Martine Bury embarks on a voyage through South America’s most exquisite destination and shares her Lima travel guide with us in this three-part series on Peru.
The Coolest Capital
From above, Lima is a dense, random jumble of modern high-rises, colorful Spanish colonial architecture and crumbling pre-Columbian temples flanked by imposing cliffs that hold back the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean.
We begin our journey in the bohemian Barranco district with a stay at Arts Boutique Hotel B. Built in 1914 for a wealthy family, the historic manor house shines in crisp white from its corner position—a stone’s throw from the city’s best surfing beach. The check-in process is gracious, delivering us upstairs, past bright yellow and pastel blue walls lined floor-to-ceiling with a mix of surreal, modern and colonial period artworks, to our guestroom. One of 17, it’s the sexiest suite I’ve ever seen. The layering of fabrics, antiques and art books—between a soaring ceiling and original wide planked floors—takes my breath away. Downstairs a series of intimate nooks comprise the dining room, library and bar spaces where guests enjoy menus curated by famed Chef Oscar Velarde or indulge in “el lonche,” Peru’s decadent high tea ritual.
At every turn, Barranco offers excellent art galleries, hip eateries, cool coffee shops, bars and boutiques. We walk past stately 19th century homes in various stages of restoration; enter La Catedral, the neighborhoods main Catholic cathedral; walk along the Bajada de los Baños to view the beach and the sea; and traverse the romantic Puente de Los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs). My favorite part is a private tour of MATE – Museo Mario Testino, the showpiece, nonprofit art space belonging to famed Peruvian fashion photographer.
Before we experience world-class culinary bites at Pedro Miguel Schiaffino’s Malabar, Gastón Acurio’s Astrid y Gastón or Virgilio Martínez’s Central—we go to the roots. So the morning begins with a guided walk through Lima’s organic farmers market with a food historian. Early in the day is also the best time to grab a seafood breakfast—catch-of-the-day ceviche at Terminal Pesquero, the city’s largest fish market. We’re whisked to the outskirts of Lima to the by appointment only, sustainable farm of Alfonso Roda Marrou, visionary owner of Don Torcuato in Pachacamac. He produces organic fruits, leafy greens, edible flowers and vegetables for the region’s top chefs.
Terroir is a word usually associated with wine, meaning taste of the land. Here, Marrou urges us to dig, pick and taste the earth’s bounty—inspiring our honest appreciation and respect for these fertile grounds. It feels like the appropriate homage to the ancient Andean culture that worships Pachamama—goddess of fertility, planting and harvesting—above all. After pulling yucca from the dirt and clipping our salad, Marrou’s family dishes a simple, memorable lunch of rotisserie chicken and herb-fried potatoes.
A stop at glamorous, 1920s era Country Club Lima Hotel in upscale San Isidro rounds out an afternoon of eating our way through the capital. One of the country’s most esteemed Pisco sommeliers guides us through the history of Peru’s national, grape-based spirit. We take a seat at the hotel’s Bar Ingles, helmed by bartender Roberto Meléndez, whose father served up the original Pisco Sours at Hotel Maury in the 1940s. We sample a boozy array of traditional cocktails like pineapple-infused Pisco Punch and my favorite, fizzy ginger ale and bitters-based Chilcano.
Continue following Martine’s journey through Peru – next she travels to the Sacred Valley.