Santa Teresa is Rio's most charming and unique neighbourhood, a maze of cobbled streets with hairpin turns crisscrossing through the mountains, where even the most experienced taxi drivers get lost. Incredibly well-preserved colonial houses give it a back-in-time feel. Pros of staying in Santa Teresa include the charming streets and views, the tranquility and the abundance of very small, tasteful inns. The cons are the distance from the beach (at least a 20-minute cabride), the steepness of the hills, which turn leisurely walks into workouts, and a sense of isolation from the buzz of the city.
Hotel Santa Teresa
This new hotel, as soon as it opened in late 2008, became the best in the neighbourhood. To read a full report and see photos, please click here.
Hotel Mama Ruisa
One of many beautiful inns owned and run by a French expat - in this case, Jean Michel Ruis, who worked for Le Meridien and Concorde hotels. This lovely house with large pool and sweeping views has only 7 rooms. They're filled with art and photography and the owner's collection of Brazilian religious sculptures. Soft music can be heard in the common areas, and is played from old vynil records.
Deluxe rooms cost 230 Euros.
Junior suite is 330 Euros.
Airport transfers are available, at 100 reais (one-way only).
Rua Santa Cristina, 132
Solar de Santa
The first upscale inn of Santa Teresa, the Solar, also known as Relais Solar, was opened by the Canadian cultrural producer Gwenael Allan, who had previously lived in Paris, London and New York. It only has five rooms, but an expansion and addition of a spa are in the near future plans. Allan also organized so-called favela tours - trips to nearby favelas, or shantytowns, so that tourists can see how the poorer cariocas live and play.
Ladeira dos Meirelles, 32
Cama e Café
This isn't an actual inn, but rather, a network of approximately 50 private homes where residents rent out a room or two. Rates start at 95 reais.
To read an article on this published by London's The Times, click here.
Laurent Gelis’ Casa Amarelo is a five-room inn occupying a beautiful historic mansion originally built in 1904 by an architect from Europe (to see photos provided by the hotel, click on the image below). It blends old-fashioned charm and modern fixtures. Breakfast can be served either on the terrace overlooking the city or in one of the sitting rooms. The house boasts very high ceilings, an elevator and stunning antique chandeliers. Most of the soft furnishings are by Robert le Héros, a French brand that is owned by Gelis.
Rates are quoted in Euros and start at € 200 per night, with a 3-night minimum requirement. Breakfast and lunch are included in the rates, as are the airport transfers.
Casa Amarelo: Rua Joaquim Murtinho, 569, Santa Teresa, Tel. (55-21) 8886-4314
Interactive map of Santa Teresa with highlighted links to hotels and attractions
Excellent article by Sara Wheeler for London's The Times describing Santa Teresa and its inns