Perched on a Peruvian peninsula on the rambling banks of Lake Titicaca, an hour from any town, Titilaka hotel looks and feels removed from real life. Plunked in the middle of some of the world’s most remote and spectacular surroundings, this isolation is also steeped in history, just a boat ride from the birthplace of the Incans. It’s not just about the outdoors here: local artwork, excellent fare and dazzling rooms remind you of the lengths the staff go to create splendour in this tiny, secluded and breath-stealingly scenic spot.
10am, but flexible, subject to availability (at half the room rate). Earliest check-in, 12pm.
Double rooms from £914.34 ($1,102), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates (based on double occupancy) include all meals and drinks, minibar snacks, and most local activities.
Each night, staff leave you a poem with colourful details about the activities that await you the next day. Helpfully, it also offers tips on dealing with altitude. Bath products are as local as can be: they are made by the owner’s sister using muña, or Andean mint.
Each room has a lake view, but the Corner rooms on the third floor have double windows with the best vistas – just throw back the blackout curtains and take in the panorama from the comfort of your enormous bed. Start the day in splendour with striking views from the Dawn rooms. Opt for one on the third floor, where the open-plan bathroom’s freestanding tub will offer the best lake look-out.
The temperature dips quite low, so stock up on Alpaca sweaters. You can leave thermal PJs at home, though: the hot water bottles replenished each evening at the foot of your bed will warm your cockles. Each room also has sandals, handmade using recycled rubber tyres. Leave room to pack Peruvian textiles from the locals who weave wall hangings and rugs from impossibly bright threads. Note that there are no ATMs in the vicinity, so arrive stocked with local currency (nuevos soles).
Smoking is permitted on the terraces and in outdoor areas.
Welcome: cots for babies and toddlers are free; older children can stay in their parents’ room on the sleeper sofa at no charge.
The area around the lodge literally buds with Titilaka's green initiatives: the hotel has worked to reintroduce local shrubs and trees to the lakefront. The staff recycle everything that they can – including lake water – and buys most of its products and food ingredients at a local market. Guests can donate items or money to support the local through a wish list.
Opt for window seats at lunch to best enjoy the view. On beautiful evenings, the terrace is secluded and romantic.
Bold prints and modern jewellery will keep you as stylish as the art on display.
The house restaurant makes the lake the star, with floor-to-ceiling windows promising 270º panoramic views over the water, and many ingredients , such as lake trout, plundered from its depths. Specials change every four days and the menu showcases locally sourced, contemporary Peruvian dishes, featuring regional specialties such as quinoa and alpaca meat.
The long lakefront lounge serves drinks until 2:30am; after hours, there’s always the free minibar in your room. All drinks – except a few spirits and premium wines – are included in the rate, so sit back with a cocktail. The staff can shake nearly anything, but the tart and frothy pisco sour is the national speciaity.
Dinner is served until 10:30pm says 7–9 online. Early risers can have breakfast as early as 5:30am, but don’t worry if you fancy a lie-in; it’s available until noon.
Drinks and casual bites, including sandwiches, soups and salads, can be brought to you at any time.
Titilaka is on the banks of Lake Titicaca in southern Peru. If it’s glorious isolation you’re looking for, you’ve found it here – it’s around an hour to the nearest town.
Inca Manco Cápac Airport, in Juliaca (half an hour by car from Puno), is just under two hours’ drive from the hotel. Several airlines, including Lan (www.lan.com), Star Peru (www.starperu.com) and Taca (www.taca.com) operate flights to and from Peruvian cities, including Lima (four times a day), Arequipa and Cusco (both twice a day).
The closest station is in Puno, a 45-minute drive away. PeruRail (www.perurail.com) runs a sublimely scenic route through the Andes to Cusco a few times a week.
The 45-minute drive from Puno can be stressful at night, when roads are not well lit. If you do drive, there's plenty of free parking at the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
Prepare to spend your days afloat. Titilaka gives guests free use of kayaks and rowing boats. Inkasailing (www.inkasailing.com) operates a spectacular sailing boat on the lake: charter it on your own or book a tour. The staff provide lunch, drinks and snacks as you skim the water. On land, borrow a mountain bike from the hotel, hike the nearby hills or stroll the shoreline.
The staff can arrange dozens of full-day trips. Travel to Titicaca’s Uros Floating Islands, which are fashioned from reeds by the native Uros people who live on them. Charter a boat to the secluded Taquile Island, toward the Bolivian side of the lake. The island is home to traditional weavers whose textiles, ponchos and purses are Unesco-protected as cultural heritage.
A four-hour boat ride south from the hotel, the lake’s Isla del Sol is the birthplace of the Incans. The island’s 80 ruins date back to the 1400s, though scientists believe that people inhabited the island as early as the third millennium BC. The island holds an Incan garden, a traditional medicine centre and a shop with souvenir-worthy handicrafts.
Not in these parts. The nearest dining options are 45 minutes away in Puno – but you’re unlikely to go hungry with Titilaka’s kitchen on call.
Every hotel is visited personally by members of our team and given the Smith seal of approval. As soon as our anonymous reviewers have returned from this boutique hotel in Lake Titicaca and unpacked their textiles and quinoa, a full account of their lake escape will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Titilaka boutique hotel in Peru…
Way up in the Andes, where the air can be dizzyingly thin, the world’s highest navigable lake sits shimmering and mysterious on the border of Peru and Bolivia. You might dismiss the sight of a luxurious boutique hotel on a remote peninsula of Lake Titicaca as a symptom of altitude sickness but, nope, Titilaka is real.
The whitewashed cottage has 270-degree views, and knows better than to compete with the natural splendour around it. All 18 of the modern rooms direct focus to the vast and serene waters, which glow orange and dawn and dusk. Even the bathrooms – all with rain showers, many with soaking tubs – have curtains that draw to reveal the world’s highest navigable lake. Titilaka takes advantage of all nearby resources: menu ingredients are sourced locally, products are made with Andean ingredients, and the hotel’s modern art is crafted by Peruvian artists using classic styles. Up in the highlands, the air is quite thin, so the hotel provides in-room oxygen masks, as well as games and books for guests who need some leisure time during altitude adjustment. For those who’ve adjusted, the lake is ideal for early hikes, boat explorations and day trips to see Isla del Sol, the island where the first Incans lived. The Incan people believed that the lake had special powers After a few nights here, it’s hard to disagree.