Land in Lima at midnight… sleep on the airport floor… board next plane at 5 am… arrive in Cusco to an onslaught of cabbies, tour guides, and hostel promoters. 7 hours into our trip, bleary eyed and exhausted, this was the last thing we wanted as a welcoming party. In a hurry we were corralled in a cab and swept away en-route to our accommodations. Our “dangerous” accommodations.
Throughout our cab ride we were bombarded with comments from our driver and his companion on our poor choice in hostels.
“No, there is no hostel called El Tuco…”
“The one that got shut down?”
“You really shouldn’t stay there, it is in a very dangerous part of town…”
“The building might be abandoned, they probably just want to take your money…”
So let me get this straight. We are being driven to an abandoned facility, where we will probably get shanked, and obviously it’s a total give-in that we are getting mugged. Fantastic, thank you.
Upon arrival at El Tuco, the gate for the main entrance is buzzed and out steps Coco, the owner of El Tuco, to greet us. Some spanish is exchanged between the cab driver and Coco. Speaking too quickly for us to grasp what they’re saying, we watch Coco’s face. It echoes the look of someone who basically is getting dished a bowl full of shit and isn’t having it. We immediately liked Coco. We immediately dis-liked our driver. ***As a side note on cab fares (we paid 15 soles from the airport): 6 or so is more in the ballpark to the city center from the airport. In terms of in-city fares… 3 soles is usually good.
El Tuco is a family run hostel and it is obvious from the get go. Living there with his wife Ana Maria and children, he made it very clear to us and everyone that stays there, that we are all now family. We were five steps into El Tuco and already I was wanting to give them a 110% rating on hostel bookers.
We stayed in two different private rooms which were both completely spacious, clean, and welcoming. Top that off with a comfortable bed, a hot shower, and a quiet atmosphere… it was right up our alley. And if for some reason this doesn’t suit you (which I highly doubt) Coco will find a way to make you feel comfortable.
Common / Kitchen area:
There’s Wi-fi and television if you need it, along with a little library of books and always fellow travelers to swap information. The dining area is chalked full of all the kitchen utensils you need for making your meals on a budget along with a fridge to store your perishables. Simple rules… do your own dishes and clean up after yourself. If you want to order in, ask Coco about the best polleria and you won’t be disappointed. Nothing starts or ends a night better than fried chicken and Peruvian fries. And make sure to wash it down with Inca Cola. It’s heaven, seriously.
El Tuco is located just a short stroll from the Plaza de Armas and the Mercado Central de San Pedro. This is nice for two reasons. One being you get to see some other areas on your walk other than hardcore tourist central. The second being it’s quiet and doesn’t attract the party crowd. If that’s your thing (which is totally cool) a hostel more towards the city centre would be better suited for you. I must say though if you do go out, Coco will always be around to let you back in
Atmosphere / Staff:
I could be paying to sleep on a dirt floor but as long as Coco and Ana Maria were around, everything would be fantastic. They will help you with anything you can think of… transportation, directions, food, sights, drinks, and even the best cuy around… El Tuco makes it EASY to explore Cusco and the surrounding areas. The hostel also seems to attract similar travelers and chances are good you will meet some great people there.
Oh and if you are lucky enough to be around when Coco opens up his secret bar you are in for one hell of an amazing Pisco Sour… and also be prepared to lose at foosball, Coco is a baller…
In summary: You won’t find a more chill and helpful hostel in Cusco than El Tuco. Period.