Etnia Pousada & Boutique

Trancoso, Bahia, Brazil Book from

Reviewed by Nikki Tinto
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 8 rooms 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. Its heart is the stylish bar-restaurant: 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.


  • The cool open-air bar-restaurant 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


  • 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...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 8
  • Breakfast (+ light meals on request)
  • Over 14s only
  • 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


Follow the winding woodland path past enticing hammocks strung up between trees and you find 8 themed rooms carefully built to preserve the natural setting. Each presents a different world style depicted by their own fabrics, furnishings and artwork. Tribal has African-inspired art, animal prints and dark wood accents. By contrast Cottage feels more light and airy, with its minimalist décor in pale shades of cream and white and its limewashed woodwork. Goa is hippy dippy India, while Kyoto has a pared-down Japanese style. If you want something with more of a local feel, go for Trancoso with its colourful naïve murals of the village.

For a bit more space and a little more money, check into one of the 3 Master Suites, which have sitting areas with room for an extra bed. Mediterranean has a nautical theme with a model wooden boat, 2 double beds and blue and white cushions. Morocco features arched doorways, a wall studded with decorative brass plates, and handwoven rugs. Gypsy is more whimsical, with funky floral fabrics, brightly painted feature walls and a kitsch madonna statue.

Most rooms have four-poster beds romantically draped with mosquito nets (Kyoto has a futon bed); all have crisp white bedlinen from Italy, feather pillows from Sweden and smooth polished concrete floors (you're encouraged to go barefoot in the rooms). We found some of the window and door fittings to be a bit flimsy, but this is a minor quibble. Bathrooms come with large walk-in showers and small indoor gardens. You also get a TV (cable in the Master Suites), a minibar, a phone, air conditioning and a shaded wooden veranda with 2 chairs.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Mosquito net
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Tv


Meals and drinks are served in the funky open-sided bar-restaurant by the pool. Stylish contemporary furnishings, white tablecloths, chilled music and friendly helpful staff make it feel chic yet relaxed. Each table’s place settings are unique, thanks to the owners’ passion for crockery and the seemingly endless collection of table-ware gathered from their travels (Andre trained in ceramics and design in Italy). Everyday it’s changed for something different.

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.

During the day, light snacks and drinks can be ordered from the poolside but in the evening guests usually 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


  • 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
  • Relax with a massage or some watsu water therapy, both available at the hotel's small treatment centre, 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


No children under the age of 14 are permitted. Families with older children should ask for the Morocco or Gypsy Suites, which can accommodate one or 2 extra beds, or the Mediterranean Suite, which has 2 double beds. Babies are occasionally allowed off season.

Kid Friendly:

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