“A slick boutique hotel that's close to buzzy Búzios and its 26 beaches, yet blissfully serene”
There are 5 categories of rooms: Superior, Luxo, Junior Suite (which we're yet to see), Master Suite and Insolito Suite. Kingsize beds are made up with top-quality white sheets and duvets, and the overall theme is calm: a wash of white, with splashes of bright colour or a pleasing pattern that tap into the Brazilian beach vibe... a striped rug here, a floral cushion there.
In keeping with the luxury brief, everything is top-of-the-range. Mattresses are by Sealy; robes by Trussardie; towels are Karsten Zero Twist Towels. You also get a plasma TV, DVD player and free WiFi. The interior designer's eye for detail, down to the delectable toiletries on the stunning glass-tiled sink panels (a different colour in every room) adds to the feeling of privilege. Bathrooms are equally stylish, with rainhead showers.
We liked the Luxo rooms, which have a private slice of garden, but our rooms of choice would be the Insolito Suites (if your budget will stretch to it). These have an outdoor Jacuzzi on the wraparound deck so you get a panoramic sea view as you soak. Inside you'll find a spacious living area, with a cocoon-shaped white leather sofa, a pre-loaded iPod and a smattering of cool art.
The restaurant, A Galeria, is on the rooftop of the hotel. Outdoor tables are set side by side along the decking, with a white parasol to keep the sun off by day. Frangipani adorns each setting and the tables are candlelit at night. If the weather is bad (unlikely) you can also eat inside where the room is dominated by a vast mural on one wall. However, during the day, the atmosphere in here is lacking.
The food is delicious fusion - European with a Brazilian twist. Think catch of the day with sweet banana, salmon and caviar with fennel carpaccio and Sicilian lemon or perhaps foie gras to start; lobster and quinoa risotto, rump of young bull with truffles and mashed olives, or catch of the day with cashew nuts for mains; a trio of chocolate mousses or cupuaçu and vanilla crème brûlée for dessert.
Breakfast is a buffet of meats, cheeses, homemade bread, croissants and cakes, followed by eggs or pancakes cooked to order - the chefs are incredibly friendly. Tea, coffee and 4 types of fresh juice are available to wash it down.
Lunches and snacks are available all day from the bar menu - shrimp tempura, crayfish with gasipaes (palm hearts), bagels or burgers. There's also a range of delicious ice creams (try banana with yoghurt and caramel; coconut; or pineapple sorbet).
Another option, is Insolito's own Eden Beach Lounge, a laid-back restaurant below the hotel. Open from 11am to late, it serves a snacky menu accompanied by live DJ music.
For a bit of variety, there's a wealth of excellent eateries in town. Buziana offers good seafood and salads for very reasonable prices. It's very touristy though, so expect it to be packed. Satyricon is a good Italian; Chez Brigitte is low-key but sophisticated, serving delicious seafood in its little courtyard garden. Bar do Ze is another popular choice, overlooking the Bardot beachfront; try the imaginative risottos (shrimp with brie or asparagus and truffle oil).
If you find the beating heart of Búzios' tourist town a little overcrowded and tacky (as we did), head to the lesser known 'Centro Gastronimico' in Porta da Barra, a 15-minute taxi drive away. One street back from the sea you'll find a cluster of good bars and restaurants, serving all types of cuisine.