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Casa de Wow!!!
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Reviewed August 6, 2012

When we began planning our trip to Peru, a post on Facebook led to a friend who'd been in the Sacred Valley on multiple occasions. This friend highly recommended spending time in Ollantaytambo, the last living Incan village. She made an introduction to Winn Mallard of Casa de Wow. Winn is an American woman who moved to Peru. She and her Quechua partner, Wow, run the sweetest possible lodging establishment in Ollantaytambo. The house is ancient but also quite modern, with great stonework, tremendous light, bedframes made of trees, wifi, laundry service, deliciously hot pounding showers and sustainably purified drinking water.

I don't even know where to begin in describing our time at Casa de Wow. It was so much more than just a place to stay. It was more than a home away from home. As an American, it was incredibly useful to have another American to facilitate our interaction with the Quechuas community. In fact, it was critical in allowing us to have a decidedly more in-depth experience than most tourists are able to access. We are Earth Spiritualists and Winn arranged guided treks with local shamans to accommodate our interests in history, culture, nature and spirituality. I'm sure we could have stayed for a month without running out of mesmerizing people, places and things to experience!

We stayed at Casa de Wow both before and after our Inca Trail/Machu Picchu voyage. Once we got to Ollantaytambo and immediately fell in love with it, we decided to extend our stay for an extra couple of nights after we returned from the trail. Casa de Wow is a popular place during high tourist season. In order to be able to accommodate us, Wow, Winn and their community of friends pulled together while we were gone to prep and paint a room and complete work on a fabulous new bed frame made from a forked tree. They literally sped up their schedule and made a room for us, describing it as their own version of the Inca Trail in terms of it being a work marathon. Obviously, everyone cannot get that sort of treatment, but we felt very blessed, honored and humbled to be the recipients of such extreme hospitality.

Traditional Peruvian houses seem to be very open and light filled. This is accomplished by building them around a central space which is often open to the outdoors. Casa de Wow is no exception. There is a central "hallway" with a stone floor that is open and connected to the 3rd floor covered rooftop deck via circular staircase. The small deck offers jaw-dropping views of some of the most impressive temples in the Incan Empire since Casa de Wow happens to be on the relevant side of the ancient town. Most of the first and second floor rooms have windows to the outside but also windows that open onto the common area. The second floor rooms have skylights. The light permeates everything and lends a vibrancy that belies the tranquility of the ancient town. The ceiling light fixtures are made by Wow. Each room has a fantastic Wow-made bed piled high with thick, heavy traditional Alpaca blankets. Peruvian houses don't have heat and it gets chilly at night, but these beds are a snuggly experience which I dubbed "compression sleeping". Cusco is a loud and bustling place. Ollantaytambo has a lively square but is otherwise quite peaceful. Casa de Wow is a lovely place to actually sleep. I awoke each morning with a mountainside view that included the Temple of the Condor. I don't mean I could crane my neck and see it from the window. I mean I could open my eyes and see it from my pillow. The location of this place is beyond incredible!

Bathroom facilities in Peru can be quite amusing. Casa de Wow has clean bathrooms with all of the amenities that we take for granted in the US - toilet seats, clean finished floors, that highly useful flushing function, lights, sinks, mirrors, hot showers, towels - plus Peruvian character. Like everywhere in Peru, there is a basket for used toilet tissue and the sink only has cold water. Unless Casa de Wow is the first place you go in Peru, you will be very appreciative of the bathrooms by the time you get there! After the "squatters" and other crude facilities that we used on the Inca Trail and in various eating and drinking establishments, the bathrooms at Casa de Wow seemed like heaven! I actually wish my shower at home could rival the one I used there.

The kitchen is open for guest use and breakfast is served daily for the guests. The breakfasts include made-to-order eggs, fresh warm local bread, organic toppings, various cereals and traditional coca and mint teas. We ate breakfast around the table each day with people from across the planet. We encountered other guests who were also drummers and had impromptu drum circles on two mornings of our stay using Wow's hand-made local drums. Another common area - the sala - has copious deep cushy seating and lots of throw blankets to ward off any possible chill. There is a modern flat-screen TV and sound system and movies often play in the evening for anyone's enjoyment. Peru can be a bit dusty and Casa de Wow is cleaned thoroughly each day so you always feel comfortable.

Winn can, of course, recommend fabulous local shopping and dining options to guests. We toured the ruins/temples on both sides of town without a guide (at our option), and also undertook two treks to other spectacular temples at more remote sites with Winn's fantastic guides, including Wow. The treks we did were profound experiences and Winn managed their scheduling and order with incredible mastery. She knows the physical and psychological demands of each trek and did not put us into situations that were beyond our comfort and safety level at that time. Our pre-trail trek prepared us to have a successful Inca Trail experience and she waited for the trail toughen us up for our most extreme trek. Doing these in the reverse order would have been a disaster. Winn made it all happen for us in a good way and our eternal gratitude goes out to her.

