The native style of the Franco-Indian couple behind Casa Beleza informs much of the design within, bedroom walls sharing retro posters from both countries by way of diplomacy on the home front. And this is very much a big, beautiful family home, but laid out in such a fashion that nobody needs to feel imposed upon, particularly for those staying in the choice spot at the back of the garden known as the ‘bungalow’. The true romantics’ hideaway up some ancient-looking stone steps, the best views of the city and bay are spied from its veranda, whilst inside what feels like a modern en-suite hotel room stands alone surrounded by little more than fruit trees, monkeys and toucans. Beleza, as they say round here. R$300 per night (bungalow).
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This particular stretch of Santa Teresa has its fair share of charming lodging options, but Villa Laurinda more than holds its own with its grand colonialism-meets-modernity essence very much to the fore. That means original Portuguese tiling galore and big and bright, high-ceiling bedrooms battle with a spacious swimming pool and sauna for its guests affections. Ask to see a selection of the rooms if possible, but the bold decor and wooden floors of the rustic Tijuca suite win out by a nose. R$300 per night (Tijuca Suite)
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It may have only opened in November 2011, but this former Asian restaurant (next door to another famous local eatery Espírito Santa) has already made an impact in Santa Teresa. Eleven individually designed bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms are on offer, but the deluxe suite complete with private veranda and jacuzzi is the most requested. The be-decked swimming pool and view over the hillside complete the package in style. R$450 per night (Deluxe suite)
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Oozing Euro chic even as you climb the stone steps past the oversized mosquito sculpture and up to the front porch, Frenchman Benjamin Cano has done an impressive job of restoring this beautiful house at the foot of the Ipanema hills. A ten-minute walk up the cobbled street behind General Osorio station and you might as well be a million miles from Posto 9, the calm amid the local madness a product of only having four rooms (more to be added in January 2013) and numerous nooks and crannies to hide away in for dinner or drinks. R$550 per night excl. breakfast (all rooms).
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The big daddy of Santa Teresa’s pousadas, Mama Ruisa may not have the capacity of, say, the Santa Teresa Hotel, but it certainly echoes its grandeur. This enormous mansion comes complete with stone arches, stylishly subdued corridors and a tennis court-sized living room filled with designer originals to sit and lounge about on or stand back and admire. Fortunately there isn’t any snootiness to go with the swank, so pitching up by the decent-sized pool high on the hillside and framed by Pão de Açucar, bright pink flowers all around and caipirinha in hand, you can begin to feel like you own the place. Grab one of two rooms with a terrace on the top floor and have breakfast served up with a view fit for the lord of the manor. R$600 per night (upstairs suite with balcony).
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