One of the big reasons for staying in central Lima for my last few nights in Peru was that I just didn’t love where I stayed when I arrived. And I like mixing it up if I can. I flipped through my guide book and found a reasonably priced hotel in the center of the action called Kamana Hotel. I booked the hotel and a ride from the airport online once I was in the country and was confirmed by the next time I checked my email.
When I landed after my flight on Star Peru, the cab waiting was the only time in 2 weeks where my name was spelled correctly. Already made my day and off to a good start! The cabbie hardly spoke a lick of English and of course, my Spanish is miserable, though I did understand that he asked me where I was going next and all I could think of to say was “Casa Domingo” and make some hand gestures that I was flying home on Sunday. When he asked where I was from and said “Estados Unidos” he was the first person on my entire trip to respond with “Obama!”. Such a change from my last time in a foreign country, back in 08/09, in Australia when everyone was soooo excited every time I mentioned I was from the US (and not Canada).
The hotel is located in the center of the action, in between some of the major central sights on a smaller, but still very loud street. It is the main hotel for Tucan Travel tours and I saw people check in the same time I did who I had seen on Lake Titicaca and were on the same flight as me up from Puno who I knew were on those tours. It was the first hotel I had seen my entire time in Peru with a lift and there were Tucan tour posters in the elevator lobby.
The bad: Even though I was on the top floor, it still couldn’t keep out the sound of all the honking at all hours of the day. A room not facing the street might be a better option. The rooms were a bit cramped that in my room they jammed in three single beds were there were obviously only meant to be two. I am guessing this is for the tour groups and would have sucked even more if my room actually had three people! It wasn’t a very comfortable layout and there wasn’t any place to sit and watch tv because of it. The rooms also felt a bit damp. They were clean, but there was a dampness in the air and having the gray overcast skies all the time (not the hotels fault, I know) didn’t help. This was also the first proper hotel I stayed at that didn’t provide breakfast (or glasses in the room!) and had computers in the lobby that charged for using them. Not every place I stayed had computers, but those that did allowed guests to use them for free.
The good: Besides the noise on the street, the location was very good. They had a 24 hour security guard out front and while some got to know me, all I had to do was show my key and I was quickly let in the building. It felt very safe, considering the central location. It is located in between some major plazas and easy walking distance to all of them, including San Francisco.
The front desk was very helpful in providing maps to local sights and directions to the local supermarket, which was awesome! I actually ended up spending a lot of time there during my last few days in Peru as at that point, I was so ready to come home. The supermarket was HUGE and a great place to stock up on supplies and treats to bring home. The best part was for me, was a huge food-court they had on the upper floor where I ended up eating lunch for my last two days. The food was good and I wasn’t very hungry, thanks to the altitude for the majority of my trip, so I wasn’t stuck eating the huge portions that most Peruvians eat (very American-like in those regards) so I only paid for what I ate. It was all locals eating there and I stuck out like a sore thumb as a tourist, which I actually didn’t mind at all for this trip. The cashiers just smiled as I paid the price on the cash registers and we used hand signals and facial gestures when they offered me utensils and napkins.
In the room, the TV was awesome as it had been for the entirety of my trip and the shower had excellent pressure, probably the best shower I had for my entire trip.
Even though the hotel didn’t provide a free breakfast, it had a decent bar and restaurant attached to the ground floor with a huge menu. The prices were decent and the portions were small, which was good for me. Plus, always helpful, the menu had an English translation, which was perfect for me, so that I could just point to what I wanted and it was easy for everyone.
Moral: While not the best place I stayed at on my trip, it was well worth the change from La Castellana [link]. Not sure if I would recommend it over Miraflores, as I tried to approach Downtown Lima as someone who first stepped off the plane from the US and I don’t know if I would have had a good time if I was in that position. But as someone who had spent 2 weeks in the country and got to know the town, people, country and customs more at that point, I felt more prepared for that craziness of Downtown. I am very glad I mixed it up and at the same time, glad I stayed in each part of town when I did.