The best hotels are found in large cities, particularly the ones frequented by tourists. Lima and Cuzco have the best option, however cities like Arequipa, Puno, Iquitos, and Trujillo also have a few. International chains such as Holiday Inn, Marriot, and the Best Western are found in a few cities. The best hotels will follow all international standards and will have all of the same amenities as any 4 or 5 star hotel in North America. It is also possible to find a hotel on the lower end of the spectrum for say $25 for a double that is perfectly nice but small, charming, and have all of the amenities as a more expensive hotel. If you just want cleanliness, hot water, cable TV, comfort and can do without things such as air conditioning or heat, airport transfers, and can deal with the occasional awkward bit of local service you will likely be perfectly happy with one of these hotels and even happier because you saved a good deal of money. As far as resort type places go there are a few and in several styles. Jungle lodges would be the most prevalent in the Amazon. The amenities are basic in most places, and hot water is often rare, but they are often quite comfortable. There are many country style resort hotels n places such as Cuzco and the Sacred Valley. As for beach resorts there a few in and near Mancora, most are small however, with usually no more than 20 rooms and the prices are quite reasonable as you would find in a similar room in say, the Caribbean. Many hotels will include some sort of breakfast, whether it is a simple bread and tea to a full breakfast buffet. *The most expensive hotels apply an 18% tax, however, it is waived for non-Peruvian visitors if they retain a photocopy of their passport.
Hostals, guesthouses, hospedajes
When one thinks of a hostal, they might think of a hospital like place filled with students or people under the age of 22, that isn’t so much the case here although those places do exist in some places. Hostal here generally means a cheap hotel, one where you may or may not have your own bathroom. Some have dormitory style beds, but the prices are generally so cheap in most places that getting your own room is just as easy. Quality will vary dramatically. If you want to meet other travelers, including many solo travelers these are the types of places you should look for. They often have communal rooms for TV, books, kitchens, laundry, and more, which are great places to pick up on travel tips and find travel partners. Hot water is often rare. When it does exist, it is usually more on the warm side, sporadic, or only offered during certain times of the day. Electric showers are found often as well. In some places there are wires hanging down in the shower so be careful and try to adjust before you turn on the water. For electric showers to be actually hot, you sometimes have to turn the power on very low, maybe to just a trickle to concentrate all of the heat in one place. It may not be the best way to shower in the world, but it beats being cold. Many of the places are family run or in the home of a local family trying to earn a living. This is good for picking up language and experiencing how local families live and interact. Most have spent a good deal of time around travelers and are quite friendly and will want to know a little bit about your home and what you do for a living. Bringing a long a few photos of your friends, home, and city is not a bad idea.
In places where you are staying for a period of time like for a language school staying with a local family is quite common. They are often arranged by the school or by a tour operator and different from guesthouses and hospedajes because you actually live and become a part of the family rather than just renting a room form them. You take meals with them, possibly do a chore or two, and may go to community activities and events with them, although you will of course have your own space. Often times another international person will be in the same home at the same time.
Other than on mountain trails, camping is not as established in Peru as you might expect. Possibly because the price of a basic hotel is so cheap. There are really no established campgrounds, although some hotels will allow camping on their grounds. Camping on beaches is quite common, and for many surfers it is the only way to stay near the best waves.
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.