“Elegant French-owned B&B in bohemian Santa Teresa, with a pool plus views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay”
The bedrooms are light, fresh and uncluttered. Original features (polished wooden floors, shutters) hint at the past, while French fabrics add a contemporary touch. Beds are kingsize or twin, and bathrooms have soft robes, slippers and O Boticario toiletries. All rooms have air conditioning, minibars, satellite TV and internet access.
Enter Mama Ruisa's hallway on the first floor and you look up to a stained-glass ceiling. From here you access our 2 favourite rooms: Jean Cocteau and Josephine Baker, both Junior Suites. Each has floor-to-ceiling shutters opening onto a wraparound veranda, where you can sit in rocking chairs and gaze over Guanabara Bay.
In Jean Cocteau expect clean stripes, a walk-in wardrobe and a signed drawing by the eponymous artist and writer. The real draw is the bathroom, decked out in fading marble with period taps and mirrored walls - you can tell it once belonged to the flamboyant lady of the house. This is the only room with a bath (with jets), but it also has a separate shower. Josephine Baker takes its name from the 1920s French singer, famous for risqué dresses and playing the field. It's a huge room with floral black and white fabric, a few momentos of days gone by (vinyl records, vintage magazines) and plenty of cupboard space.
Also on the first floor is Colette (named after French novelist Sidonie Gabrielle Colette), another Junior Suite. It doesn't have a terrace but it does have a great view of Sugarloaf Mountain, along with crisp blue and white floral fabrics, old photos and a modern ensuite with a rain shower.
Downstairs are more rooms on the same level as the garden - they're slightly darker but a good size. The Carmen Miranda Junior Suite is adorned with books, pictures and magazines featuring the Brazilian star, while Deluxe Room Pop has the liveliest colours of all, with a contemporary flowered throw and sofa. It also has a little veranda.
There are also 3 further Deluxe Rooms - Amazonia, Lapa and Mascaras - which have a more Brazilian feel than the others, with indigenous prints and earthy tones. The Artist Atelier is a useful family room with 2 double bedrooms.
After some late nights we were kindly woken by gentle tinkling outside our shutters. Breakfast was being laid out on our veranda. Served on fine blue and white china, it was a great start to the day: a choice of natural teas, fruit salad, yoghurt, cereal, pastries, jam and coffee. There's also ham and cheese (but don't expect much choice on the cheese front in Brazil: you get 2 types - white and yellow!). If you have a room without a terrace, you eat by the pool or around the table in the living room.
If you want lunch or dinner at Mama Ruisa, ask the day before so that Jean Michel can buy the freshest ingredients. A typical 3-course meal might include tomato soup, grilled chicken or dorado fish with salad. And if you're around during the afternoon, don't miss tea and cake - the gooey chocolate brownies served with ice cream are heavenly.
Santa Teresa's handful of restaurants and bars (which buzz with locals at weekends) are just around the corner. Stroll to the highly renowned Bar do Mineiro, which serves simple fare from the region of Minas Gerais along with cold beers and strong caipirinhas. It has a friendly atmosphere and is usually packed at key feeding times - particularly the Saturday afternoon feijoada blow-out. For fab views and something more refined - rustic Brazilian cooking with a French twist - head to Aprazivel, a 5-minute cab ride up the hill and super-romantic (the best tables are on the veranda and in the pretty garden looking out to Guanabara Bay). For live Brazilian music, check out nearby bar Sobrenatural on Rua Almirante Alexandrino.
Jean Michel can also recommend and book restaurants elsewhere in Rio - he's pretty knowledgeable on what's hot and what's not.
Children of all ages are welcome. Mascaras is ideal for families as it has 2 bedrooms, though both are doubles. Other Deluxe Rooms can fit a baby cot (free), and Junior Suites can accommodate a cot and an extra bed (additional charge).
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available, Family Rooms
An English-speaking nanny can be arranged for babysitting.
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking