Casa Turquesa

Paraty, Rio de Janeiro Environs, Brazil Book from

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A serene and contemporary guesthouse with light, colourful rooms and a central location in one of Brazil's most charming towns
The colonial town of Paraty is one of our favourite towns in Brazil: full of history and stunningly preserved, with uneven cobbled streets, colourfully painted houses, pretty churches and a rich artistic vibe. Set midway between Rio and São Paulo, it’s a coastal port with lushly forested mountains as a backdrop and golden beaches within easy distance. At times it’s alive with the infectious spirit of Brazilian carnivals or its famous literary festival; at other times it’s bewitchingly laid-back. It's a place to meander, admire the architecture and linger over meals.

But until recently, there was nowhere really decent to stay. Then Casa Turquesa opened its Portuguese-blue doors and everything changed. Inside, a haven of calm, cleanliness and care; only 9 rooms wrapped around a leafy courtyard and deck-lined plunge pool. A library of art books; a colour scheme of snowy white and vibrant brights. Sao Paolo-born owner Teresa spent 5 years perfecting her hotel, applying interior design secrets gleaned during many years in France. It's been a true labour of love.

Highs

  • A colonial building with a funky facelift
  • It's in a great location near the port, so ideally placed for the famous Full Moon Flood and annual Bloco da Lama mud festival
  • Beautiful rooms with immaculate linens and homely touches
  • Hiking through tropical rainforest to hidden waterfalls, snorkelling in crystal clear waters, swimming with dolphins - there's a wealth of activities on your doorstep
  • We left feeling refreshed and revitalised, fully appreciative of why Casa Turquesa was elected ‘Pousada of 2009’ by Guia Quatro Rodas, Brazil’s most revered hotel guide

Lows

  • It’s not cheap but it’s unique in Paraty, where mediocre places abound
  • The hotel is kept so admirably clean and tidy - no mean feat given the muddiness of the surrounding streets - that the more laid-back visitor may feel obliged to tip-toe around a little
  • There’s no restaurant, but eating out here is part of the experience
  • Paraty's drains are as old as the architecture, so at low tide you may get an unpleasant whiff
  • Strict cancellation policy

Best time to go

Sunny weather is the norm from the end of March to November (though it can be quite cool at night from June to September). The rainy season is November to March, with January and February being especially wet. Due to its dense vegetation and mountain ranges, the coastline between Rio and São Paulo has a typically tropical climate. In the rainy season, it's hotter, more humid and frequent afternoon showers cool down the summer heat. There are sea breezes throughout the year.

Christmas, New Year, January, Carnival, Easter and the International Literary Festival (usually July) are high season and you will need to book well ahead.

Our top tips

Bring a skirt or shorts if you're coming for the Full Moon flood (the hotel will provide galoshes), and make sure you have comfy shoes for coping with the cobbled streets. You'll also need plenty of mosquito repellent and sun cream - it gets extremely hot here.

Great for...

Beach
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Breakfast only (+ restaurants nearby)
  • Over 14s only
  • Open all year
  • Plunge Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Luxury Suite (Green Room)

Rooms

No expense or attention to detail has been spared making the gorgeous guestrooms and their four-poster beds as conducive to a good night’s sleep as possible.

Each of the 9 suites is named after a different colour: pink, white, turquoise and so on. The paintwork on the walls, doors and shutters is impeccable. Finely varnished hardwood flooring runs throughout and the décor is a blend of snowy white and the suite's namesake shade.

There are 2 categories, but all are gorgeous and by Parati standards things are positively luxurious. The Luxury Suites are more than adequate, with top-quality queen beds; discreetly-placed plasma TVs and sheets of Egyptian cotton. However, if budget allows and romance dictates the Master Suites are fantastic. Expect spacious rooms with kingsize beds, white sofas, Jacuzzi tubs and Juliet balconies overlooking the bay.

Homely touches prevent it from being clichéd - rattan chairs, striped rugs, small oil paintings (some of them ‘Art Naïf’ works of Francisco, the manager), simple brass lamps - and it's this level of detail that really impresses. Each suite is different but quality is a staple. Teresa even sourced her mosquito nets from Bahia; cushions and runners are handstitched.

