The Style Hunter, Luigi Irauzqui finds a haven for the luxury traveler in Peru.
As an international interior designer and style editor for Harper’s Bazaar Interiors, I’ve worked with the world’s top stylists, the most prestigious photographers, and some of the most demanding celebrity clients around the world. However, I’m much more than a designer. I’m a creator, an image-maker. From shooting with the First Lady of Belize to curating my brand in Marrakesh, my works inspire people to live their best life. With an acute sense of aesthetics, my greatest strength is my enthusiasm for the hunt of global inspirations that embody the essence of world style and design.
Just recently, during my creative search through the foothills of the Andes, I sought to experience the sumptuous side of my home country, Peru. A cultural melting pot of European, Asian and indigenous influences, Peru is a diverse destination that, if you haven’t yet, you must experience. Savor the world renowned flavors of the region, find your spiritual side and encounter firsthand a world of protective spirits and ancient legends whilst becoming one with Pachamama (Mother Earth) as I invite you to join my husband and travel partner Daniel Baseggio and I to reestablish my cultural roots during my never-ending hunt for international inspiration.
Day 1 Lima
Arriving to the Peruvian capital of Lima we are whisked away to our first destination, Cusco. This once powerful Incan city is filled to the brim with relics of its outstanding history that I cannot wait to get my hands on. Stunning, colonial buildings and cobblestone streets take your breath away, almost literally… Being at such a high altitude, we feel the Soroche – also known as altitude sickness – so we resort to an infusion of coca leaves to alleviate the symptoms before we are brought to a lower elevation in the Sacred Valley to adjust.
Nestled between Machu Picchu and the city of Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas basks in the shadows of the Andes. No time is wasted as we take to the local villages to experience the day-to-day lives of the vibrant locals. Those who know me know my love for color, especially that of ethnic regions, so it is a must that we stop by and meet the Weaving Ladies of Chinchero. These masters of this textile art hand collect alpaca, vicuña and merino wool before naturally dying it vibrant hues and weaving it into brilliant carpets, ponchos, bedspreads and sweaters, keeping the traditions of Inca weaving alive. The oldest lady is 97 years old and she still weaves to this day, always with a smile, even if it is a toothless one… After sharing their techniques and dressing us in their traditional clothing, we are treated to a private presentation of the Chalanes or Peruvian Paso horse riders. Originating from Peru, the Paso horse is often seen at shows “dancing” to a Marinera, the Peruvian national dance. Surrounded by the snowcapped Andes, the Latin Cowboys ask us to join them in full Chalan regalia to dance alongside their stallions.
This evening, Yampu Tours set us up with a stay at Hacienda Urubamba, a contemporary hacienda-style hotel with luxury casitas looking over the Sacred Valley. The architecture and interiors are visibly inspired by the area’s history with authentic handcrafted woodworks that add to the native allure. Adopting an “earth to table” concept, Hacienda Urubamba has a 10-acre organic farm where you are welcome to pick your own produce. Carbon-free crops such as quinoa, corn and a variety of potatoes are planted and harvested with hand tools and oxen to further reduce their carbon footprint. At our private Casita overlooking the Sahuasiray mountain range, we watch the sun set on a glorious day in anticipation for tomorrow’s adventure to the iconic Machu Picchu.
Urubamba – Machu Picchu
This morning, we’re met bright and early by our private guide, Oscar to take us to the nearby Ollantaytambo train station. What other way to venture to the “City in the Sky” than aboard the luxurious Inca Rail First Class? This leisurely mode of travel allows us to savor the outstanding scenery from the observatory-lounge car as live music is played. Traveling with maximum comfort and space on board, a gourmet menu prepared using organic, Andean ingredients accompanied by a selection of delicious wines only add to the exquisite experience.
Straight off the train we take to the lower ruins of the Lost City of The Incas for a site that leaves us at a loss for words. High up among the clouds you feel like you’re experiencing a literal Heaven on Earth that words will never explain. Tucked deep in the cloud forest with 12 private acres of natural beauty, Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel is where our travel experts have us staying for the evening. An Andean village with terraced hills decked with waterfalls, stone pathways, and adobe casitas, Machu Picchu Pueblo warmly invites us in to rest before our early morning wakeup call.
