“Si tu vas à Rio n’oublies pas de monter là-haut” was singing Dario Moreno in the French 50’s. The quaint neighborhood Santa Teresa (Cariocas say Santa) is always a good option for hanging around. Who can resist its romantic cobbled streets, old-school tramway like in Lisboa, shabby-chic façades and that breeze of freedom blowing upon the hill ?
Start at the top, at Largo do Curvelo, by visiting a modernist gem, the villa designed by architect Alves de Souza. Honestly, I’d rather come here for the splendid architecture of this Museu da Chácara do Céu than for the collections of Castro Mayor, the king of ananas in the early XXth century. Rua Murtinho Nobre, 93. http://museuscastromaya.com.br/
And besides, the lovely Parque das Ruinas is just off the villa’s garden. Here is the best panoramic view on the bay and Centro. See the pyramidal Catedral Metropolitana, work of architect Edgar Fonceca built in 1979 and that can host up to 20000 people. Then, stroll to the Largo named after Joaquim Fonseca Guimarães (a local resident whose house became Hotel Santa Teresa, just up the road, read below) and that is now the epicenter of bohemian Santa. This is a key cable-car stop on the bonde (say “bondjee” as any word finishing by “de”) and a number of restaurants, handicrafts and vintage shops lie within a short distance.
Bar do Mineiro, an authentic boteco where locals drag on at lunch in front of their week-end’s traditional feijoada. Rua Paschoal Carlos Magna, 99. Tel. +55 21-2221 9227 (Santa Teresa).
Cafecito for a cheap coffee break, a pastry or a pizza, climbing the stiff stairs to upper floors. Rua Paschoal Carlos Magna, 121. Tel. +55 21-3497 3579 (Santa Teresa).
Café do Alto for a Nordeste tasty escapade in a color-block decor. Rua Paschoal Carlos Magna, 143. Tel. +55 21-2507 3172 (Santa Teresa)
Aprazível of course, I double recommend one of the top 5 restaurants in town, no doubt the best of the hood, for a gastronomic thrill among the mango trees, and facing the Guanabara bay (average R$ 180 à la carte). Rua Aprazivel, 62. Tel. +55 21 2508-9174 (Santa Teresa).
And by the way, I’m sure you’ll call for a drink, don’t you ? Believe it or not, the Magnifica is the only one cachaça (traditionally made out sugar cane, in different strength and aging …the oldest, Reserva is a premium treat) allowed in my caïpirinha (for my part, I avoid the very common “51” label …a basic tord-boyau for a headache guaranteed !). De Faria’s family (João Luiz and Cau and their children, Raul and Ana Luiza), a terezina family of teachers and ingeneers, runs the small Magnifica‘s local production at Fazenda do Anil, west of RJ state. Here in Santa, an exquisite chapel (a very rare property in that neighborhood) hides near the back door of their house and their garden-parties are always strongly expected. FB Magnifica
The Prodigy is a brand new hotel integrated to the terminal at Santos Dumont Airport, dedicated to domestic flights and located right down the city center. Not worth getting a room there but if you have the opportunity to fly to other parts of Brasil, don’t miss a laid-back hour admiring the view, one of the best on Pão de Acúcar (dixit a guinuine Carioca), or even a healthy lunch around the pool on the roof (a buffet restaurant is available at ground floor too).
Here is an awesome mirador to watch Gloria’s marina, which will host the Olympics sailing events. Yep, Suzette gives you great tips !
Av. Alm. Silvio de Noronha, 365 (Centro) T. +55 21 3478-4100
At ground floor, a mini-mall where among half a dozen of stores, the trendy carioca brand Osklen deserves the attention of fashionistas. Nearby, Museo de Arte Moderno (MaM) stands the emphatic modernist architecture of Alfonso Reidy (surrounded by Burle Marx swirling gardens) that houses the collection of Gilberto Chateaubriand, tireless collector of modern and conceptual arts. The Maxxi museum (by Zaha Hadid) temporary exhibition ends in September 2016. Pay attention to the building itself in its oversize performance. Nice restaurant Laguiole, open Mon to Friday, 12am-5pm. Tel. +55 (21) 2517 3129 http://mamrio.org.br Open Tuesday-Sunday 12am-6pm and 11am-6pm weekends. R$14. Then, walking towards Gloria’s marina, you’ll reach Parque do Flamengo, with another pure modernist construction, a martial WW2 memorial. Beyond, the 20ha garden (also designed by the smart Burle Marx in the 70’s) where are usually held big crowd events …Rihanna’s shows and that kind of stuff.
Highlight of Copacabana beach, long time considered as the first hospitality gem in South America, the elite hotel has been refurbished from top to toe in the last few years (at the same time, Orient-Express hospitality group was switching name to Belmond). Its « hall of fame » counts a collection of celebrities and leaders around the world for the past century. In their Art Deco flair, the 239 rooms (sorry, they mentioned appartments !) of the Copacabana Palace are pure luxury pampered by 650 dedicated employees. The sixth floor of the main building has only seven suites facing the beach of course, large marble bath room and tubs and an exclusive access to the rooftop black pool’s intimacy …a rooftop where lays a tennis court too, yes Serena ! Right down the Chopin building (a glimpse at its Bauhaus façade) and the Tower wing, the main pool is named after olympic champion Maria Lenk (1915-2007), teacher at this pool for years and who also gave her name to aquatic center of Rio’s Olympics in Barra da Tijuca. The Pergula is the perfect spot around the pool for a laid-back afternoon and a fresh salad before a drop down the spa. Here, you realize that treatments are more than small treats. Try the Sapucaí (the real name of Sambodromo), a thirty minutes foot massage …in heaven (R$ 155, best value for money). Time for diner now ? At the edge of the pool, Cipriani restaurant expresses Northern Italian cuisine inspired by venitian Laguna’s classics (yet another Belmond hotel) that may also be served at the nearby library, a peculiar place full of antiques. The Michelin star restaurant Mee is held by BBC’s renowned presenter, Ken Hom. Time to time, the sino-american chef stops by (from French Lot region or from Bangkok where he works and lives) to check a Sichuan miso eggplant or one of his famous Asian recipes. By chance, he was dining at next table to mine. He recommended the “Don’t kill my vibe” cocktail. Well done Ken !
From R$2000 (city view room) to R$12000 (penthouse suite).