A Guide to Brazilian Boutique Hotels by the Water
Brazilians love to head to the beach (it’s Summer in the Southern Hemisphere!). We made a quick list with suggestions of fabulous places to explore.
After living in France and traveling the world, Tetê Etrusco chose Brazil to finally open her own luxury boutique hotel in 2008. In the iconic colonial town of Paraty, she restored a beautiful historic building, turning it into one of the most sought-after destinations for travelers looking for a unique and bespoke experience. Besides its colonial charm and cobblestone streets, Paraty is famous for hosting the most important literary party in the country, FLIP. Book lovers gather from around the world – lodging must be booked years in advance! But for those fortunate enough to stay, Casa Turquesa is the perfect mix of luxurious comfort and authentic local experience.
The inspiration for Uxuá was to create a home-hotel. Eleven houses are integrated to the main square, or Quadrado. The colonial era houses were gently redesigned by Dutch designer Wilbert Das, who strove to keep all the original features, adding only a touch of comfort and modern innovation. Each house is unique, and filled with native arts and crafts -- including furniture designed by Das with local artisans. The most talked about features are the open air bathrooms, bringing the tropical seaside climate inside the houses themselves. Trancoso is famous as a place to see and be seen, and is the perfect destination if you want to enjoy long days at the beach, and longer nights out. There are some of Brazil’s best restaurants and shops. And always a party going on, somewhere, somehow…!
Part of the exclusive Relais & Châteaux family, Txai Resort is already one of the most celebrated in Brazil. Opened 14 years ago, the resort has 38 stilted bungalows, spread out over an area of 92 acres, each built in the native style with piaçava roofs. A stopover on the migrating routes of dolphins and whales, the beach of Itacarezinho is situated in one of the most biodiverse areas in the country. To make your stay even more pleasant, they have a legendary spa — with a view to the ocean and a lengthy menu of relaxing therapies.
If you prefer calmer waters for your holiday, Pousada do Toque is located along a tidal beach, in a region filled with natural swimming pools. Alagoas means, literally, the Lagoons. Nature, comfort and delicious food are the highlights of this destination. The hotel has 12 cabins, each with a balcony, private swimming pool, adega, and some of the rooms even have ofurôs -- the Japanese style Jacuzzi. Hotel amenities include a sushi bar, a relaxing library, as well as bikes, kayaks and sail boats for hire, to explore the surrounding beaches. This also happens to be a very popular destination for those who like a party!
Located in Barra de São Miguel, this resort lies in an area of the country blessed with pleasant weather all year long – just 10 degrees south of the Equator. With only 23 suites, this exclusive spot offers a perfect combination of astonishing views, great food and a fancy spa. The experience is intimate and luxurious, but still rooted in native culture and rustic design. There are 5km of nearly empty beaches, while still close enough to the livelier beach-party atmosphere of Praia do Francês. The reefs just offshore help create two swimming options: a calm, crystal clear, swimming pool version of the ocean or more extreme surf just past where the coral reefs end. Make sure to check out the nearby Lagoa do Roteiro and the paradise-like Praia do Gunga.
Alter do Chão is the destination of the moment for Brazilians in the know. Inspired by a small local village, this is the first boutique hotel in the Amazonian state of Pará. Opened in 2016, Vila de Alter was recently declared by the Guardian newspaper to be the prettiest freshwater beach in the world. There are only 6 bungalows, each suspended above the water, and decorated with artisanal crafts made by locals. During the day you can enjoy eco-tours (the region is home to the gigantic tree, Samauma), fishing and other activities in the jungle. Above all, simplicity and exceptional service remain the priorities for the two owners, Andrea Aymar and Regina Santos.
Rio Grande do Norte is the most easterly point in Brazil. A famous kite- and windsurfing destination, it is known as a place “where the winds meet.” One hour from the capital Natal, this beach is also a great spot for those looking to learn these extreme sports! Mi Secreto has only 19 rooms and is filled with chaise longues, swings and quiet spots for reading. The hotel has easy access to the beach and also rents equipment for all of the watersports. It is very close to the town’s main street, where there are plenty of good restaurants. Less of a party atmosphere, though the sporty crowd still guarantees a lively energy. Just be aware most things close early at night, so everyone can be on the water first thing in the morning!