At first glance, the accommodation scene in Rio de Janeiro appears uninspiring, to say the least. Bar a few notable exceptions such as the sleek Fasano Rio and enduringly glamorous Copacabana Palace, lodgings near the beach tend to be both overpriced and lacking in charm, with many offering boxy rooms in high-rise apartment blocks for prices that would buy true luxury in many other major cities in the world.
Beyond the major tourist hot spots, however, Rio has some real treasures in the form of its independently-owned guest houses and boutique hotels. An excellent case in point is the French-owned La Maison Boutique Guest House in the leafy, upper middle class suburb of Gavea.
La Maison Boutique Guest House combines French chic with tropical exuberance — Photo courtesy of La Maison Boutique Guest House
Considerably off the beaten track - the hotel will provide directions to hand to the taxi driver - this unique spot combines French chic with tropical exuberance. It's set amid lush gardens with terrific views of the Christ statue and across the mountains and jungle of this most jaw-droppingly beautiful of cities.
Stepping into the guest house, guests will feel as though they are in a private residence, with a luxuriously decorated lounge - complete with a vast bird cage with tweeting inhabitants - and a pool set amid tropical vegetation, helping to create a sense that one has stepped into the world of Brazilian high society.
It's a cab ride to the beaches, restaurants and nightlife, but meals can be prepared on request, and served in a resplendent dining room or in the comfort of your own room. Prices compare favorably with the more anonymous accommodations of the beach zone, and this is a one-of-a-kind spot that feels like a real hidden treasure.