My comments about this hotel are organized into different sections below. I hope this is helpful!
This was a fine hotel in a pretty good part of town. It was only a short walk down the street to a square with lots of little shops and restaurants. The city’s main square, Plaza de Armas, it a few blocks farther, and we never made it that far. If I could do it over, I might have opted for a hotel that was close to Plaza de Armas. I was originally interested in the Royal Inn Hotel, which is closer to Plaza de Armas, but it was sold out. Later I read somewhere that being closer to that square can be a problem because of late-night music. I don’t know how true that is.
In any case, we ended up at the Casa Andina Classic. The room was clean and large. Unfortunately, we ended up with 3 twin beds again. That happened all over Peru. We were a party of 3 (my wife, myself, and our son), and for a lot of our hotels I booked a “triple room”, which sounds appropriate for 3 people. However, a “triple room” always turned out to be 3 twin beds. I never expected that, since I have never seen a room with 3 twin beds anywhere else in the world!
I’m not sure how you get a room with two double beds, or a double and a twin. Perhaps we should have booked a “double room”. But that might not have been right either because we were told that some of the rooms at the hotel had 2 twin beds. Is a “double room” two twin beds? I honestly don’t know the right answer. At least by booking a “triple room” we knew there would be room for 3 people to sleep, even if it did mean a night without spooning.
The hotel had laundry service, which worked out very well. We gave them the clothes in the morning, and they were ready that evening when we returned. The clothes were sparkling clean and nicely folded. And more importantly, nothing was missing. Since we stayed here at about the middle-point of the trip, it was a perfect time to get all our clothes washed for the second half of the trip. While it worked out very well from a logistical standpoint, it wasn’t cheap. Washing a week’s worth of clothes for 3 people cost about $150. If you have time, it would be much cheaper (and more adventurous) to find a local self-service coin-operated laundry. I don’t how practical that would be.
My biggest complaint about the hotel was a lack of water pressure. At one point, there literally wasn’t enough water dripping out of the showerhead to actually take a shower. At other times, the pressure was OK. Perhaps it depends on how many people are showering at the same time. There was also some sort of banging noise at 5:30 AM both mornings we were there. I don’t know if these issues were normal for this hotel, or just a fluke. Don’t be concerned unless you see other reviews complaining about the same issues. In any case, I wouldn’t consider either of these things to be show-stoppers. Any place you stay can have minor idiosyncrasies.
As you know, Puno is at 12,500 feet, which is exceptionally high. I strongly recommend working your way up to this altitude slowly over many days. It worked out fine for us, and we didn’t have any problems with this altitude. However, we did see people in the lobby hooked up to oxygen, and they didn’t look very happy. I would take this altitude issue pretty seriously to avoid spoiling part of your trip.
My personal altitude-strategy recommendation would be to travel in this order: Lima, Machu Picchu (Aguas Calientes), Sacred Valley (e.g. Urubamba, Ollantaytambo, Pisac), Cusco, Puno. By the time you get to Puno, you will have had time to adapt slowly to the altitude.
Note that you can get from Lima to Aguas Calientes in one day. You will need to pass through Cusco and the Sacred Valley to get there, but you won’t be at those higher altitudes long enough to have a problem (as long as you are just quickly passing through). Just catch the train from Cusco to Aguas Calientes shortly after your flight from Lima arrives in Cusco, and you should be fine.
We almost did it right. We only went down as far as Urubamba on the day we left Lima, and my wife did have a bit of an issue with the altitude that night. I’m sure if we had gone all the way down to Aguas Calientes that same day, she would have been fine.
In my opinion, if you go straight from Lima to Puno, you might end up like those unhappy people connected to oxygen in y hotel lobby. Even though you might not actually have a problem (some people have no issues), why take the risk? Vacation days are too precious.
GETTING HERE / LEAVING HERE:
Our tour company, Peru For Less, booked us on a Turismo-Mer tour bus from Cusco to Puno. We could have also taken the train from Cusco to Puno, but the tour company said we would have a much more interesting day if we took the bus. The bus trip includes a few stops at some tourist attractions along the way. Since we took the bus, I don’t really know what the train would have been like. However, I do know that the bus ride (and the attractions along the way), were enjoyable, and I think this approach was probably better than the train.
If you do take a Turismo-Mer (or similar) tour bus, try to sit in the very last row so you can recline your seat all the way back without smashing anyone behind you.
