Pousada Casa de Paraty

Paraty, Rio de Janeiro Environs, Brazil Book from R$333

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Beautifully restored dwelling turned 3-suite guesthouse gem, in the heart of the historical centre
Paraty was one of the highlights of our time in Brazil. Such a beautiful little town with whitewashed heritage houses trimmed in bright colours, and ancient cobbled streets washed by high tides, all framed by dazzling turquoise seas and a clutch of tropical islands. Jô Pellozo came here 35 years ago, restoring and selling antiques, before becoming a realtor. So she was perfectly qualified to transform this corner property into a unique home for her and her son, Uirá: one filled with light, garnished with copper, and decorated with vintage pieces from Minas Gerais and Paraty.

A friend suggested she open up the house to paying guests and in 2010 the 3-suite Pousada Casa de Paraty opened. Jô's expert eye and exquisite taste showcases a relaxed home for guests who appreciate the comforts of rain showers, high-thread-count linens on blissful beds, bountiful breakfasts, and white-on-white uncluttered interiors. Step through the blue front door into the living room, which flows out to the patio with its plunge pool, pergola and tropical plantings. Venture out into Atlantic rainforest to slide down waterfalls, visit cachaça distilleries, hire a boat to sublime beaches and swim in turquoise seas. We still wish to be in Paraty.

Highs

  • Close to all amenities and sights of the historical centre as well as the pier for boat trips to the islands and beaches, yet on one of the quieter streets so the Pousada itself is very tranquil
  • Great value for money
  • The Pousada is flexibly set up so suits couples and families alike
  • Uirá (pronounced 'weera') and Jô bend over backwards to provide insider tips, suggest sights and assist with bookings
  • Lovely details include the shutters, Main Suite's balcony, fresh flowers everywhere, and just the right amount of shabby-chic feel; everything is immaculately kept

Lows

  • No meals served other than breakfast so you'll have to eat out, although there are plenty of good dining options on your doorstep. If staying in the Guest House Suite, you get a kitchen for self-catering
  • No suites can be configured as twins
  • Don't expect the full amenities of a hotel as the Pousada provides a more informal experience; that said, we didn't lack any mod cons
  • Book early for High Season, as the Pousada only has 3 suites so books up quickly

Best time to go

Expect sunshine year round although you may well get tropical showers. March, April, August and September are considered to have the nicest weather. The rainy season is November - March, with January and February being particularly wet with the odd thunderstorm. However, Carnaval is at the end of February. Nights are cooler June - September. The International Literary Festival is the first week in July.

Our top tips

  • Take a boat trip around the fabulous coastline and admire the Atlantic forest tumbling down to turquoise seas. We went as far as Mamangua and lazed on a beach all to ourselves for 4 hours until the boat came back.
  • Note that every month when the tide is high and the moon is full, seawater will flood the cobbled streets nearest the port and harbour through special culverts in the sea wall, so bring sensible shoes.
  • Great for...

    Cheap & Chic
    Family
    Great Outdoors
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Guesthouse
    • 3
    • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Plunge Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Concierge Service
    • Bicycles Available
    Room:

    Rooms

    The Pousada's welcoming ambiance creates a comfortable at-home experience. All 3 suites and common areas retain a wonderful lightness of touch; Jô's exquisite taste has curated rooms which follow both form and function, with pops of colour in armchairs and a few pictures - there's no extraneous bric-a-brac. From wide floorboards to copper sinks, all-white walls to beautiful antique side tables, you know you're in the presence of a master interior decorator.

    Her original bedroom is now the Main Suite, up a little staircase from the living room. Here you'll find a kingsize and single bed, cobalt and scarlet armchairs, a long ensuite bathroom with rain shower and tub, and a small balcony which overlooks the patio and rooftops and banana fronds towards the sea. There's space for an extra bed, too.

    The Garden Suite is the smallest (and not really abiding by the definition of a suite) with a queensize bed and charming shower bathroom. Just outside is the patio and pergola where breakfast is served; your alfresco living room.

    Across the patio is the 2-storey Guest House Suite. This is a spacious affair benefiting from shuttered windows and a private entrance to the street. A small kitchen has fridge, hob, copper sink and microwave; there's a dining table and armchairs to the other. A bathroom with a sunken tub plus rain shower leads off the main room. Upstairs, the bedroom has a kingsize bed, a day/single bed and views over rooftops towards the sea from its dormer windows. There's plenty of space for an extra bed, too.

    Local flowers are placed in every suite, all linens are 400-thread count and beach towels are provided. You also get a fan and air-con (much needed in the summer). Bathrooms have robes, hairdryer and complimentary toiletries. You'll find a basket by your door to hold outdoor shoes, which aren't permitted in the Pousada; change into the Havaianas you get for booking through i-escape.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Beach towels
    • Central heating
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Hairdryer
    • Honesty bar
    • Internet access
    • Iron
    • Plunge pool
    • Satellite tv
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    Breakfast is the only meal available - but what a feast! Served at the time of your choosing in your suite or out on the patio, you get trays of fresh tropical fruit (sometimes served as a fruit salad), ham, cream cheese, a basket of freshly baked breads, yoghurt, squeezed OJ, granola, condiments such as local honey and jam, eggs cooked to order and plentiful tea and coffee.

