Rio de Janeiro may be synonymous with beaches, but savvy visitors to the city are increasingly venturing inland and up into the hills of Santa Teresa. This luxury hotel, complete with palm-fringed pool and acclaimed French restaurant, cemented Santa Teresa's reputation as a major tourist destination when it opened in 2009, and gained worldwide attention when Amy Winehouse made her base here during her 2011 tour of Brazil. It's now managed by Sofitel, but maintains a boutique feel. The artsy neighborhood is chock full of handicrafts stores and vintage clothing outlets, and its drinking and dining scene is one of the most celebrated in the city.
A 1904 colonial mansion home is the luxurious setting for this chic boutique spot in Santa Teresa - the go to neighborhood for anybody looking for lodgings that offer a little more charm and panache than your typical chain hotel. There are just five suites at Casa Amarelo, and each has been stylishly appointed, with guests able to relax in comfortable beds and appreciate sweeping vistas from the balconies. The large swimming pool is another plus point, and guests here can enjoy breakfasts of fresh fruit, cakes, breads, cheeses, cold cuts, coffee and freshly squeezed tropical juices served beneath trees filled with monkeys and colorful birds.
Visitors to Rio de Janeiro often overlook the well-to-do residential neighborhood of Gavea in favor of more famous locations such as Ipanema and Copacabana, but anyone who values space, tranquility and proximity to nature over a famous postcode would be well advised to check out some of the accommodation options in this scenic part of the city. While there are fewer hotels here than in the beach neighborhoods, there are a number of stylish options to choose from, with Boutique Hotel Gavea Tropical being among the best of the bunch thanks to its leafy grounds, stylish decor, friendly service and abundant breakfasts.
Copacabana beachfront is not known for its good value lodgings or its personal service, which makes this welcoming guest house such a find. The English-speaking owner Marta Miller offers personal tips and advice to all her guests, and the vast shared living spaces are decked out with artsy aplomb. Rooms are less spectacular, but the guesthouse scores serious brownie points for the large balcony with views right out over Copacabana. It's just steps from the beach, and right at the Western edge, where 'Copa' meets Ipanema, making it handy for restaurants, shopping and nightlife as well as for varying your beach setting.
A seriously stylish accommodation option in the well-heeled, largely residential neighborhood of Gavea, La Maison Boutique Guest House has featured in the pages of style magazines in Brazil and overseas. The setting - a fabulous colonial building set among fruit trees - is stunning in itself, and the French owners have injected a dose of Parisian boudoir indulgence to the interiors, which are nothing if not sensual. Deep red walls and supremely soft beds abound, and the five suites each have large balconies overlooking an inviting swimming pool. For visitors looking to escape the rush and crush of Rio beachfront this is an excellent option, and there are plenty of good drinking and dining options nearby.
Another fine example of Santa Teresa's impressive guest house scene, Casa Cool Beans attracts a mix of young funseekers and older travelers keen to share stories of the road over a few caipirinhas in the leafy garden. Housed in a handsome colonial-era buildings that has been given a funky reworking with colorful paintwork and imaginative decor, Casa Cool Beans is a refreshing alternative to impersonal chain hotels. Ex-pat owners Lance and David pride themselves on their customer service, and the guesthouse is always pristine. The many bars, restaurants and artsy shops of Santa Teresa are close at hand, while the lively Lapa nightlife is just a five minute cab ride away.
Don't let the name put you off - this French-owned boutique hotel between Ipanema and Copacabana is seriously chic. Stylishly, but not stuffily, appointed, each of the suites is named for a famous Carioca (Rio local), with singer/actress Carmen Miranda and Bossa Nova tunesmith Vinicius de Moraes among those being honored. Shared spaces include a smart living room complete with abundant art, travel and fashion books,gorgeous tropical gardens, and a roof terrace with bar, pool, and views out to sea. It's a 10-minute walk to the beaches and Metro, and steep stairs mean this isn't ideal for the frail, but adventurous luxury travelers will love the offbeat location.
A relatively new addition to the ever-increasing boutique hotel scene in the scenic, historic hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa, Quina Azul Boutique enjoys a prime location just a few seconds´ easy stroll from the neighborhood´s main square - Largo de Guimaraes - and the strip of lively bars and excellent restaurants that surrounds it. The location is just part of the charm of this beautiful guest house - the swimming pool, leafy gardens and attention to detail in the indoor and outdoor decor all make this a pleasant option for a stay in Rio. While not right at the top end of the accommodation options, it´s prices compare extremely favorably with many less charming options along the beachfront.
French chic meets Brazilian cool at this super-stylish hillside hideaway in Santa Teresa. The vast colonial mansion sits in verdant gardens complete with large swimming pool, and the French owners have upped the wow factor still further with interiors that have more than a dash of panache. Each of the suites is unique in layout and decor, and the lavish breakfasts served outside under the trees are something to be savored for as long as possible. With a poolside setting this beautiful, you may find yourself spending a lot less time on the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana than you had imagined.
Truly off the beaten tourist track, this hilltop hotel is located in Joatinga - a super-exclusive neighborhood known as the Beverley Hills of Rio. Each of the suites is unique,and all feature luxurious touches such as vast double showers and spacious dressing rooms. Perched on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean and Rio's magnificently verdant mountains, the hotel's infinity pool has views that will truly take your breath away. The hotel is a favorite with the international fashion press, who regularly use it for photo shoots. Almost next door, a tiny beach is so secluded that couples will almost feel they have it to themselves.