If money hadn’t been an issue, I actually would have preferred to fly from Cusco. In my opinion, the sights between Cusco and Puno can be skipped without missing much.
With respect to leaving Puno to go to your next destination, we flew out of Juliaca airport. That worked out fine, but I strongly suggest allowing plenty of extra time! It was a 45 minute drive, and the airport wasn’t the best example of Western technology and efficiency, if you know what I mean.
In general, if you are taking a domestic flight (from Juliaca or anywhere else), you should either check-in online the day before, or get to the airport extremely early. We discovered that in Peru, pre-arranged reserved seats don’t mean anything. I had confirmed all our flights and seats before we left home, but on every domestic flight we took in Peru, those pre-arranged (and confirmed) seats meant absolutely nothing. Not once did we end up in the seats I had “reserved”, and we often didn’t even get to sit together.
The worst situation was when we were leaving Juliaca. We were told that the flight was over-sold, and they didn’t have seats for us. I guess everyone else checked-in online the day before, and even though we got to the airport quite early, we were one of the last ones to check in. Fortunately, after I blew a gasket and ranted at the poor man behind the counter for about 10 minutes, they were able to get us on the plane somehow. But that was too close for comfort. Check-in online!
Here’s another alternative. Later in the trip, we traveled in the 1st class (lower) seats on a Cruz del Sur double-decker bus. That was such an awesome method of travel that I was truly disappointed when we arrived at our destination and I had to get off. (Seriously! I’m not kidding!) If I were to do the trip over, I would look into doing more of our traveling in those buses. I think even an overnight trip would have been fine. The seats were better than airline first class, and the service was great.
Cruz del Sur does go to Puno, so that might be an excellent option for getting to/from Puno. One tip: you need to pre-book your meals as part of your reservation. They only have enough meals on the bus for the people who specifically booked it ahead of time. We “didn’t get the memo” on that one, and ended up without lunch.
We were there in June, which is their winter, and we were up at 12,500 feet. I was prepared for it to be freezing cold. However, during the day it was actually very nice. A very light jacket was plenty of warmth, and I didn’t even wear that the whole time. In the evening, when we were walking around Puno, it got pretty cold. It was the only time on the whole trip where I wore my new Alpaca wool hat. I don’t know if this was typical weather, but that’s what it was like when we were there. I can imagine that if it’s windy and stormy, it probably gets much colder during the day.
We came to Puno just to see the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. I booked a private full-day tour out on the lake. If I knew then what I know now, I would have done it much differently!!
Booking a private tour on a private boat was definitely the right approach, so I got that part right. But I would have changed the day’s itinerary. The standard full-day tour takes you to the floating islands in the early morning, and then spends the rest of the day making the long, long, long, long trip out to Taquile island and back. (Taquile is a regular non-floating island much farther out in the lake.)
The floating islands were great!! They are actually pretty close to Puno, so the trip out there was short. We went to one island where we got a demonstration about the construction of the island and an overview of how they live. Then we took a private reed boat from one island to another, and we looked around there briefly. Overall, the floating island experience was awesome! Unfortunately, even though we had a private guide, we were being rushed. We ended up leaving the floating islands before I had done everything I wanted to do.
Later I figured out that the reason we were rushed was because the trip to Taquile island was so long. The island is halfway to Bolivia! (Really!) Perhaps the trip out there would have been more practical in a super-fast speed boat, but our private tour boat was agonizingly slow. It took hours to get to Taquile and hours to get back. I had been given the heads-up that the boat trip was long, so we brought our books to read. What they didn’t tell me ahead of time was that the floating islands are close to Puno, and we were going to spend many, many hours going to a regular island!
At Taquile island, we hiked way up to the village at the top of the island for lunch, and then hiked down the other side to where our boat picked us up for the trip back. Climbing a very large hill at 12,500 feet is a bit of a challenge. The hike, lunch, and village at Taquile were interesting, but NOT worth the long trip.
Doing this standard itinerary was a huge mistake, and it was one of my biggest regrets about the trip. If I could do it over, I would book a private tour on a private boat for a half-day, and I would only do the floating islands. I would absolutely, positively skip Taquile. This alternate itinerary would allow a lot more time to explore all around the floating islands without being rushed, and we would get back to Puno in the early afternoon for other activities. Taquile was an absolute waste, and the trip out there unnecessarily cut short our time at the floating islands.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.