotel to book at the very last minute (so unlike me, right? ha!) and was expecting zero availability, but the kind staff managed to squeeze me in at lunchtime that very day. So if you don't want to reserve in advance and are visiting Cusco during shoulder season, you might be able to do the same.
I booked a half day spa experience which included access to the spa's hydrotherapy pools, thermal circuit (i.e. steam room, sauna and showers) and a one-hour full body massage of my choice.
Literally as soon as you enter, your relaxation mode will kick in. I was greeted by a warm staff member, who kindly assessed my Machu Picchu aches and pains as well as my aromatherapy preferences before leading me into the changing rooms. There, I slipped into my bikini, a cozy terrycloth robe and some massage sandals. Yes, you know the ones, with the little balls that massage into the soles of your feet with every single step.
We met back in the hydrotherapy room, where she me guided through the circuit so I knew exactly which jet would target which muscle group. There are jets specific to the calves and lower back, the mid-back, the upper back and shoulders, the full body (with lots of bubbles, whoop!) and a steamy whirlpool to relax at the end. With an hour to indulge, I dove right into the water to ensure I'd have enough time to make a few rounds of the circuit. I savoured it as long as a could, until they finally came and kicked me out for a refreshing muña tea. Muña is an herb that grows in the Peruvian Andes said to be great for the digestive system and bone health.
Afterwards, you're led to a Finish sauna circuit complete with all the traditional features: steam room, sauna and hot and cold showers. However, the Inka Palacio's circuit finishes with what's called a "cyclonic bi-thermal" shower that releases hot and cold water simultaneously on a time-release for each part of your body. It starts at the ankles and calves and works its way up your body at 30-second intervals with a grand finale rainforest shower on your head and shoulders. And if that's not exciting enough, don't you worry, this all happens in sync to LED lights too! This shower method is said to activate blood circulation, strengthen and slow muscle contraction and help with unwanted cellulite.
Fully detoxed, you'll head to the spa's relaxation room, where you can chill (and try your best not to fall asleep) on a heated chaise longue whilst you gaze at a starlit ceiling and listen to soothing sounds, both of which the spa claims help rebalance your brain's frequencies.
Eventually, you'll somehow manage to peel yourself off your lounger and head back to the changing rooms to dry off ahead of your full body massage. One of the staff returned to escort me to my massage room where the masseuse was ready and waiting. I entered, slipped off my robe and soaked in a gorgeous lavender scent whilst she gently worked every aching muscle. At this point, I did drift off to sleep, so she gently woke up me to flip me over, and again, when it time to go.
Pro beauty tip: If you're done an intense trek or hike, remember to opt for more gentle massages, like aromatherapy or hot stone, as something as intense as a Swedish massage can do more harm than good to sore muscles.
Despite my dreamy state, I managed to drift back to my hotel and enjoy a very lazy evening indeed. And I now rave about and recommend this fantastic Cusco spa experience to anyone who's willing to listen.
So, if you're headed to Cusco, what are you waiting for? Get yourself booked in. You can thank me later.
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