Painted the near robin’s-egg blue of a Tiffany’s box, Villa Barranco is a stay you’ll be just as eager to get inside – a restored 1920s republican house that’s been painstakingly polished, buffed and embellished into a charming boutique hotel for the now. Local craftspeople were called upon to repair a mosaic frieze, stuccoes, graceful balconies and French terracotta roof tiles; while within – wanting to keep the villa from looking like a time capsule – designers spent a year and a half sourcing sleek contemporary pieces, Limeño crafts and just the right amount of eye-catching antiques and artwork. Now, taking on all the bohemian romance and street-art-splattered cool of its same-name neighbourhood, it’s a proposal you’ll undoubtedly say ‘yes’ to.
Get this when you book through us:
A signature Peruvian cocktail: either a Chilcano de Pisco (with Pisco, ginger ale and lime); or an El Capitán (with Pisco, sweet vermouth and angostura bitters). GoldSmiths get a bottle of Peruvian Malbec
12 noon, but flexible a couple hours either side of check-in and out, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £147.32 ($187), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional government tax of 18% per booking on check-in.
Rates include a delicious homemade breakfast of Peruvian fruit, cakes and breads, eggs any-way, waffles, crêpes made to order.
While rooms aren’t adapted, Junior Suite five has a street-level entrance and a roll-in shower.
At the hotel
Rooftop bar and terrace, garden, interior courtyard, lounge and library, free WiFi, free-to-borrow bikes and helmets, charged laundry service, free WiFi. In rooms: Glass bottles with filtered water (refilled on request), air-conditioning, organic bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Each has something unique to offer, plus furnishings and antiques of different eras that took the designer a year and a half to track down. Most have outdoor space too – three rooms on the ground level each have a slice of garden (with seating for happy hour), and interconnect for families and groups. But, we rather like Junior Suite 7, set upstairs from the courtyard and with a tucked-away terrace all to itself. And, the Master Suite is the star act – with a separate loft through which you access a terrace with a Pacific view, and a huge bathroom where a freestanding tub sits under a skylight and there’s a small dressing area too.
‘Look, don’t tag’ applies in this street-art haven, where it’s a local privilege to scribble on the walls – leave the spray paints at home, but pack a sketchbook to capture the vibrant full-wall works.
With 24 hours’ notice, a masseur can be called in for a treatment in your room.
The villa’s cosy, homey feel means families will feel welcome, but there’s not much to distract smalls onsite. Children up to the age of six can share their parents' bed for free, otherwise the full rate will apply.
The Ananay group put life and personality back into this 1920s villa, gently restoring stuccoes and zhuzhing up the interiors, moulding new clay roof tiles (even using the original French stamp), and restoring the mosaic frieze around one of the villa’s towers in a local crafts workshop. It’s not their first rodeo too – they’ve previously worked on antique houses in Cusco and have another in the works for Arequipa City. In furnishing Barranco, they didn’t want it to look like a museum, so antique and modern pieces were sourced. The hotel is green in how it operates too: only organic, biodegradable cleaning products are used, plastics are banned, water is filtered using reverse osmosis and served in glass bottles in rooms, and the hotel only uses Peruvian products, including wine and spirits. And, they’ve partnered with Qaira who work to improve air quality, and Sinba, who lobby for responsible waste management and social equality.
The garden terrace with its striped parasols, elegant white railings and flower-speckled greenery seems to hark back to Barranco’s former life as a resort. If you have your own terrace, even better.
Lima has some of the best dining in the world – within six blocks there are several restaurants that have sat comfortably among the top 10 of the World’s 50th Best Restaurants for years. So, guests tend to arrive with bookings firmly in place and the hotel feels little need to compete with near culinary perfection. Having said that – their breakfast spread is impressive, served in a dining room that feels just like home (with a little library in the corner, Peruvian artworks, trinkets lining shelves) or on a terrace that overlooks the garden’s flowering bushes. All ingredients are local, most from the Mercado de Surquillo, and guests will find a table filled with fruit, breads and cakes laid out with juices and hot drinks – and hot dishes (crêpes, waffles and eggs) are made to order.
Tucked away in the villa’s muddle of terraces and towers is a small rooftop bar with some cushioned banquettes and a couple of stools at the counter. It’s practically illegal to not serve Pisco here, so it’s prominent on the drinks trolley, but in keeping with the promotion of Peruvian-only products, everything on the cart is sourced in the country, including some spirits you might not realise were made here: rum, whiskey, gin… And some very drinkable wines too.
Breakfast is from 6am to 11am. Drinks on the roof terrace run from 6pm till 10pm, but staff are happy to whet your whistle earlier on request.
Breakfast, drinks and light snacks can be brought to your door from 7am to 10pm.
Villa Barranco is just a block from the Malecón, the palm-tree-lined boulevard that runs up Lima’s Pacific coastline, with beaches beyond. It sits on a quiet street amid colonial and mock-Tudor mansions.
The closest airport to the hotel is Jorge Chavez International, a 40-minute drive away. There are direct routes across North and South America and some stretching over to Europe. Private transfers can be arranged from PEN90 (around US$25).
Do you know how to play the horn? You may well after driving in Lima – it’s the language of cars in the city, whether you’re warning a pedestrian that you’re coming or alerting someone to the light turning green. If you must drive, go confidently and match the energy of your fellow roadsters; and there’s a free car park about 50 metres from the hotel. But, for a greener and serene-r way of getting about, download the Moovit app to navigate bus routes.
