Rio's design-forward hillside hideaway
37 Rooms / 5 Suites
Rio de Janeiro may be famous for its beach scene, but Hotel Santa Teresa M Gallery by Sofitel offers an entirely different experience high in the hills of the city’s charming bohemian quarter. The luxury hotel was once an 18th-century coffee plantation and is now a chic, rustic boutique hotel with unbeatable views of the city, the mountains and the Bay of Rio below. Neo-colonial décor and interiors feature design materials such as recycled tropical woods (jacaranda, cinnamon, ipe) and local golden slate. The 42 design-forward guest rooms and suites have played host to a slew of globetrotting celebrities, including Richard Branson, Snoop Dogg and Alanis Morissette. Térèze, the onsite restaurant, is considered one of the best restaurants in Rio, and the terrace bar is known for its selection of Brazilian rums. Brazilian arts and crafts are scattered throughout the hotel and a small selection is available for sale at the hotel’s boutique.
The reclaimed plantation mansion’s guestrooms have been transformed into chic, roomy spaces with a light, airy feel, white walls, wood furnishings and a mixture of indigenous and neo-colonial décor. Design features include luscious silk drapes, sunlight-filtering shutters, slate showers and myriad surfaces and furniture made from Brazilian woods.
Ground-floor rooms have burnt-cement floors, while rooms above have varnished wood floors. All rooms come with bathrobes, fresh orchids and giant wood-framed mirrors (some have king-size beds). Room and suite amenities include Granado bath products, Havaianas flip-flops, iPod docks, 46-inch LCD TVs and original art by Brazilian designers. Junior Suites have sitting areas behind veiled partitions, and Master Suites have stand-alone tubs. The hotel’s Loft Suite takes up an entire top floor and has sweeping 360-degree vistas of Guanabara Bay, the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and the Santa Teresa hills.
Térèze is a casual-chic spot laden with recycled wood furnishings, exposed brick, iron flooring, a glass wine cellar and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the treetops of Santa Teresa. Brazilian food is prepared with traditional French methods — think salmon tartar with coconut foam, grapefruit chipotle and guacamole, and prime rib with potatoes, mushrooms and malbec sauce. More than 200 wines are available, too. The stylish Bar dos Descasados, which was once slave quarters, has red-and-white-tiled floors and 100-year-old architectural arches. A wide selection of Brazilian rums are available, as well as caipirinhas and caipivodka on ice, with tropical extras like acai, lychee and lime.
From its hillside perch, Santa Teresa feels removed from the boisterous beach scene below, but is still filled with Brazilian flair, starting with the mango and apricot trees found on the property. Indigenous art and rich, natural materials are around every corner. The hotel’s glam pool — there’s a Veuve Clicquot champagne bar — is surrounded by tropical gardens, and is lined with dark slate. The views from the pool area are unbeatable and are especially enchanting at night. Other amenities include a full-service spa, welcome drinks on arrival, an outdoor garden, an outdoor Jacuzzi, valet parking and Wi-Fi throughout the property. The luxury hotel can arrange activities that show off the spectacular sites of the area, including a helicopter ride over Rio de Janeiro and rock climbing on Sugarloaf Mountain.