“A chic little Franco-Brazilian retreat, elegant but friendly, central but secluded, and worth climbing the cobblestone hill for”
Kitschy keyrings open doors to bedrooms of laid-back luxury, all named after famous Cariocas. In the main house are the Sugarloaf Deluxe rooms, all beautifully arranged with big firm beds and clouds of linen. Most have palm-potted balconies, too - imagine sitting outside and raising a glass to Sugar Loaf Mountain. Madame Sata (legendary drag queen, outlaw and hustler) and Tom Jobim have a partial bay view; Pixinguinha and Villa Lobos overlook the lush courtyard. Rooms in the annexe (where the pool is) come in 3 sizes - Carioca Terrace, Carioca Terrace Junior and Carioca Terrace Deluxe. All have private outdoor spaces with views of Copacabana and Ipanema, and the largest have sofa'd sitting areas.
Every room is different - a mushroom scheme contrasted by red pendant lights, gold paint enhanced by lemon-yellow cushions, 50s-style palm-print wallpaper behind the bed. As for the bathrooms, expect mosaic showers, swathes of glass or polished concrete, and lashings of hot water. If you fancy a soak, request Villa Lobos or one of the Carioca Terrace Deluxes, which have tubs; we particularly like the clawfoot bath in Vinícius de Moraes.
The tropical breakfast, taken at little tables in the courtyard, comes with breads, fruits, homemade cake, homemade jelly and preserves, plus eggs if you’d like them. Not a bad start to the day, and on Sundays brunch is served on the rooftop from noon to an indulgent 7pm - perfect if you need to recover from a night on the town. Light meals (grilled steak, croque monsieur, salade fraîcheur) are also available daily from noon until 7pm, and come evening dinner is served at a long candlelit table with other guests (or in a private corner or your room on request). Produce is the freshest the daily market can offer, and Mediterranean cooking holds sway.
For a change of scene, there are loads of eateries nearby. Fun, friendly and near the beach are Zazá Bistrô Tropical, serving delicious, wholesome food, and the Felice Café, known for its tasty dishes and even tastier ice cream cocktails. You can also treat yourself to energy-boosting smoothies at one of Ipanema's many juice bars.