Vila Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro City, Brazil Book from Book from £173 per night

Elegant hilltop haven on a magnificent estate, with bespoke service, beautiful food, and a pool with incomparable views
Through the gates, past the palms, down the drive, to the last private estate in Rio, owned by the Monteiro de Carvalho family. From the modernist 1970s windows of this intimate haven (the most elevated of 4 homes on the estate) the eye sweeps across pool and emerald treetops to Rio, Sugarloaf Mountain and the bay beyond. The setting is breathtaking.

Vila Santa Teresa may be one of the world’s most luxurious small hotels, but it feels like the house of a rather rich friend. The staff, who’ve been with the family for 20 years, treat each guest as an individual. Those who’ve stayed talk of exceptional service - impeccable yet personal, possible because there are only 7 rooms. Fancy a favourite wine to accompany your grilled escalope? There it is waiting, delightfully chilled. From the sink-into sofas to the gleaming glass tables to the massage under the mango tree, there’s perfection in every detail. Breakfast is served on the lawn or at the large table, and cocktails and canapés in the library or by the pool. Dinner - wherever you choose to have it - is divine. And if you don’t fancy negotiating the cobbled streets of Santa Teresa, a charming driver will appear as if by magic.

Highs

  • You’re treated as though the house is your own
  • Impeccable food, with a seasonally changing menu
  • Beyond the Belle Epoque gates is the charming hillside quarter of Santa Teresa, all boho boutiques and bars
  • Despite the fact you're in Rio, the vibe is more ‘luxurious country home’ than ‘luxurious urban hotel’
  • Sublimely relaxing

Lows

  • Prices reflect the high levels of service and luxury
  • A 20-minute taxi ride from Rio's famous beaches
  • No under 16s: this is a romantic grown-up retreat (a high for most!)
  • Only the Master Suite has a bathtub (walk-in showers in the other rooms)

Best time to go

July, August and September are the coolest months, but also the driest. Come in July if you’d like to experience Santa Teresa's Open Arts Festival, when local studios and galleries are open to visitors. From December to February the city is at its most humid, most exciting, and most expensive - thanks to New Year and the Carnival. Weather-wise, April is pretty much perfect.

Our top tips

We'd recommend booking a game of tennis with their wonderful coach - he does not speak much English, but he's great fun, very patient, and a true pro.

If you're here during Carnival (February, and New Year) ask the staff to source and hire costumes for you.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
Honeymoon
Spa
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 7
  • Restaurant and bar open daily
  • Over 16s 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
  • Tennis Court
Room:

Rooms

The 7 bedrooms are light, airy and immaculate, with high ceilings, hardwood floors, fabulous beds, and a peppering of family antiques. Set on the upper floor, they have fabulous views of either the estate and gardens (Deluxe Suites), or the city and sea (Premier Suites and the Master Suite).

Each is named after members of the de Carvalho family (Claudia, Astrid etc) and decor is stylish and serene, with a mix of classic and contemporary furniture. Joaquim has twin daybeds in its sitting room, which can be converted into 2 additional beds.

Bathrooms are spacious and luxurious, with baskets of fluffy white towels and capacious walk-in showers. The Master Suite’s bathroom is a marvel of soft-grey marble, with a romantic Jacuzzi tub for 2.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

There's a seasonally changing menu of predominately Brazilian dishes, created from the best local produce, including vegetables and fruits from their organic garden. Those who’ve stayed talk of “food to die for”: prawns and peach-palm spaghetti; grilled veal paillard; Bahian fish stew; lemon tarts with burnt meringue; cheese puffs (‘pao de queijo’) made from a secret family recipe.

Breakfasts, equally fresh and homemade, are served on white china at the big dining room table; or at tables on the lawn; or in your room. Later, cocktails and canapés can be brought to the pool - a delicious accompaniment to the view - or to the club-like library where leather Chesterfields front a winter fire.

The charming hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa lies just beyond the grounds. Here you’ll find live music and good restaurants around every cobbled corner; wander until you find one you fancy. Prefer to book a restaurant in advance? Staff will happily oblige.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Bask on a snowy lounger by the pool-with-a-view
  • Bounce a few balls around the tennis court then recover with a massage beneath the ancient mango tree or a spa treatment
  • Visit Petropolis, the Imperial City of Brazil, tucked into the hills of the Serra dos Orgaos. Admire the old Summer Palace, walk in the mountains, swim under waterfalls
  • For more secluded beaches than those of Ipanema and Copacabana, head for the white sands and aqua waters of Prainha
  • Chácara do Céu is close, a colonial mansion with incredible views; indoors you can feast your eyes on Picasso, Monet and Dali
  • Raid the designer shops on Rua Prudente de Morais and Rua Visconde de Piraja

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Yoga

Kids

Vila Santa Teresa is a grown ups' retreat.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Vila Santa Teresa is in the bohemian Santa Teresa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

By Air:
International flights to Rio land at Galeão-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport (18km away). Domestic flights arrive at Santos Dumont Domestic Airport (6km away). Click on the links below for more information about airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
Book an airport transfer with the hotel or take a radio taxi - buy a pre-paid voucher at the Transcoopass desk in the arrivals hall.

By Car:
You won't need a car in Rio, but if you want to hire one to explore the surrounding region, see our car rental recommendations.

By Bus:
Brazil's major cities are linked by excellent long-distance bus services. Always travel first class because the difference in fares is nominal, but it means you get air-conditioning, reclining seats and bathroom facilities on board. Services stop at the Novo Rio Rodoviaria terminal downtown; from there you can take a taxi to the hotel.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to Brazil and getting around

Airports:

  • Galeão-Antonio Carlos Jobim International Airport 18.0 km GIG
  • Santos Dumont Domestic Airport 6.0 km SDU

Other:

  • Beach 7.0 km
  • Shops 1.0 km
  • Restaurant 1.0 km

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