    For other meals, if staying in the Guest House Suite, you'll find enough cooking utensils to rustle up a meal on the hob; there's also cutlery, pots and pans, microwave and a kettle. There's a grocery store just a block away. For guests in the other suites who want to prepare a quick sandwich or make a cup of tea, just ask and you can use the kitchen in the main house.

    Dining out is a treat in Paraty. Stroll around the cobbled streets to find a cuisine of your fancy - the Pousada provides a map of the town with restaurants highlighted. We dined at Margarita Cafe one night - delicious cocktails and great specials. We also really liked the innovative fusion cooking at the more pricey Banana de Terra, which gives a contemporary twist to local ingredients especially seafood - think fish with bananas or tapioca puree or their own take on traditional moqueca. At the other end of the scale, there are a number of Thai and pizza takeaways. Paraty is home of cachaça; there's even a shop in town selling nothing else so be sure to imbibe.

    For lunch, you'll most likely be out on an expedition, so try the eateries by the beach or near the waterfalls. We had a memorable fish and chips plus beans and salad lunch in a little shack by the water, which we were taken to by our skipper on our boat trip. If in town, try Galeria do Engenaho or Pizzeria de Cidade.

    Features include:

    • Breakfast
    • Cooking classes
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Room service
    • Vegetarian menu
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Stroll around enchanting Paraty, taking in its restored colonial architecture, boutiques and shops, art galleries, 18th- and 19th-century churches, and colourful boats

    • Take an unforgettable boat trip around the coastline. Uirá can assist in booking, and even came along the pier to choose the right boat for us. We loved the Dona Geralda schooner ably skippered by Cléberson and Daniela. Either potter about the local islands, clamber up to the fort, try your hand at fishing, visit a jungle-swamped old cachaça distillery, or laze on a (nearly empty) beach

    • Good hiking is possible in the Atlantic rainforest along the coast

    • Hire a car (and driver if you want) and head up to the Tobogã da Penha waterfalls where you can swim in fresh-water pools or slide in the stream down granite slopes; dry off at the nearby cafe and visit the Engenho D'Ouro cachaça museum and distillery

    • Paraty Tours, just a few streets away, can arrange riding, sailing and kayaking (summer only), scuba diving, jeep tours, mountain biking and surfing expeditions

    • Paraty is renowned for its Contadores de Histórias puppet theatre, whose expressive puppets have a big following; shows Wednesdays and Saturdays 9pm (not aimed at children) and have a September festive

    • Birding is good along this coast; look for hummingbirds, black vultures, herons in the creek opposite the Pousada, and caracaras

    • Walk up to Forte Defensor, an 18-century construction, which still has British-made cannons atop its ruined walls. The Powder House has been turned into a small museum about the local indigenous peoples who still live in Paraty Mirim and inhabit the Atlantic rainforest hereabouts

    • For yoga, massages and treatments, visit Shambhala spa about a 3-minute walk away; a masseur can also come to your room, see Rates

    • There are some tennis courts nearby, and there's a cooking school in the parallel street

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Boat trips
    • Cooking classes
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Kayaking
    • Mountain biking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Nightlife
    • Private guided tours
    • Puppet theatre
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Surfing
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Yoga

    Kids

    Children are made very welcome by Uirá and Jô. Extra beds are available, but you'll need to bring a travel cot for babies. There are plenty of family friendly activities in and around Paraty, from boat trips to excursions to waterfalls. As the historical centre of the town is pedestrianised, it is safe to wander around, although the ancient cobbles wouldn't be the ideal surface for pushchairs to navigate. There's a shop for groceries and supplies on the corner about 20m away, and bigger ones 500m away; the fruit market and pharmacies are 300m distant.

    Best for:

    Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Families are usually housed in the spacious 2-storey Guest House Suite, which is slightly separate from the main house and has its own small kitchen/living room. It has a kingsized bed, single bed, and space for an extra bed so can sleep 4. It is best accessed by the back door, which takes one out to the lane leading down to the sea. The Main Suite can also sleep 4 in a kingsize bed, single bed and extra bed.

    Babysitting:

    On request - note that the 'sitter is unlikely to speak much (if any) English.

    Baby equipment:

    A complimentary basket of toiletries for babies and toddlers is provided on arrival. If you're staying more than 2 nights, you are also given a complimentary bowl of tropical fruit.

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Splash around in the plunge pool

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Boat trips are always fun for the whole family
    • Kids will love the nearby beaches, those at Trinidade are pretty safe with shallow inlets, and rocks for clambering over, plus a river heading through the sand to the sea to build dams on
    • The waterfalls and river inland are fun for swimming in too
    • If you're here for a festival or for Carnaval, the colourful sights and costumes are mesmerising, and many kids would love to dress up!

    Families Should Know:

    The plunge pool is unfenced, the local streets flood at high tide when there's a full moon (though temporary bridges and ramps are provided), and Rua Fresca where cars are parked is close to the water's edge so keep an eye on small ones, and of course if you're taking a boat trip. Sometimes mozzies appear but plug-in repellent is provided. Note that the water is unsafe to drink from the tap, a water dispenser is provided on the patio.

    Distances:

    • Airport: Around 4 hours
    • Hospital: 10 minutes
    • Nearest shop: 2 minutes
    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    8/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    10/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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