This article was originally published in the Glass Passage. A Global Collective of Travel Photographers aiming to inspire and inform by offering a look through our lens. This is our Glass Passage.
See one of Brazil’s most popular destinations like a local with these tips from Rio resident, travel concierge and villa owner Lauren Quinn. She has lived in major cities from Paris to San Francisco, but now calls Rio home and runs the lovely Casa Bromelia!
RIO DE JANEIRO
CASA BROMELIA Staying at one of their Villas in Ipanema, puts soul into your trip. Located only one road back from the beach, you are at the pulse of all the action. Casa Bromelia has the right balance of understanding your international expectations and blending them with the Brazilian lifestyle. With hand-designed furniture, wooden checkered board floors, and Juliette balconies, it will be difficult to leave the comfort of your tropical home in Rio. The creator also runs a Rio travel concierge by the same name, helping you organize your trip down to those lil’ stressful Brazilian details. Known for their local excursions, from underground samba parties to lunch on hidden colonial islands, Casa Bromelia will give you access to the real Rio de Janeiro.
MAMA RUISA Tucked in the former bourgeois neighborhood of Santa Teresa, this 19th century mansion has an exotic Brazilian feel with a French touch. The details here are exquisite: a pool in the garden, a colonial veranda facing Sugarloaf Mountain, and exceptional service.
FASANO Ideal for that ‘infinity pool-tropical fruit cocktail’ afternoon, the Fasano is top to tail fabulous. This ocean front, Phillipe Stark designed property, also boasts one of the city’s best spas. A local’s best kept secret: Spend the morning rejuvenating in the spa’s palpable tranquility & gain access to their roof top bar overlooking the Dois Irmaos mountain.
LASAI With Chef Rafa in the kitchen, food grown in their own gardens, and a Michelin star to their name, this restaurant is at the pinnacle of the Rio restaurant scene. Clay plates, rooftop bar, table in the kitchen, and emphasis on vibrant Brazilian ingredients, Lasai will leave you anything but disappointed.
ACONCHEGO CARIOCA Known for their deconstructed feijoada and whole roasted pumpkin stuffed with shrimp, this epitome of a Rio Botequim makes local classics like your great-grandmother did. Order one of their Minero cachaças to make room for the final dessert course of guava paste & cheese.
AMAZONIA SOUL Step onto the page of the Amazon and taste the city’s best Açai. While this whipped-up berry can be found on any ol’ street corner in all of Brazil, this Amazon house is the only one to serve it up pure like the indigenous tribes still eat it.
URCA On the edge of Guanabara Bay, at the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, lies the neighborhood of Urca. Peppered with dramatic beaches, colorful art deco villas & tiny hole-in-the-wall bars, you’ll find yourself happily loosing your afternoon in the company of gregarious locals.
PRAINHA Known as Rio’s savage beach, this preserved sanctuary with blond sand and crystal waters is an oasis. The road up is equally charming, wrapping around rolling hills along the Atlantic Sea. There is also a delightful outdoor restaurant perched directly above, that serves fresh locally caught fish & other Brazilian beach fare.
PRAÇA TIRADENTES This historic square, looks bleak to the untrained eye, but take a closer look & you’ll be sunbathing in Rio’s urban culture: underground Samba parties, late night art deco dance halls, and day time street bazaars.
SÃO CONRADO For the purest view of Rio de Janeiro, where the the rainforest still meets the sand, paraglide off the top of São Conrado mountain (alongside a trained professional of course). This ‘marvelous city’ is known for some of the world’s best paragliding and there is no more peaceful seat than enjoy the warm view from Ipanema to Barra da Tijuca.
SIDE TRIP: TRANCOSO, BAHIA
Just a short fight from Rio, the state of Bahia, offers an incredible postcard-style getaway. The charming village embodies a tropical holiday, based on architecture, an emerald ocean, and a top culinary scene. Adding an exclamation mark to our trip, we spent the weekend at Hotel Fazenda Cala & Divino in Praia Espelho. Once a farm & pottery studio, the hotel’s rustic elegance brought us back to life with its semi-secluded beaches, coconut groves and beach front bar.