On a recent trip to Brazil, I spent some time travelling around with friends exploring Rio, Sao Paulo, Paraty and Ilha Grande. As part of the trip, we would not only be travelling around a lot but also needing to shift between different types of accommodation.
We stayed in everything from hostels and apartments to four-star hotels and pousadas. All of which gave me a good, all-round idea of the types of accommodation available in the country. Take a look at my experiences below outlining each of the places where we stayed.
Definition of a Pousada: According to Hidden Pousadas Brazil,they are always small with up to 40 rooms and the typical amenities that would be expected from a B&B or Inn, just at a more charming level.
Kariok Hostel, Rio De Janeiro
Located on Rue de Benjamin Constant, the Kariok Hostel has en-suite rooms that are able to sleep anything from two to eight people per room (depending upon your selection). With our party of five we opted for a six bed room for the most cost effective stay that suited our needs.
Our room featured three sets of bunk beds and a small bathroom that was basic but adequate for our needs. Having recently opened in 2012, everything appeared to be fairly new and in good condition. This was part of the reason for this choice of accommodation as it really stood out in the photos as somewhere that would meet our expectations, as well as being very well located for the carnival festivities.
I also loved that this accommodation had an accessible kitchen, day or night. From frying eggs in the morning to a home cooked meal at dinnertime, we made the most of the budget stay. With bathrooms on each floor, as well as those in room, there isn’t too much waiting around in the morning to get ready.
Tips for Kariok Hostel:
- Don’t be shy to use the kitchen, it’s a particularly social place, share your stories and learn from others.
- It’s around a fifteen minute walk to Flamengo Beach, Lapa and Catete from the hostel, some of the key areas that I explored in the area.
- Don’t be concerned to tour on foot or by local transport (buses and metro are a two minute walk away).
- The staff can help with booking taxis and tours if you need them to. English is quite readily spoken as well, so it’s not too difficult to be understood.
Higienopolis Hotel & Suites, Sao Paulo
Situated on Avenida Angelica in Sao Paulo, Higienopolis Hotel & Suites is an apartment-style hotel was the perfect location for our group of friends. I had booked a 3-bedroom apartment which featured a living room with flat-screen TV, three double bedrooms with plenty of storage and a full-sized bathroom as well as an en-suite to the master bedroom (my room). Each morning, the hotel provides a full breakfast spread with plenty of choice. Whether you fancy cereal, a cooked breakfast or a selection of fruit, there’s a lot of variety.
The hotel also offers a gym and sauna facilities, however as I was only in the city for a couple of days I didn’t make use of them as I usually would.
From the moment of check-in to check-out, I found the staff to be polite, professional and happy to provide directions and communicate in English with me wherever possible, although I did attempt with Portuguese – badly.
From the hotel, it’s an easy walk to Hiegienopolis Shopping Centre where there is a real mix of brand stores and restaurants open until 10pm most evenings. It’s also a two minute walk to the nearest metro station for easy access to the rest of the city.
Pousada Brunello, Paraty
Within the small coastal town of Paraty is Pousada Brunello directly opposite Jabaquara beach which is walking distance from Paraty centre.
The rooms at the pousada are very clean, nice and simple with en-suite bathrooms and towels provided – a nice treat after spending time in hostels without these provisions! The staff are the main highlight – they’re very friendly and happy to help with any requests. We had a mix up with our room and were promptly offered an alternative from any of the available rooms that was much appreciated to make our visit more comfortable. There is a swimming pool in the back of the hotel and they offer anything you need for mosquitoes including sprays for around your room.
Pousada L’Auberge is set in a tropical garden just metres from Ilha Grande’s Praia do Abraão Beach – exactly the reason why I chose this pousada for our stay on the island. Whilst it’s a small place, I wanted to ensure that we were close to the docks for our boat transfer to the mainland as well as having suitable accommodation for the stay of just 24 hours. Pousada L’Auberge ticked every box.
Offering guests a hot tub on the sun terrace, a gym and air-conditioned rooms, each room also features a TV, fridge and a private bathroom with hot shower. The scenic environment was perfect for absorbing the relaxed atmosphere of the island – a blend of tropical weather, samba music and friendly attitudes.
Located in Vila do Abraão Neighbourhood it’s a short walk to the main area full of restaurants and bars and around a twenty minute walk to Ilha Grande National Park, perfect for hiking and absorbing more of the beautiful island.
Despite travelling as often as life allows, I have to say that this was my first experience of using AirBnB – and I was wary of doing so. I was unsure of whether or not to trust the service and the concept behind staying in an unknown persons’ apartment. As I was travelling in a group on this occasion, I guess the ethos of ‘safety in numbers’ rang true and I felt confident to give it a try.
Having perused the listings on AirBnB, considering the budget and location, I started to make contact with advertisers. A few were prompt to reply, gave clear information and additional photos. Others bumped the price up once they realised that my stay would be around the Carnival period in Brazil. No longer would the advertised price be available and I decided to go elsewhere.
Fortunately I found an advertiser with a fantastic apartment that was spacious and perfect for our group size – and was literally a stone’s throw from Copacabana Beach! You can view photos and further information here. The host (in this case, Claudia) was fantastic. From the offset, she communicated often to confirm arrival dates and times, the number of people in our party (as this increased shortly after I had confirmed the booking) and even when I arrived at her apartment, we had clear instructions for using the facilities and making ourselves at home.
Did I enjoy the experience? Definitely. However, I do think that this is all about the host. If you have a host that isn’t very accommodating then I can understand that the experience would be completely different. Trust your instincts on this one and be receptive to meeting each others’ needs.