Etnia Pousada & Boutique

Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil Book from Book from £336 per night

Intimate rustic-chic hotel in the heart of Trancoso, one of Brazil's hippest villages, with fabulous unspoilt beaches nearby
Trancoso, on the coast of Southern Bahia, epitomises boho-chic. Lulled by its tranquil charm and beautiful beaches, hippies discovered this fishing village in the 70s. Recent years have seen the arrival of more cosmopolitan visitors, but its low-key character and distinct bohemian feel remains intact. Etnia Pousada's simple contemporary design and natural setting sits well amidst this new vibe. Dotted around woodland, the 7 villas each present a different world style, from Africa to the Orient.

Created by the charismatic owners Andre Zanonato and Corrado Tini (from the world of Italian fashion and design), it gels with immaculate taste, attention to detail and a personal touch. Imagine white cushions, rattan armchairs on pale polished concrete floors, a light breeze wafting through white drapes, and the blue pool before you. There's a certain understated sophistication to Etnia (or Etnia Pousada & Boutique as they have now dubbed it). No wonder it's a favourite for fashion shoots, design journals and people who want something a bit different.

Highs

  • The cool open-air bar serves a delicious breakfast
  • It's affordable and stylish; interesting design features abound
  • The owners are warm, gregarious and highly knowledgeable
  • Trancoso's charming "Quadrado" - a grassy rectangle lined with boutiques and friendly laid-back restaurants - is just round the corner
  • Massages and watsu water therapy are available at the small on-site treatment centre

Lows

  • The hotel will be under renovation until the end of November 2019, with the bar only open for breakfast during this period
  • The beach is a 10-20-minute walk away
  • The shaded forest setting means there are some mosquitoes, but nets are provided in the rooms
  • It requires a bit of effort to get to Trancoso - a domestic flight to Porto Seguro and then a taxi-ride or a bus and ferry (it's best combined with a stay in Rio or Salvador)

Best time to go

Come at any time of year: temperatures vary little from month to month and it's warm all year round, with average highs hovering around 80-90F. The months from June to September bring slightly cooler evenings and April to July is the wettest season, though it can rain at any time.

Our top tips

Getting to Trancoso can be a bit of a trek and there are lots of beaches to explore down the coast, so we recommend a stay of at least 3 nights. It's best combined with a stay in Rio or Salvador to make the most of your time in Brazil.

Great for...

Beach
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Breakfast only
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Villa Ibo

Rooms

Follow the winding woodland path past enticing hammocks strung up between trees and you find a clutch of villas carefully built to preserve the natural setting. Each presents a different world style depicted by their own fabrics, furnishings and artwork.

Since our visit, Etnia has transformed its hotel into 7 Villas: Ibó, Alafiá, Ojulé, Ebatí, Bibalé, Afín and Oriré. These names came from Ioruba language, meaning a sacred place, home and temple to relax in. Each one contains a large kitchen, a living room, a dining room, a laundry room, kingsize or queensize beds and a view to a tropical garden. Perfect for families, couples, or group of friends wanting hotel service with an added sense of autonomy.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast and drinks are served in the funky open-sided bar by the pool.

Breakfast itself is a tour de force, with endless little dishes constantly being laid out on the bar to tempt you. There’s sufficient food to last you all day. You can expect the usual juices, fruit salad, yoghurt, granola, ham, cheese and eggs, but there's lots more too. We loved the fried bananas, the tapioca pancakes filled with ricotta, the French toast with cinnamon, the warm pan de quejo, the homemade madeira and chocolate cakes, and the cookies hot from the oven. It was one of the best breakfasts we've had in Brazil.

In the evening, guests dine out. There are several good restaurants in the village. We recommend Cacau, which offers Bahian cooking with an oriental twist (try the passion seafood salad with garlic bread, or the fish with saffron, white wine, mash and kale), and Capim Santo, which has delicious grilled fish dishes and a candlelit garden. Both are on the Quadrado, a 5-10-minute walk from the hotel.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Villa Alafia
Activity:

Activities

  • Soak up Trancoso's atmosphere. Its historic centre is the Quadrado - a large grassy rectangle dominated at one end by a simple white colonial church overlooking the cliffs to the ocean. Instead of traffic, you'll find horses grazing in the shade of trees and locals playing football and practising capoeira, with candles and torches providing street lighting in the evening. Lining the Quadrado are colourful one-storey dwellings; once fishermen's houses, they've been turned into interesting shops, galleries and intimate restaurants. Although Brazil's super fashionable and famous now own holiday villas here, smiling locals still form the backbone of the community, guarding its heritage and laid-back vibe
  • Go shopping. It’s remarkable that in this simple setting you'll find some of the very best clothes in all of Brazil. Better still, as the shops don’t open until 4pm, day trippers are discouraged. Surrounding the grassy square, you'll find a host of chi-chi boutiques selling hot Brazilian labels rather than global designer names. Don't miss Rosa Cha (for colourful bikinis and wraps), Richard's (for men's casual wear), Osklen (for men's T-shirts) and of course Etnia's own store, which sells Osklen, Jo de Mer, jewellery by Syomara Crespi and a selection of natural cosmetics
  • Head to the beach. Trancoso has some of the best beaches in Brazil, some within walking distance (10-20 minutes away), some worth a drive to (up to 2 hours away). Itaporoca, Curuipe and Espelho (20km away) are all highly recommended
  • There is a gym just in front the hotel which offers good discounts for Etnia guests
  • Relax with a variety of massages (think Tuina, Ayurvedic, hot stone, reiki) available on offer in your room, then take a dip in the pool or have a snooze in one of the hammocks strung up in the woodland

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Families are welcome.

Family friendly accommodation:

Villas Alafiá, Ibó, Oriré and Afín are the most spacious options to accommodate families.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Etnia Pousada is located in the village of Trancoso, just south of Porto Seguro in the Brazilian state of Bahia. It's a 45-minute drive from Porto Seguro airport.

By Air:
Porto Seguro (36km away) is the nearest airport. There are a few direct charter flights from Portugal to Porto Seguro, but as yet no direct scheduled flights from the UK. Most guests take a domestic hop from São Paulo, Salvador (in Bahia) or Rio de Janeiro.

From the Airport:
The hotel offers transfers from Porto Seguro airport - please enquire when booking. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or hire a car (we recommend the latter if you want to explore some of the beaches beyond Trancoso). The 60km drive is on a paved road and takes about 45 minutes.

By Bus and Ferry:
If you're feeling a bit more adventurous, you can take a short bus or taxi ride from the airport to the ferry point in Porto Seguro, which crosses to Arraial d'Ajuda. The ferry (which takes pedestrians and cars) leaves every 15-30 minutes and takes about 10 minutes to cross the Buranhém river. From Arraial d'Ajuda you can take a taxi for the last 13km.

By Car:
If you are interested in hiring a car, please see our car rental recommendations. Avoid driving at night if you can due to the pot-holes and badly signposted roads. Secure parking is available at the hotel.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Brazil and getting around

Airports:

  • Porto Seguro 36.0 km BPS

Other:

  • Beach 1.5 km
  • Shops 0.5 km
  • Restaurant 0.5 km

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