Ensuite bathrooms have walk-in shower cubicles, little wicker baskets full of the Amazonian brand Granado toiletries, and thick towelling dressing gowns. The intensive power showers are an invigorating highlight.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Plunge pool
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is either served in your room (you can fill out a form selecting what you want the night before) or in the guest lounge, a vibrant room with zesty leather sofas offsetting the exposed stone walls. A large round table is set with blue and white china; guests can eat communally or take their plate to a sofa or outside. The food is pretty simple - fruit salad, fresh bread and jams - but the coffee is excellent, the juice is freshly squeezed and you get little Portuguese custard tarts to finish.

Snacky tapas can be ordered throughout the day - perfect if you're lazing by the plunge pool or reading in the library. Tea, coffee and freshly baked cakes and pastries are served free of charge in the lounge at 5pm.

For a proper lunch or dinner head into town. Paraty has some excellent eateries but there are also lots of overpriced tourist traps so choose carefully to avoid these. We'd recommend Thai Brasil, right next to Casa Turquesa (serving a most unusual but tasty Pad Thai), Pipo’s (Punta Di vino) on the corner of Praca Matriz for Italian food - delicious pizzas and pastas - plus live music on the weekends and a buzzy atmosphere year-round, and Sabor do Mar, which is the place to go for excellent seafood. Banana da Terra is very cool, with delicious fusion food, but it's quite expensive so note this before you go. Bartolemei is Argentine in flavour - wonderful picanha filled with roquefort and great empanadas. Ask to eat in the garden.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander around Paraty: this quaint colonial town was built up during the 17th century as a shipping point for the gold mined in Minas Gerais, and is amazingly unspoilt. Its colonial architecture, emblematic of the 17th-century gold rush, is wonderful, hence Parati's listing as a UNESCO site. Meander through the cobbled streets and you'll find pretty coloured houses, art galleries, artisan shops and quirky cafes. Street music and artists will keep you entertained; linger over a coffee and people-watch

  • Come around Full Moon and you'll experience the famous flooding phenomenon: tides rise and water pours through the historic district, creating a mini Venice for a few hours. The hotel will provide you with galoshes for this eventuality!

  • Visit the 4 churches. Capela de Santa Rita was built in 1722 and was used by white nobility and freemen; the rustic Igreja de Nossa Senhora was used by the African slaves; Capela de Nossa Senhora das Dores acted as the church for rich nobility; and Igreja Matriz Nossa Senhora do Remédios, the largest church, was funded by a local woman but never finished

  • The Casa da Cultura (House of Culture) is also well worth your time, housing a permanent exhibition on local history and culture. Photos and videos illustrate the lives of citizens from every social standing, and art house films are also sometimes screened here

  • There are numerous festivals throughout the year, the most famous one being FLIP - the international literary festival - in July. Other high times include Festival da Pinga (the Cachaça Festival) in August, the Festival of the Holy Ghost, celebrated 50 days after Easter Sunday, and the spectacular Bloco da Lama mud festival, coinciding with Carnival in February

  • The beautifully lush bay of Ilha Grande (in which Parati sits) is dotted with tropical islands. Take a boat trip and stop off at secluded bays to snorkel and sunbathe; Ilha dos Meros has the best diving conditions

  • Hit the beaches - regular boats go from the nearby port. Meio and Trinidade are postcard perfect; Fora is a hub of activity, lined with bars and restauants; and Cachadaço's rock formations form a vast pool of water in which you can swim with the fish - a natural aquarium!

  • Further afield (25 minutes), you'll find the stunning Praia Fazenda beach - a 4km stretch of white sand - and Picinguaba, a lovely fishing village village and pousada, one of our favourites

  • Paraty is surrounded by national parks. Head inland to hike through the Serra da Bocaina National Park and see its prehistoric cave paintings and waterfalls. On the way home call in at an alembic to watch the traditional process of making 'pinga' (Brazilian firewater). Tasting obligatory!

  • Hike a section of the Caminho de Ouro ('Gold Trail'), which slaves once carried gold along. Local guides will walk with you and explain the history as you go

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Fishing
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Only guests over the age of 14 are accepted.

Family friendly accommodation:

Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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