We spent 4 nights at Ninos Hotel in Cuzco and it's a great place if you're looking for something in mid price range ($35 for a room with a bathroom).
The place is close the main square (5 min walk), has a very nice courtyard with a fountain, good and cheap food, and best of all very nice local people working at the hotel. The rooms are very clean, simple (no TVs), but adequate. And all the proceeds go to a great cause. As long as you're not expecting any special comforts you'll be satisfied.
As for Cuzco, it's a beautiful city, but definitely take it easy for the first few days and give your body some time to adjust. I'd also recommend spending at least one night in the Sacred Valley (i.e. in the town of Ollantaytambo)- it's stunning, closer to Machu Picchu, and you'll feel better because of lower altitude.
You go to support the project funded by the hotel.
I guess most people who go to this hotel go to support the 'project', which if you have not read their web site --- you should do so now, it's an incredible story.
However, although we went to support the hotel's orphaned, homeless and poor children, I believe that this web site is to advise travelers what to expect from a hotel, not to be confused with our emotions.
The hotel Ninos 1 (as there are now Ninos 1 and 2), is situated about a five minute walk to the beautiful Plaza De Aramis. It sits on a narrow side street in a poorer (yet safe) part of town.
On arriving at the hotel you face a large wooden gate set into the front of the building. Entrance to the hotel is through a very small door set into this gate.
Once inside, the rooms are on two levels, all set around a small courtyard, where breakfast can be taken at half a dozen tables and there are also half a dozen wooden lounge chairs for reading.
Their is a small restaurant which serves the cheapest sandwiches, breakfast, coffee, beer and wine in any of Peru's tourist areas.
The rooms and bathrooms are very spartan, although I have never stayed in a youth hostel this is how I imagined one would look.
Some of the rooms have bathrooms and some share a communal bathroom and showers.
The beds are fine and the linens are extremely clean.
The staff are very friendly, although you should be aware that I do not believe they are very efficient.
I had two disappointing experiences. The first was an early morning wake up "knock" (no telephones) at 6.00 AM to catch the Vistadome 2 to Machu Picchu, and the booking of a taxi for 6.30 AM for the same.
The person responsible for both these things overslept. Fortunately, I happened to wake and look at my watch at 6.00 and woke my family. The person responsible was still sleeping at 6.20 and I had to wake him. When I asked about the taxi he left the hotel and never returned?
Luckily I was able to stop a taxi in time.
Secondly, I got Amy in reception to call ahead to Machu Picchu to confirm my hotel reservation there. That hotel (Hatuchay Tower) had no record of a booking I had made through Expedia. Although as they had space available, they agreed to confirm a reservation at the price quoted on Expedia. However, they later called back and spoke to Amy to say that they could not honor the Expedia price, and wanted another $60. Amy later admitted that she forgot to give me that message, but only upon my return, after I had the problem of trying to resolve the issue at Machu Picchu.
However, this does not influence my review of the hotel, as I am sure this was an unlucky rare mistake, but just beware if you have early morning flight/trains to catch.
My main concern with recommending this hotel is the noise factor. It is a known fact at this altitude, one of the main problems for the first few days is that you sleep badly. The 40% reduction in oxygen at altitudes over 10,000 feet, whilst it can cause altitude sickness, also
causes sleeping problems (You should read this informative web site which explains the problems that you are going to experience at this altitude)
Because the rooms all face a small courtyard, any noise is magnified, and because many of your fellow hotel guests maybe are either departing at 5.00 AM for the first train, departing for early flights, or returning at 11 PM from the last train back from Machu Picchu, not including any late night revelers, the noise level makes it impossible to get a good nights sleep.
Some of the rooms overlook the street, which we were unfortunate to get for the first night, because the noise level doubles.
We stayed in two different rooms on the second floor. The floors are very old wood both in the rooms and for the outside corridor around the courtyard. People using the communal bathrooms could not help themselves but to make the floorboards creak loudly, their footsteps echoing around the courtyard. And if your are with family or friends (we had a room with three beds for two adults and a teenager) any attempt to quietly go to the bathroom in your room is mission impossible, the floorboards make so much noise.
The price is hard to beat, we paid $48 per night and our room could sleep 4 and included a bathroom/shower (some rooms do not), and as already mentioned, the savings that can be made eating some of your meals in the hotel are enormous.
I hope this lengthy review provides you with all the information to make