Machu Picchu – Cusco
We wake just before sunrise, strapping on our boots and meeting our guide. Starting the hike with zero visibility, we reach our destination as the cloudy skies open to reveal the glorious lost city of Machu Picchu. We’ve reached our destination. Words cannot express what a mystical experience this has already been, only three days in. Aversely, we begin our descent, making our way back to board the train to Ollantaytambo where our private chauffeur whisks us away to Belmond Nazarenas in Cusco. Once a convent, this exquisite hotel’s 17th-century architecture features astounding, original Inca stonework with breathtaking scenery of the city from our private balconies. Soaking in the atmosphere in the courtyard of the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, we top the evening off by savoring some of the finest Peruvian cuisine at the sophisticated MAP Café.
On our final full day here in Cusco we delighted with an otherworldly experience, one on one, with one of the most enlightened shamans in Peru. Alongside our guide, we follow our shaman to a secluded Inca ruin for an intimate coca leaf reading. Using the plant as a method of communication to the celestial world the shaman gives us guidance for future endeavors. Through breathing and meditation, negative energy is released as the shaman cleanses the air, wafting smoke of incenses and other secret ingredients around us with a purification ritual. Following the cleanse, a soul retrieval ceremony is done as the shaman goes into a higher state of consciousness to help retrieve any parts of the spirit that may have left due to distressing life experiences. We finish off with a sacred traditional offering to ‘Pachamama’ (Mother Earth) as a thank you.
With a new sense of mindfulness, we enjoy lunch at Calle del Medio Restaurant where Jordi Puig, one of Peru’s top interior designers, brings together a wonderfully warm ambiance using recycled materials within the decorations. Revered chef, Jaime Pesaque, whips up the freshest of local ingredients to tie in with the wonderful, authentically Peruvian, experience. Today, however, we will become the master chefs! With a private cooking class, we will be making the national dish of Peru, ceviche. Much like Japanese Sashimi, ceviche consists of raw fish that is marinated in freshly squeezed lime juice with slices of onions, a hint of chili peppers and a dash of salt and pepper. This treasure, all its own, will certainly awaken our sleepy palates! With the melt-in-your-mouth sea bass contrasting with the acidic lime juice and lively chili peppers, nearly every sense is tingling.
From lunch, we’re off to the nearby Pisac Market where indigenous Quechua communities come together from the highlands to buy and sell goods. The colors, textures, scents, and sounds all come together harmoniously here as we peruse the lively stalls covered in intricate weavings, ornate jewelry and alpaca clothing galore. For our final meal, we meet at the second floor of an old colonial house at La Cicciolina Restaurant. The ambiance here is of foodies and wine lovers who know the place and their favorite pairings. With walls drenched in a deep wine-red coloring, crisp white tablecloths, leather seats and bold paintings surrounding the room, we are in store for an epic dining experience.
With full stomachs we spend our final evening at one of the most unique, historic, and divine hotels in Cusco, the Belmond Hotel Monasterio. With history as a former monastery, the protected national monument is set on the main square. The restored colonial hotel’s interior is decorated with Cusco’s finest collection of 18th Century religious art in the common areas and within the boutique rooms.
Cusco – Lima
Our final day has already arrived. As we are met by our chauffeur, we bid farewell to our fantastic guide, Oscar, and all the amazingly accommodating people we have met during our luxurious Peru adventure. As the Quecha people say, huq kutikama – See you soon, Peru. You and your people will forever inspire me like no other.
The Style Hunter : Luigi IRAUZQUI
Creative Direction: Daniel IRAUZQUI Baseggio
Photography: Edward Bolivar Sanchez
Tour Operator : Yampu Tours
Accommodations: Hacienda Urubamba, Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Palacio Nazarenas Monasterio Hotel B
Restaurants: Wayra Ranch, Calle del Medio Restaurant, La Valeriana Bake & Shop Hacienda Orihuela, MAP Café restaurant, La Cicciolina restaurant
Tour Company: Yampu Tours
Luigi IRAUZQUI Interiors
CASAVECCHIA Design Group
President | Creative Director