exceptional-hotels-brazil

There are some hotels in Brazil that not only provide all the comfort and luxury you’d expect from a top-class crash pad but their location, ethos or contributions to the community set them a cut above the rest. Whether it’s running the business as a co-operative, putting staff through university, encouraging children to explore nature or giving you exclusive access to all areas, these five places offer that little something, often unadvertised, to bring an extra dimension to your stay.

UXUA

UXUA’s seduction goes well beyond its idyllic setting in a 16th-century village square on Bahia’s Discovery Coast; its impeccable design by former Diesel creative director  Wilbert Das; and its popularity among the glitterati (including Moss, Kloss and Beyoncé). The hotel has a multi-pronged approach to maintaining the magic and irresistibly Instagrammable look of the beach town. A full-time lobbyist keeps unscrupulous developers at bay, the next generation of eco-warriors are being trained up and forgotten festivals are being revived. At UXUA, staff can learn another language or be sponsored to get a degree (there are currently two graduates and counting). Ingenious recycling means showers stand in hollow tree trunks, sinks are made from scooped-out logs and new materials are weaved on ancient looms. The local Pataxó tribe have also taught the hotel how to make objects, such as lamps, baskets and items usually made of plastic, from river weed and grasses, while every last fibre of coconut is put to good use.

  • +55 733 668 2277
  • Go to Website
  • Acesso ao Quadrado
    Porto Seguro
    Trancoso
    Bahia
    45810-000

Cristalino Lodge

The Cristalino Lodge barely cuts a nick out of the 12,000 hectare of primary rainforest that surrounds it. Pretty much bang in the middle of South America and close to Brazil’s western border, the reserve abuts the Amazon providing a sanctuary for hundreds of species of birds, butterflies and insects, as well as trees that have stood there for centuries. From the hotel’s 50-metre-high viewing platforms, guests have a 360-degree view of the forest canopy and benefit from the keen eyes and expertise of specialist guides. Climbing up for sunrise reveals spider monkeys dangling from vines, pairs of macaws flying below and the rainforest rush hour beginning through the morning mist. The lodge itself is made up of simple, naturally ventilated bungalows with outdoor showers. The bar is built around rock, there’s a beautiful wooden screening room and a family of giant otters swim past the floating river deck almost every day.

  • +55 113 071 0104
  • Go to Website
  • Alta Floresta
    Mato Grosso State
    78580-000

Reserva do Ibitipoca

The state of Minas Gerais is not the Brazil that most people know. Inland and with egg-box-shaped mountains carpeted in bright-green forests and mossy grass, it’s more Scotland than sun-soaked Ipanema. The Reserva do Ibitipoca is a vast private estate that runs parallel to a national park providing acres of peace and solitude through which to trek, walk, bike, ride and hike. At its heart is a square farmhouse that wraps around a large courtyard, with homely rooms and free-standing baths, fires, a yoga studio and a star-lit plunge pool. The staff, who have been given the business to run as a co-operative, not only make enthusiastic guides but are also practiced in the art of surprise picnics and spectacular sundowners. There are remote houses dotted across the land for guests to overnight in and a family of enormous chainmail figures that once stood on the playa of Burning Man now live on a plateau among the trees.

  • +55 328 449 2200
  • Go to Website
  • Fazenda Do Engenho
    Conceição Do Ibitipoca
    Lima Duarte
    Minas Gerais
    36140-000

Belmond Hotel das Cataratas

Along with the thousands of cubic metres of water that cascade over the Iguaçu Falls, it can feel like a similar number of tourists also descend. The Belmond Hotel das Cataratas is the place to sidestep the crowds and immerse yourself in one of Brazil’s natural wonders. Not only is the hotel known for its old-school luxury and white-glove service, it also has exclusive access to the national park. Once the gates are closed at night and before they open in the morning, guests can go in search of wildlife or soak in the spray of the waterfalls undisturbed by crowds. The hotel organises an array of activities from abseiling to dawn safaris, dinner under the stars and trips to see the arching lunar rainbow that occurs at full moon. At the end of it all, snuggle up in bed and doze off to the howl of the monkeys and crash of water, knowing that jaguars and jacaré are among the only other residents in the vicinity.

  • +55 452 102 7000
  • Go to Website
  • Rodovia Br 469
    Iguassu National Park
    Foz do Iguassu
    85855-750

Fazenda Catuçaba

Catuçaba is a working organic farm-cum-boutique hotel that wouldn’t look out of place in a period film. Geese and dogs wander around, piglets play in nearby pens, the cows are milked by hand and, at the farmhouse, guests are served the freshest produce from the lovingly tended vegetable garden. It is, by design, an old-fashioned way of life. Without wifi or much phone signal, people arrive to unwind and broaden their horizons by exploring the endless land and bountiful nature, on horseback, by foot or in the lakes and rivers. Under the umbrella of Casas da Terra, Catuçaba and its seaside sister, Picinguaba, focus on retreats that elevate your experience beyond a hotel getaway. There are treasure-hunting camps for children, regular lectures and an art gallery. They also have award-winning prefabricated and modernist houses, a bamboo cathedral designed by Brazilian duo, the Campana brothers, and an indigenous oca hut built by the Amazonian Xingu people.

  • +55 112 495 1586
  • Go to Website
  • Estrada Fazenda Santa Helena
    São Luís do Paraitinga
    São Paulo
    12140-000

Fazenda Catuçaba

Belmond Hotel das Cataratas

Reserva do Ibitipoca

UXUA

Cristalino Lodge

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