Fallen Angel in Cusco
We love daring adventures: tracking wildlife in the jungle, clinging to sheer rock walls, crossing 17,000 ft passes in the shadow of crumbling glaciers. You wouldn’t think that a boutique hotel could rise to our standards of “epic” experiences. But then again, you’ve probably never seen Cusco’s Fallen Angel.
Bold, ostentatious, humorous, psychedelic, flamboyant and fun, you might expect Fallen Angel in Berlin, Paris or Tokyo. But it comes as a TOTAL shock in the 16th century colonial courtyard of a historical casa in Cusco. The moment you step into the restaurant-bar-hotel, you realize you have entered a parallel universe of art and ideas, a cultural statement meant to challenge assumptions about Cusqueña and Peruvian culture: this country is about more than ruins.
“It’s happy hour bitch,” announces a pop portrait of Madonna from above the restaurant. A monstrous metallic angel – the Fallen Angel – sprouting a massive pair of junkyard-welded wings towers above the tables. The surrounding heavens, a sea of disco balls and star lamps. Giant superhero portraits with a definite Tom-of-Finland flair flank the courtyard. Stare up and discover impressively restored colonial balconies. But the visual overload is just beginning.
Every square inch of Fallen Angel is an artistic statement, a visionary blend of class and kitsch you simply can’t ignore. Glass-topped bathtubs filled with fish serve as tables. Baroque cherubs soar through the hallway. The original Madonna sacrilegiously stares back at you from behind the bar, framed in a halo of wine glasses and booze. Anything is possible… even pigs fly across the ceiling. Sit back in a red-light room of hearts. Or lie on a leopard lounge with cat pillows growling at your back. Subtlety is not a virtue at Fallen Angel – and visitors love it for that very reason.
Owner Andrés Zúniga and his partner Carlos love to provoke visitors visually and challenge their aesthetic assumptions. The walls feature Peru’s edgiest painters; the corners highlight the country’s wildest sculpture. Every piece is chosen to elicit a reaction. But their most successful provocation by far is the seductively outlandish design of the hotel rooms, named Passion (red), Freedom (yellow), Strength (blue) and Tranquility (white).
Predictably, Thomas and I stayed in Passion. 😉 The room is done in a palette of reds with large angel paintings over the bed and an orange and purple cow-hide carpet gracing the beautiful wooden floors. The room’s piece-de-resistance is a very cool wall-length peek-a-boo bathroom with faux-Inca walls. (Like we said, subtlety is not the goal here.) Clearly, the room is not designed for shy people; however, they do have a curtain if you need a moment of privacy. The walls are splattered with edgy art and the Gaudiesque ceiling gives the room an interesting organic vibe.
I have to take a second to rave about the bed. This was literally the most comfortable bed we have slept in in years. The memory foam mattress literally hugs you… maybe that’s why they call the room Passion. Having been on the road for years, nothing beats a perfect bed for us. We also loved the Direct TV with the option to switch the programming into English. It’s the kind of room you just don’t want to leave. Super.
The included breakfast is served in either your room or in the restaurant. We chose to feast on our eggs in steak sauce and fruit salad in the restaurant, so our eyes could feast on all the edgy art. Even if you don’t stay in Fallen Angel, the well known restaurant and bar are major Cusco attractions in themselves; many museums don’t have this much to see. And as for art buyers, you can purchase many of the pieces that are on display.
If you are interested in staying at Fallen Angel, it is located in chic Plazoleta Nazarenas next to the Museo de Arte Precolombino. Remember there are only four rooms and they are quite popular, so it is best to book well in advance. For those who aren’t on their way to Cusco, here’s a little selection of shots to show you the town’s craziest boutique hotel.