Worth getting out of bed for
Barranco is one of Lima’s most colourful and romantic districts and was once separate from the city as a beach retreat for wealthy residents, so has a distinct personality. The city’s creatives gravitate here, and walls are plastered with imaginative street art, rainbow-hued colonial mansions have been turned into bars and you can pick up artworks from folk to modern. First, wander hand in hand through the Parque Municipal, which has artful flower beds, and then over the Bridge of Sighs; it’s not quite as storied or grand as the one in Venice, but it has inspired songs and paintings over the years. Pause for photos by La Ermita and La Catedral – the district’s two saffron-hued religious monuments. Art is all around you here, with graffitists going all out on the district’s walls – you can book a street-art tour, but for free you can get your fill by just pounding pavements. Otherwise, hit up the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (AKA MAC Lima), which – alongside through-provoking pieces – has a peaceful park around it and a lively programme of events. Or go further back at Museo Pedro de Osma, with a colonial-era collection in a century-old mansion, and way back at Museo Larco, which houses silver, gold and pottery from the ancients, and has an eyebrow-raising gallery dedicated to erotica. Once you’ve stopped clutching your pearls, buy some mod Peruvian jewellery and more (ceramics, handmade kids’ toys, handwoven hats, mini ‘altarpieces’) at concept store Dédalo, and avant-garde threads at Pulga. And then chill out on the beach, which you can access through the park – as the only capital city in South America on the Pacific coast, the sunsets are really something here, and dancers take to the Malecón around this time. And beyond the borough, see performers in Plaza de Armas, the city’s main square, scramble over pre-Incan pyramid Huaca Pucllana (Machu Picchu is a smidge too far for a day-trip), and paraglide along the coast.
Lima’s dining scene – from itty-bitty street carts to decorated restaurants with menus that hack away at boundaries – is as lofty a Peruvian feat as Machu Picchu. There’s comfort food in warming sudado (stew), anticuchos (meat skewers) and corn pudding, but push your palate and you’ll be well-rewarded. Central Restaurante brings indigenous Andean and Amazonian ingredients to the fore, such as edible cyanobacteria kushuru, root vegetables and freshwater fish arapaima. And dishes on the up-to-17-course tasting menus have poetic names such as ‘land of corn’ and ‘colors of Amazonia’. Mérito has a mod-monkish look with its spartan wood tables weighed down by a single stone, but its menu is a little more colourful, serving up tiradito with cocona citrus fruit and oca-root (a kind of yam), glazed pork belly with arepas, and a hibiscus frozen cloud for dessert. But perhaps you don’t want a dish so meticulously conceived that it looks like it landed from space, in which case Isolina is the place for you – it’s also held a place in the 50 Best Restaurants in the World, but sits you in an unassuming dining space and fills your table with ossobuco, fall-apart pork ribs and ceviche with octopus crackling. The latter delicacy tends to pop up on almost every menu you’ll encounter this close to the coast, but in Barranco, one of the best cevicherías is Canta Rana (‘the singing frog’, but don’t let that put you off). And Siete once again leaps into the dining deep end – the restaurant in a vintage building has a youthful energy to its playful plates (scallops with ice-tea and plum, crêpes with char-siu pancetta and crab, Levantine-style salads) and stiff-competition cocktails.
Bag a board game, coffee made with local beans and a just-squeezed juice and head out to La Bodega Verde’s sweet, flower-threaded terrace, which sometimes has a teepee to shelter in too.
In a heavily decorated antique mansion, telephone handsets and a bike hang like a chandelier from the ceiling, classic paintings get cheeky makeovers on the walls and curious sculptures greet you, and an irreverent spirit rules: this is Dada Restobar. A curiously fun night-starter, their cocktail list has delightful fruity sippers: the Lomellini with whiskey, smoked passionfruit, ginger and honey; and Artemisia with rum, yuca, pineapple, orange and coconut. More down to Earth is the Barranco Beer Company, whose raft of artisanal cervezas have earned them global recognition. And, Pisco sours are practically mandatory in Peru – like ceviche, you’ll find them everywhere, but Antigua Taberna Queirolo feels like a step back in time and pours a particularly good iteration, alongside other traditional drinks and spirits.
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 old-school romantic of a hotel in Lima’s Barranco district and unpacked their Limeño folk art and silky-soft alpaca wool jumper, a full account of their bohemian break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Villa Barranco in Peru…
When looking at the before pictures of Villa Barranco – a 1920s republican house that’s been brought back to life, with its gappy roof tiles, washed-out façade, dulled friezes and shabby window frames – you might not immediately see one of Lima’s most beautifully conceived boutique hotels, but you get a flicker of the promise the Ananay group saw in it. They feel passionately about conserving Peruvian heritage and are renowned for rescuing pre-loved properties and meticulously re-glamourising them, calling on local craftsmen to fill in any gaps, and from the figurative ashes building something that fits neatly into a city's dynamic present. Now, the villa is hot property, even amid the grand manses of the Barranco neighbourhood, an artsy quarter which runs rainbow with large-scale street art and gaily painted houses. Beyond its elegant white fence, it’s a place of breakfasts among bougainvillaea (with a delicious spread hauled form a local market), Pisco o’ clocks on a tucked-away roof terrace and resting up after the day’s adventures in rooms with decor from past and present that feels like its been naturally accrued over decades rather than simply superbly styled. So, that promise of the villa’s glow-up has been well and truly fulfilled.