Leave the trucks and tuk-tuks of the Pan-American Highway behind and wash up at KiChic, a beachfront boutique hotel in Máncora, a surfer-favoured town amid the desert scapes of north-west Peru. This former family home has been lovingly turned into a series of standalone suites styled to look like sea-level treehouses. Some of the world's greatest surf and ceviche can be found on this stretch of shore, with seafood shacks and buzzy beach bars all within walking distance. The pool runs parallel to the beach, but they almost needn't have bothered: the Pacific, with all its super swells, is right in front of you. Castaways welcome.
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A private sunset cinema experience for two on the beach
Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, on request.
Double rooms from £267.82 ($330), including tax at 18 per cent.
Rates usually include buffet breakfasts. In peak season (New Year, Easter and during Independence Day festivities in the last week of July), a minimum stay of four nights applies.
The hotel has yoga classes every day except Wednesday (at 9am and sunset), along with cinema nights on the beach. And if dialling zero isn’t your preferred mode of communication, you’ll love the walkie-talkie you’ll be given to chat to staff with instead.
At the hotel
Beach, yoga sala, laundry, walkie-talkies to radio staff and free WiFi in communal areas. In rooms: sun hats, air-conditioning, a minibar, tea- and coffee-making kit, and bespoke bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each of the rooms is unique in its artefact-employing interiors, some with rattan roofs, but all with hand-picked design details from all over the world. If direct beach access is a dealbreaker, go for Suite Chic, which also has an ocean-facing deck, an outdoor shower and a Pablo Nerudo quote on the wall.
There’s a pool running parallel to the beach, lined with sunloungers, with a four-poster cabana at one end (join the queue to sequester it for sunset).
There’s no spa, but the hotel has a masterful masseuse on speed-dial, who can appear for reflexology, reiki and chakra realignment.
The hotel is on northern Peru’s Pacific coast: if you want to fit in with the local travellers, bring some neoprene-based clothing for riding the waves in style.
The hotel is not easily accessible for wheelchair users.
Leave the kids at home – this one’s for over-14s only.
At breakfast, go for a table on the terrace overlooking the beach; if you’re lucky (and it’s between July and October), some whales may join you. At dinner, ask for the cosy nook. Or if there’s lots of you, book out the huge table beneath the yoga sala.
If you forgot the on-trend Escvdo threads, don’t worry: you can pick some up in the KiChic boutique.
The restaurant, bar and lounge all blur into one space, with a huge seashell chandelier that tinkles in the Pacific breeze as the centrepiece. There’s no meat on the menu, but you can expect dishes such octopus with olives, and a tuna-based take on the classic Peruvian dish lomo saltado. Save room for the house-made ice-creams and truffles afterwards. The owner is a vegan, so plant-based eaters are well catered for, too.
There’s no separate bar, but settle into a white sofa in the main communal space and order a drink to enjoy as you flick through the coffee-table tomes or a vintage copy of National Geographic to a Balearic-beat soundtrack.
KiChic is in the Las Pocitas part of Máncora Beach, a stretch of Pacific-lapped coastline in north-west Peru.
Talara Airport is closest, just over an hour away by car. Hotel transfers start from US$77. It’s over a thousand kilometres to Lima, but you’ll be able to connect to a short domestic flight there; the journey is around an hour and 40 minutes. Internal flights between the capital and Tumbes take under two hours; to Piura, it’s around 90 minutes in the air. Tumbes is an hour and 45 minutes by car to Máncora; from Piura, the drive should take an hour and a half. The hotel can arrange transfers from either of these airports, too.
The nearest town centre is a mile or so along the coast in Máncora Town. There’s a car park at the hotel.
If you want to take to the Pan American Highway in authentic local style, hop in a tuk-tuk and enjoy the (bumpy) ride.
Worth getting out of bed for
Máncora Beach is a Pacific patch that’s a perfect place to unplug, so if all you want to do is snooze on your day-bed, good for you (just make sure you set your alarm to catch the sunset over the ocean every day). If you do want to expend a little more energy than that, start by having the hotel book in its fabulous massage therapist to assist with getting you into relaxation mode. Go for a run on the beach, watching out for the horses (who are also partial to a daily gallop). Other in-house activities include dreamcatcher designing, bird-watching, horse-riding, surfing and kite-surfing classes and cookery lessons. Stake out a sunlounger by the pool or on the beach, where there are also some beanbags to sunbathe on. Between July and October, whales will be passing by the Peru coast, and the hotel will be able to organise trips out to watch them cruise past. The concierge can also hook guests up with Gonzalo, who runs a local boat-trip company and will help you set sail on the Pacific. Ceviche fans should head to the market or a cevicheria in Máncora for possibly the cheapest (and best) cured fish you’ll ever eat.
Máncora is a laid-back Pacific town, popular with backpackers and surfers who make great company for beers in a bar at sunset. Honeymooners wistful for their gap-year days will enjoy the brunch at Green Eggs & Ham in Máncora (prepare to rub shoulders with other gringos over pancakes). If you love raw fish, but prefer it rolled and with rice, Yuka is the sushi spot for you. For a change of scene, head to the hotel next-door, Hotel Arennas, where the menu includes more ceviches (obviously), as well as tiraditos, chimichurri octopus and Nikkei skewers. La Sirena d’Juan serves up some of the best seafood in northern Peru; expect just-caught yellowfin tuna and tasty tiraditos straight from the sea in front of you.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Peru and unpacked their surf boards and neoprene, a full account of their beachfront break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Kichic in Máncora…
There have been other times in history when Peru and Japan have come together to form something perfect (yes, we're looking at you Nikkei cuisine). At KiChic, a labour-of-love boutique retreat on the beach in Máncora, a similar union has taken place, and we're here for it. 'Ki' is a Japanese philosophy concerning vitality, energy and strength – and ‘chic’ (you may have guessed) is what makes it look so good. So it's an energetic, effortlessly stylish place, where Japanese flourishes come not only in the form of the green tea and the patterned-china tea kettle in your room. And it's not just the Far East that gets a nod: the owner has collected enviable artefacts from her travels and brought them back home (she lives next-door). It's a match made in heaven – or just deepest north-west Peru.