“Quixotic 1866 castle overlooking Rio from the heart of Santa Teresa, converted into a laidback 12-room hotel and artists’ forum”
The owners’ local knowledge and great taste has enabled them to source fabulous vintage furniture from backstreet antique shops and flea markets. This means the mirrors, darkwood antique wardrobes, bedside tables, chests of drawers and lamps in the rooms are as unique as the artwork on the walls (provided as a gift by artists who have held exhibitions in the hall). This homely, artisan feel is further enhanced by colourful and varied patchwork quilts made to order in Minas Gerais, the vast gold-producing state in Brazil’s interior. Bathrooms are simple with basic toiletries and showers rather than tubs, though they have lovely antique mirrors and lamps.
In our opinion, it's worth splashing out on first-floor Mangueira or Palmeira, the Suites Deluxe in the main house, as the views through their original French windows are breathtaking and they are the only rooms with air con. Bougainville and Bamboo, both Master Suites, are also on the first floor and so benefit from the wonderfully high ceilings and stronger breezes. There are a further 2 Suites Deluxe (Abacate and Jabuticaba) which we're yet to see. They're set in an outhouse building in the garden and look like idyllic love-nests.
We'd also recommend modest Goiabeira, a Triple Room on the ground floor. What it lacks in terms of high ceilings, it makes up for with its calming pale blue décor and sense of space. This room or neighbouring Cactus (also a Triple Room) are ideal if you're bringing a small child, as they have a queensize double bed and an additional single bed. Just be aware that their bathrooms are across the hall rather than ensuite.
The Mini Apartment, Limoeiro, is aimed at families but we found it more befitting for revellers, as it's a little cramped and the stairs leading up to the 2 bedrooms are awkward. It would be fun and good value for 4 friends prepared to give up their privacy for Carnaval or other festivities.
The garden-facing Suite on the ground floor was full (usually a good sign!) so we couldn't have a peek inside. Samambaia is said to be the prettiest and most popular.
To our delight, breakfast was better quality than at most of Rio’s top-end hotels and pousadas, and served on the sail-covered terrace with its fantastic views. The fruit selection is extensive, much of it sourced from the garden and varying each day to include mango, pineapple, star fruit, jabuticaba (Brazilian grapes), strawberries and different types of melon. Eggs are cooked however you please; salami, ham, cheeses and jams are all on offer; and there's a choice of fresh brown and white bread. Sweet bread, Bolo de Fuba cake and cheese bread are also provided. Most importantly, the coffee, freshly ground each morning, is excellent (perversely a rarity in Rio).
For lunch and dinner, the hotel offers a fixed menu based on Brazilian dishes - meat or fish, salads, rice and beans. Alternatively, there's a handful of fairly good restaurants and bars within walking distance. Jasmin Manga, the closest, is excellent for lunch (salads, bruschettas, quiches, pizzas and desserts). The homemade soup at Simplismente is delicious, but many of the other dishes are too salty. Asia, a British-run outfit at 256 Rua Almirante Alexandrino, is the swankiest restaurant in the neighbourhood.
Espirito Santa was our preferred restaurant in central Santa Teresa in terms of atmosphere and value for money. The neighbouring seafood restaurant Sobrenatural was disappointing (more lashings of salt), but the sushi bar Sansushi, close by on the same street, is good. Aprazivel, a short taxi drive away at Santa Teresa's uppermost peak, is undoubtedly our favourite restaurant in Rio - amazing views, a romantic atmosphere, delicious local cuisine and good value.
For drinks we liked low-key Bar do Gomez. Just around the corner from Castelinho38 is Bar do Miniero, touted by many travel guides as being ‘the meeting point’ for Santa Teresa’s resident artists, though when we visited we found it filled with Lonely Planet readers eagerly seeking these mythically bohemian locals but finding only each other.
Children are welcome at Castelinho38.
The Triple Rooms (Cactus and Goiabeira) are best suited to families, although those with young kids may prefer the Mini Apartment (but note there are steep stairs leading to its sleeping areas). All bathrooms have showers only (no tubs) and for some rooms the bathrooms are located across the hall.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Baby cots and highchairs can be provided.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Children's meals can be cooked on request.