If you want more than the average tourist in terms of an authentic Sacred Valley experience, you should try to make reservations at Casa de Wow. It tends to be a magnet for flexible, interesting people because Winn and Wow are extremely charismatic in a super relaxed and comfortable way. My daughter is 18 and she had an absolutely fantastic experience as well. I highly recommend Casa de Wow if you would describe yourself as eclectic. If you have mobility impairment, make sure you let them know so you aren't booked into a room that you cannot access. If you want high luxury, look elsewhere. If you seek adventure, enchantment and a base of operation with all of the comforts and conveniences of home, this is definitely your place. It is a very rare lodging establishment that can feed your heart the way Winn and Wow do.

Room Tip: Make reservations early!!!
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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1  Thank JenTroutOz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed August 6, 2012

Really wonderful place to stay....Winn made us breakfast in the morning, and out the window were the ruins we visited earlier...bed and room with attached bath were incredibly comfortable...Ollantaytambo is a nice little town, a favorite of the Sacred Valley, and Casa de Wow!!! is a favorite in Peru.

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with friends
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Thank 25Stefan25
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2012

Where do I start with this review? Casa de Wow saved our trip and our sanity!

Casa de Wow is a small hostal run by a couple, Winn and Wow.  Its located up a cobblestone road walking distance from the main plaza.  The casa faces the Temple of the Sun with views from some guest rooms, the kitchen, and the too level vista.  The place has 6 guest rooms (I think) - some with private bath and some with shared.  There is a kitchen downstairs with ammenities available if you want to cook, and hot water for tea available anytime.  Drink the coca tea (with a pinch of mint) for altitude. It really helps.

We stayed in a matrimonial room with private bath on the second floor.  The bed was firm and comfortable.  We had a great nights sleep.  The bathroom was small, but had hot showers - yeah!  It gets pretty cool at night in Peru, or at least when we were there, but we stayed nice and warm under the covers. We felt bad about walking around at night or early in the morning because the floors are creaky, but we didn't really wake to others moving around so it was probably fine.

Breakfast was served in the morning in the kitchen - eggs and bread, coffee, tea, etc.  (insert name) is great and cooks fresh eggs for you when you come downstairs.  Everyone staying in the hostal seems to congregate at breakfast - there is certainly a feeling of community.  Everyone shares stories and advice.  Wow plays drums and had a little drum circle with some other guests when we were there.

Be sure to check out the vista from the top level!  Take some coca tea with you.

Now - the reason this place saved our trip... The short version is we had trouble getting our train tickets and Machu Picchu entrance tickets due to changes that allow people to purchase online.  After not sleeping essentially for 2 nights due to travel delays, overnight flights, and sleeping in airports, I was being consumed by the negative energy of travel companies hustling us to buy their "last 2 tickets".  Winn was the calm that helped us figure out the options.  We ended up taking a gamble and heading to Aguascalientes Calientes without certainty that we would be able to see MP.  Everything worked out in the long run, although it was quite an adventure and we would've loved to have more time.  That's what travel delays can do!

Thanks again Winn and Wow - we can't tell you how much staying with y'all meant to us!

My blog:
http://viaperspective.com/blog/?cat=24

  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled with family
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Thank TexasM313
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 28, 2012

We arrived to Ollantaytambo and were lugging our suitcases up hill over the breathtakingly beautiful street on our way to Casa de Wow, when we were met by Winn who lifted my suitcase and carried it for me, leading us to this charming, artsy hostel! The room was large, quiet and decor was artsy.

Their service was beyond compare. Our emails inquires got prompt attention, which was not the case with many of the other hostels. Winn and "Wow' were the most gracious hosts, provided for all of our needs and able to recommend a romantic and delicious place to eat. Definitely one of best memories of our trip. Can't wait to go back!

Room Tip: Our upstairs room was quiet and close to the roof terrace where you could see the ruins. You will have to climb the steep, iron spiral staircase to get there, Winn carried my suitcase up for me
  • Stayed: July 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Loreleiheydt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 29, 2012

This is an adorable little hostal in one of the most adorable little towns on earth. The owner/manager left us feeling warm and cared for, and had perfect suggestions to meet our needs for how to spend our time in town. This is more than just a comfortable place to stay, though. This is an opportunity to connect with some really special people committed to living their lives in harmony with local indigenous values in a really accessible way. I only wish I had more time to experience more of this. You feel the love when you walk in the door.

  • Stayed: June 2012, traveled as a couple
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Thank Zachary B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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