Viva Lima

The grand Peruvian capital mixes mega-city modernity with a rich colonial history and globally acclaimed dining, writes Kendall Hill.

By Kendall Hill
Miraflores Park Hotel
This hotel run by the Orient-Express in tourist-friendly Miraflores is one of Lima's top addresses. Wired for business but decked out for pleasure, suites feature bay windows overlooking the city and the Pacific, deep-soaking tubs and deeply comfortable beds. The rooftop horizon pool and chef Toshiro Konishi's fusion Japanese at restaurant Mesa 18 add to the appeal of this address. (The hotel will close in December for a thorough overhaul and reopens in March.) Malecón de la Reserva 1035, Miraflores, +511 610 4000.
Hotel B
A grand corner mansion in century-old belle époque style, Lima's first bona fide boutique hotel is an art-filled, elegant address in newly hip Barranco. Each of the 17 suites is unique - some have freestanding baths, others have tiled balconies and sofas so guests can watch the passing Limeño parade. Vertiginous ceilings, Italian marble and rich timbers are complemented by a modern art collection sure to inspire guests to explore Barranco's numerous galleries. Calle San Martin 301, Barranco, +511 206 0800.
Bohemian Barranco has the city's liveliest evening scene. Nowhere does house parties like Ayahuasca, a multi-level bar in the rambling, Republican-era Berninzon Mansion. Choose a corner to suit your mood - dark and shadowy, white and bright or colourful and ethnic - and settle in for a night of serious socialising. Peruvian politician Carlos Bruce runs Picas bar where the views over the atmospheric Bridge of Sighs come with house music, a sprawling tapas menu and a pisco-rich cocktail list.
Asociación Mario Testino
One of Peru's most famous sons, fashion and celebrity photographer Mario Testino, has opened a museum in a former manor house to showcase his work as well as that of handpicked local artists. Avenida Pedro de Osma 409, Barranco, +511 251 7755.
Monastery of St Francis
The crypts of St Francis inside the (still active) Monastery of San Francisco were Lima's first cemetery and the subterranean vaults are estimated to hold 25,000 corpses. The bones are arranged decoratively in geometric forms and spokes that make ghoulishly fascinating viewing. You can also admire Diego de la Puente's Last Supper frescoes, replete with rôtisserie guinea pigs and indigenous virgins. Plaza San Francisco, +511 426 7377. 
In this chic dining room chefs Virgilio Martinez and Pía León turn out globally acclaimed fusion cuisine. Beautifully presented plates might run to the likes of Paracas scallops with cactus-fruit salt and cushuro seaweed. Calle Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores, +511 242 8515.
Pedro Miguel Schiaffino scours the Amazon for native ingredients that he presents here in elaborate, exciting combinations. Standout dishes include armoured catfish caviar in a broth of smoked pork and delicious giant river snails. Camino Real 101, San Isidro, +511 440 5200.
Astrid y Gastón
As Peruvian culinary exports go, Gastón Acurio is arguably more famous than the potato. At Astrid y Gastón, his first of more than 30 restaurants worldwide, he and his wife, Astrid Gutsche, present a menu that includes staples such as cuy Pekinés, guinea pig prepared with lacquered skin and confit flesh à la Peking duck. 175 Calle Cantuarias, Miraflores, +511 242 5837.