Popupla founder Pavia Rosati checks into Hotel B, the new art hotel in Barranco, Lima's chic-again neighborhood.
LIMA – I was in Lima for a 24-hour layover between the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu. Which means my time was tight and my expectations were low. This is a massive city, and there’s only so much you can do in a day. But I managed to squeeze in a lot, from the colonial to the post-modern – an accurate description for , where I spent far too little time.
Hotel B, an intimate Relais & Chateaux hotel that opened in late 2013, occupies two structures in the hot Barranco neighborhood. The ornate main building that holds the lobby and common areas was originally the Belle Epoque mansion built as a beachside escape by Claude Sahut, the French architect who designed many of Lima’s public spaces, parks, and palaces. The three-floor guest room annex next door is by contrast a study in modernity, all glass and steel. The hotel is an absolute stunner, from the bright white exterior decorated with columns, urns, and balconies to the intimate indoor spaces overflowing with art. Rooms are spacious and cozy, with high-design touches and all the right amenities.
Claim to Fame
The art collection and the dynamic way it's displayed throughout the hotel in the public spaces — the dining area and bar on the ground floor, the lobby, the restaurant, and the second-floor lounge. I took a zillion photos, inspired to arrange my own high ceilings in similar ways. ("No," my husband said. "We're not a hot Peruvian hotel.") The hotel is affiliated with Lucia de la Puente Gallery, the modern art gallery next door, and guests have access to openings and special events.
What’s on Site
A cool bar that attracts the local art scene, a restaurant that serves traditional Peruvian cuisine, a ground floor patio with a vertical garden, and an expansive rooftop patio (ideal for photo shoots). There's no gym, but stationary bikes are available.
I love a hotel breakfast spread, and this is one of the best, with pots of coffee, herbal infusions, freshly baked breads, tropical fruits, and a full menu on command. It's served in the Library, so you're eating on sofas. Such a civilized way to start the day. Their afternoon high tea ritual, El Lonche, is served throughout the ground floor.
Room with a View
There are 17 rooms in three categories located in the historic mansion and the modern annex. The largest are the five Atelier suites in the historic mansion (all have king-sized beds and sitting rooms; some have balconies), followed by eight Aposento rooms (king-size beds and free-standing bathtubs), and five Alcoba rooms (queen-sized beds). All have views of tree-lined Calle San Martin street, the sea, the interior courtyard, or the Spanish Diplomatic Residence next door. I was in an Alcoba, which had a fantastic white-tiled bathroom and two wardrobes lined with bright striped paper, one of which housed the TV. That was a nice touch: I hate looking at a TV. Other nice touches included free WiFi, and a black tie laid across my bed, intended to be left on the exterior doorknob if I wanted any privacy.
This Place Is Perfect For
Escapism. A discreet weekend affair. Lounging around and pretending you're a creature of leisure with nothing to do but read novels over pots of tea in the sunshine in a setting that reflects your truly refined taste in everything.
But Not So Perfect For
Anyone too noisy, from children to d-bags.
Barranco is the trendiest neighborhood in Lima right now, filled with the kind of shops, galleries, restaurants, and bars that attract the cool crowd. That said, the neighborhood still has a slightly gritty feel that shows it's gone through phases since its inception as a beach town for the Limeño aristocracy. It hasn't all been gentrified, and even the hipster places have a laid-back, romantic quality. Probably because we're in South America, and I'll stick by the gross stereotype that these people know how to live.
What to Do Nearby
Gallery-hop, starting next door at ; then on to , the museum of contemporary art; and , the mansion complex that spotlights the work of the renowned photographer (and beloved Peruvian son) as well as other contemporary artists. Open-air sites include Parque Municipal (the city park with marble statues), Puente de los Suspiros ("the bridge of sighs" billed in very corny style as a place for couples), and El Mirador (the lookout onto the Pacific Ocean). At , an "arts and artisans" shop in a former mansion, the rooms feel like individual boutiques filled with clothes for women, men, and kids as well as accessories, textiles, and housewares made by local designers and for sale at all price points. This may be the only shop you need to visit. Plan to spend a long time, even if you're not a shopper. There's a cafe and performance space in the back garden. in a former mansion has fantastic, funky decor, lots of rooms to get lost in, a backyard garden, and gets especially rowdy after hours.
Good to Know
It's not you: Lima really is a very foggy and smoggy city. It's not nearly as sunny in atmosphere as it is in personality.
Rates start at $315. .