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Hotel Santa Teresa

Jason Campbell

Driving to the Hotel Santa Teresa requires leaving the bustle of Ipanema beach behind and winding up into jungle heights through the lush serene landscape.

The setting is straight out of Blame It On Rio, in which two dysfunctional families set up camp for a week of high-jinks in a house in the hills above Rio. Hotel Santa Teresa isn’t exactly a house but it does have a plantation feel. The 44 airy rooms span two floors, featuring hand-craved wood interiors as well as quality Brazilian art and designs from the likes of Oficina de Agosto, Zemog, Sergio Rodriguez, Rock Lane and Carassas. Formerly the Guimaraes Fazenda, Hotel Santa Teresa took more than three years to renovate, but even just based on the intricate Canela, Peroba and Imbuia wood carvings across two floors, it’s clear that no detail went unnoticed. The aesthetic result combines colonial Brazil openness and European refinement.

Like several hotels and bed and breakfasts in the area—including Jean-Michel Ruis’ buzzed about Mama Ruisa—Hotel Santa Teresa is the brainchild of a consortium of French investors who’ve succumbed to the bohemian, tropical lifestyle of Rio. And yet, Hotel Santa Teresa stands out as the only five star perch in the area. The hotel’s Térèze Restaurant is already considered to be one of Rio’s most highly recommended destination spots. With a suite for spa treatment and an inviting pool with views out onto the bay far below, the hotel is not without its additional perks. To take it all in, we recommend an evening lounge at The Lounge Bar dos Descasados, a patio perch just below the rooms with stunning views down into the jungle.

The experience is further enhanced by a grove of mango, passion fruit and banana trees, as well as roaming monkeys, parrots and various indigenous birds on the grounds, which round out this tropical chic of the hotel.

—Jason Campbell