When you see pictures of Lima, you are usually shown some fantastic photos of downtown and central Lima, with tons of historical colonial style buildings. But you should also note that besides the colonial style, there are other stylistic gems throughout. As Peru and Lima grew and fell with the economic times over the last century, the city experienced rapid development and construction in spurts. Besides the Colonial style, you can also find Art Deco, Art Nouveu and Baroque styles throughout the central area.
As the “Roaring 20s” took off in the USA, so too, did it extend into Lima. More and more people were beginning to come to Lima from the highlands and other parts of the country looking for work and better wages. This increase in population and business required more accommodation to be built, which resulted in not just homes, but also hotels. The increased demand of business in Peru meant more people were visiting the city and the country began to have more importance on the world stage. In response, it was decided that a new, modern and grand hotel would be built to house dignitaries and presidents who were visiting the country. Thus, in 1924 the Hotel Bolivar was built. Constructed by the noted Peruvian architect Rafael Marquina, the hotel was built on Plaza San Martín, a stone’s throw away from the Presidential Palace, various government buildings and the Cathedral – all located on the central Plaza de Armas.
During the 40s and 50s, the hotel served as the premiere Lima accommodation of choice for Hollywood stars. Big names such as Orson Welles, Ava Gardner and John Wayne stayed here, where they also were introduced to Peru’s famous cocktail – the Pisco Sour. Unfortunately, as time passed and people and business moved out of the area, the central area fell into disrepair and the hotel lost its luster and appeal. Today, however, the central area of Lima is entering a renaissance of sorts, and the Plaza San Martín is once again a vibrant spot, attracting tourists and business alike. The hotel, once one of the top spots for accommodation in Lima and Peru, is now considered a 3 star hotel. And while this is a shame, it also provides a unique opportunity to experience what once was the epitome of luxury at bargain prices. Additionally, the bar next door (Bolivarcito) is renowned for its Pisco Sours, especially its signature, the Catedral. A word of caution: The drinks are strong, and what makes the Catedral so special is that it is a double!