Casa Marques

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro City, Brazil Book from Book from £132 per night

Uber-cool converted colonial mansion in the hills of Santa Teresa, with killer views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay
Nestled up in the hills of artsy Santa Teresa, this beautiful mansion has been thoughtfully converted by its Franco-Brazilian owners, Louis and Jeannine. Today it is a stylish boutique hotel, complete with a hip rooftop bar and pool; backing onto lush rainforest, it'd be easy to forget you were in Rio if it weren’t for the unbelievable postcard views of the city. Inside, urban Brazilian culture has been embraced, with contemporary graffiti and local artwork adorning the walls. Trendy yet timeless furniture features prominently, too - works by Brazilian design masters such as Sergio Rodrigues and Carlos Motta are pieces of art in themselves. And to top it off, all 12 spacious rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows offering breathtaking views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay.

A lovely breakfast is served either in the cool dining room, surrounded by curios collected by the owners over the years, or alfresco on the rooftop terrace. The small kitchen also opens for lunch, dishing up simple light meals. At night, friendly staff can suggest excellent local bars and restaurants, reserve tables and book taxis. All in all, a stylish yet easy base for the city.

Highs

  • Gorgeous rooftop pool, terrace and bar with panoramic views
  • A quiet location away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Rio
  • Ideal for anyone with a keen interest in design, and welcoming to couples and families alike
  • Relaxed, unpretentious but very knowledgeable staff
  • Great activities to help you get under the skin of this bewitching city: samba and Capoeira, favela tours and cookery classes

Lows

  • You’ll need cheap taxis to get around but this is not unusual in Rio, safety wise
  • No dinner served but staff can recommend restaurants or order in food for you. During the week, the rooftop bar is not always open in the evening
  • The pool is fairly small, more for cooling off in than doing lengths
  • Although families are welcome there are no baby cots, and extra beds are only for 0-4 year olds; if you're bringing an older child you'll need 2 rooms. Note, there are no twin rooms

Best time to go

We visited in April and found the weather just right - warm but not too hot and not too humid. Rain showers are more common at this time of year but they are usually short-lived. December - February offers the hottest weather, Carnival and biggest parties. July - September are the coolest months but also the driest. The hotel is open all year; stay over a weekend for the best of the local nightlife.

Our top tips

For the largest selection of bric-a-brac in Rio, visit the Praça Quinze antiques market on a Saturday morning. It’s set in historical Centro, under a noisy flyover. For better-quality antiques, head to Lapa on the first Saturday of the month.

The hotel can be be tricky to find, so ask for written Portuguese-language directions to show taxi drivers

Great for...

City Style
Family
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 12
  • Breakfast and lunches; restaurants nearby
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

The 12 rooms (called suites) are split between the original house and an adjoining modern annexe, linked by a series of architectural bridges and stairways. Decor is stylishly minimalist, including designer chairs and artisanal rugs. Gorgeous modern bathrooms come with rain showers and Granado toiletries (a Brazilian environmentally friendly brand). Huge windows invite you to gaze at the views from the comfort of your kingsize bed, and all the modern-day essentials are in place: Nespressos, Satellite TV and Bluetooth music systems.

The Master Suites are vast, with incredible panoramic views of Guanabara Bay and Christ the Redeemer; one even has that view from its bathtub. Deluxe Suites are slightly smaller, but still roomy, uncluttered and airy, with views of Sugarloaf Mountain. Standard Suites are the smallest, but nothing else has been comprised on - you get views of Guanabara Bay, the same styling and the same comfortable bed.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

For breakfast, expect a fine array of homemade fare to start: granolas, pastries and breads (don't miss the guava bread), along with freshly squeezed juices. You're then offered a la carte hot options - we particularly enjoyed the tapiocas with mushroom and Minas cheese.

The lunchtime menu, best eaten on the rooftop terrace, is a small selection of light dishes, salads and sandwiches, made with local ingredients. Our Club sandwich and quinoa, French bean, carrot and pesto salad were both very good (especially when washed down with a lunchtime Caipirinha!).

For drinks and dinners, Santa Teresa has plenty of options. Nearby Bar do Mineiro has a simple menu of local dishes, good cocktails and beers. Aprazivel, famous for its views, has a refined menu, but it's not cheap. Our favourite haunt was Bistro Boutique - a clothes shop by day, and small restaurant by night. Just a handful of tables sit in amongst the clothes rails; the food is simple but very good and there's a great atmosphere. They often have a live band on.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Coffee maker
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Relax by the rooftop heated infinity pool, with a drink from the bar and the best views around
  • Explore the boho Santa Teresa neighbourhood: its rickety old tram, cobbled streets, colourful colonial houses, handful of arty shops, and authentic bars and restaurants
  • Visit the 38m-high Christ the Redeemer statue at the summit of Mount Corcovado
  • Staff can book samba or Capoeira classes, a favela tour or cookery class with local guides/teachers; relaxing massages are also available
  • Head down to Lapa (a 10-minute taxi ride) for the best nightlife in Rio. Try Rio Scenarium, Carioca da Gema and Estrela da Lapa for live samba and choro music and dancing until the early hours
  • Rio's famous beaches (Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon) are a 20-minute taxi ride away
  • Admire the local artwork, designer furniture and owners' curios dotted around the hotel

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Dance lessons
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Families are welcomed, and the hotel has equipment to borrow and a small games room with books and toys. It's best suited to babies and older children, as there are a lot of stairs, slippery floors, raised walkways and breakables.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Deluxe Suites and Master Suites can each fit a rollaway bed for a child aged 0-4; if you want a baby cot you'll need to bring your own travel cot. For children aged 5+ you'll need to book a second room.

Baby equipment:

Stair gates and night lights

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Food served all day (until 6pm)

Kids Activities on site:

A games room with books and toys

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes' drive (Rio International)
  • Shop: 10 minutes' drive
  • Hospital: 15 minutes' drive
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

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Rates for Casa Marques