“Stylish French-owned B&B in Gávea, a smart hillside neighbourhood with great views of Rio and the statue of Christ”
The house is built into the side of a hill, so you enter on the top floor and tumble down to the pool and terrace. Reception rooms on the ground floor are all open to the elements, with candles in the alcoves, statues of Buddha, and a mirrored salon with smart white sofas. With just 5 elegant bedrooms, each with its own terrace or balcony and décor inspired by travels around the world, it's more home than hotel. You also get the inside track on Rio: owner Jacques and manager Christian are both passionate about Brazil and can point you towards the hottest restaurants, bars and boutiques.
- Cocktails by the pool with a view that’s hard to beat
- Flamboyant interiors to satisfy design aficionados - this was Rio's first boutique B&B and makes a welcome change from the city's bland chain hotels
- Set in a peaceful, leafy district (we spotted monkeys swinging from the trees during our 2014 revisit), yet just a 10-minute drive from fashionable Leblon with its hip restaurants, bars and beach
- Personal service from the knowledgeable and helpful hosts
- A convenient location for visiting the Botanical Gardens and touring Rocinha, Latin America's largest favela (truly illuminating)
- You’ll need taxis to zip you up and down the hill, but they’re not too expensive
- Don't expect all mod cons: there are no TVs, DVD players or minibars, but you do get swish bathrooms, air conditioning and great views
- The garden and pool are fairly small, breakfast is served at a communal table and the atmosphere is intimate, so it's not for those seeking anonymity
- Rooms vary in size and outlook; some are better than others (see our favourites), and some are beginning to look a little tired in places
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique B&B
- Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
There are only 5 rooms here, each with a private terrace or balcony. Don’t come looking for bland, self-replicating rooms with mod cons (there are no TVs, DVD players or minibars); rather, expect an emphasis on design and more than a splash of colour. Bathrooms are stylish too, with funky porcelain sinks (round or square), powerful showers, big mirrors and good-quality Granado toiletries. All rooms have kingsize or queensize beds (some can be set up as twins), plus air conditioning and iPod docks.
Copacabana, our favourite room, has elegant black-and-white striped walls, a mirrored desk with a potted orchid, and arched French windows that lead onto a veranda. White-painted wooden floors and tall shutters make it feel very light and airy. Waking up in your huge bed to the view of the Corcovado is simply stunning.
Recamier is delicately French: big and airy, with light blue walls, a mosquito net draped above an enormous bed, and an elegant chaise-longue to take the strain. It also has a good view of the city from its balcony, and in the bathroom you'll find a tub as well as a shower (unusual in Brazil).
The slightly smaller Shanghai comes in seductive gold, purple and red, with polished dark wood floors and lacquered Chinese tables. Its side terrace has a hammock with views over the Tijuca Forest, and its red bathroom also comes with both a tub and a shower.
Tiffany comes in pretty creams, yellows and blues. Both the bedroom and the shower room have French doors opening onto a crenellated terrace with an excellent view of the Corcovado.
Ganesha, the most petite room, has an Indian feel, mixing vivid pinks, greens and gold. It's located at the back of the house so it doesn't have a view and gets less daylight than the other rooms, but it does have a courtyard and a funky pink bathroom with a jewel-encrusted domed shower.
- Air conditioning
- Cots Available
- Extra beds
- Ipod dock
Breakfast is taken in the open-sided dining room with views over the hills, forest and city. Guests sit on funky white Panton chairs around a large glass and chrome table. You get nicely presented exotic fruits, freshly squeezed juices, strong coffee, cheese with quince jelly, and delicious home-baked croissants.
Other meals are available from noon to 8pm, but if you’d like to eat outside of these hours you can let the kitchen know in advance. At lunchtime you can have salads, sandwiches and pasta dishes; at dinner, the fare is a little more sophisticated. Expect something along the lines of white fish with a passion fruit and Dijon mustard jus, pumpkin risotto, or filet mignon with mushroom sauce and roast potatoes. Tea, coffee and alcoholic drinks - including excellent caipirinhas and batidas - are available whenever you want, so just ask.
For those who want something extra-special, a chef can be summoned with a bit of advance warning to come and whisk up whatever you like. Alternatively, the restaurants of hip Leblon are a 10-minute drive away - Jacques and Christian have plenty of recommendations.
- Communal dining
- Dinner by arrangement
- Drinks on request
- Lunch by arrangement
- The pool here may be small, but it’s a real boon; you can start the morning with a pre-breakfast dip, stay local and lose yourself in a book, or head home after a hectic day in the city and cool off. You’re very private, but quietly social too; you’ll bump into other guests, and toucans and small monkeys come to visit from the forest
- Take your pick of Rio's beaches: Copacabana is 10km away, Ipanema is 5km away and Leblon, the nearest, is a 10-minute hop in a taxi
- Closer to home (a 5-minute drive) are the Botanical Gardens and Tijuca Forest, both great places to lose yourself for a couple of hours
- Take a stroll down the road to the Instituto Moreira Salles, a former private residence with landscaped gardens which now houses 19th- and 20th-century photography, rotating exhibits of contemporary Brazilian artists, and a charming café (open 1-7pm; closed on Mondays)
- If you’d like to tour the nearby favela (Rocinha, the largest shanty town in South America), a guide can be arranged to lead you through
- And if you want to join the locals in worship, you can either head down to the Baroque churches and cathedrals or plump for a football match instead. Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama all play in Rio and you can tour the Maracanã, the biggest stadium in Brazil
- For shopping head to the nearby Gávea Shopping Centre (housing boutiques rather than chain stores), or visit the Fashion Mall in São Conrado for Brazil's best designer labels (a 5-10 minute drive)
- Drivers and guides can be arranged for chauffeured tours of Rio. If you want to venture a little further afield, they can take you to Petropolis, Parati, Búzios or Angra dos Reis
- Rio’s old town and the bohemian hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa are both a 30-minute drive - the latter offers a dose of local colour, colonial houses and simple but vibrant eateries
- Just make sure you get home in time for a quick nap and battery recharge before heading down to Leblon or Lapa for a wild night on the town
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
Children of all ages are welcome, and baby cots (free of charge) and extra beds (small charge for kids aged 5+) can be provided. That said, this is a small, quiet place that's best suited to adults, and the open-sided staircases, sharp edges and delicate decoration make it unsuitable for toddlers.
Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Baby monitors are available on request.
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking