A Bohemian Urban Retreat at Santa Teresa Hotel [Rio de Janeiro]

There are neighborhoods that are iconic in certain cities: Bowery in NYC, Montmartre in Paris and Santa Teresa in Rio. Those locations have a certain uniqueness that is unmatched and can’t be reproduced – definitely Santa Teresa is my favorite hood in Rio: quaint streets, art studios, colonial mansions, and a vibrant nightlife that is convivially-local and bohemian.

Nestled in this quintessential area of the city, full of the best Rio has to offer – tropical sunsets and film-like views included, Santa Teresa Hotel MGallery by Sofitel is an urban retreat, set among the most gorgeous gardens and in a building dating from 1850. This luxury boutique hotel counts with 44 rooms and suites all decorated with nature inspired objects – Brazilian fauna wooden sculptures accent the earthen-chic atmosphere with indigenous artwork and pottery beautifully displayed in the large lounges and corridors. In the suites, super comfortable beds and soft fabrics with stylised tropical motifs set the tone to the perfect quiet nights in the tropics. Unless you decide to hit the hotel’s bar! Called ‘Bar dos Descasados’ or ‘Bar of the Divorcees’ in a very tongue and cheek reference to a time when the building was a well known serviced apartments for the well-healed and recent divorced city folk. Yes, the building has seen plenty of stories and twists and turns in the matters of the heart!

The suites are exquisite, most of them with views of the city, mountains or the iconic city symbols. The large bathrooms present stone bathtubs and plenty of orchids to fragrant the space. The wooden furniture is gorgeous throughout the property, designed and source by local Brazilian craft ateliers that enrich this artistic neighborhood. The hotel also counts with a remarkable spa harvesting on the richness of the Amazon and natural elements of Brazil’s forest to produce mango scrubs, tropical flowers bath immersions and Amazonian cacao detox masks.

The convivial ambience and well-spoken and relaxed staff usher the guest to a cocoon of tropical elegance in a way that only Cariocas – as the Rio locals are called – know how to do it: a sort of natural way of dealing with life, where there is always a positive solution for anything, or a caipirinha – the Brazilian cure for pretty much anything!

The restaurant Térèze is a smooth affair of French cuisine techniques with Brazilian ingredients making it a joy to savoir all the flavors that are brought out by chef Esteban Mateu in what he calls a non-conventional plant based gastronomic menu that elevates the culinary heritage of the region and create collaborations with local producers

With the nicest swimming pool in town with drop-dead gorgeous views of downtown Rio and the mountains, one can catch a glimpse of local life in this phenomenal city blessed by the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer from the privileged yet understated verandas of Santa Teresa Hotel. It is one of those moments when you wish time could be frozen in a painterly sunset, in one of the most exciting cities in the world.