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Exploring Rio’s Santa Teresa Neighbourhood, a perfect place to stay for the Summer Games

One of the accommodation options that we have for our Summer Games guests is to stay at the beautiful Hotel Santa Teresa in Rio’s Santa Teresa neighborhood. Formerly a historic coffee plantation mansion, the Hotel Santa Teresa is a stunning property that is full of sophisticated charm. Named the Best Hotel in South America by Conde Nast Traveller, and featured in Tatler Magazine’s 101 Best Hotels of the World (amongst many other honors), the hotel alone is reason enough to come to Santa Teresa, but we adore this location for plenty of other reasons too, and wanted to share why we love placing guests here.

You’re no doubt familiar with the images of Rio’s beautiful beaches and most popular landmarks, but the hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa offers a completely different view of the city. Steeped in history, Santa Teresa is a bohemian paradise filled with crumbling 19th century colonial mansions, some of which have been restored and turned into boutique hotels (like the Hotel Santa Teresa, and another smaller boutique property that we have reserved for guests, the Mama Ruisa), and brightly painted homes that artists moved in to in the sixties and seventies, after the neighborhood was all but abandoned by the wealthy elite who used to call it home. Santa Teresa became an arts district, and still is, and offers visitors a very unique experience.

The last running streetcar in Rio, the bright yellow bonde, runs up the hillside to Santa Teresa, and you’ll see locals clinging onto the sides as it rattles over the winding cobbled streets as it delivers them to the Largo dos Guimarães – a small square where the streetcar stops, slap bang in the middle of Santa Teresa. Watching the bonde deliver its load of passengers, you can see how things must have been in this neighborhood fifty years ago, and that some things in this vibrant city really haven’t changed at all.

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The bonde running through Santa Teresa, image by Flickr user Frank Schmidt, used under Creative Commons licensing.

Staying in Santa Teresa can offer a more authentic experience than you’d get by staying closer to the beaches. Here you’ll find small boutiques and galleries, cafes serving classic Brazilian food, and many excellent restaurants (some of which have huge terraces overlooking the city below, a breathtaking view to enjoy as you feast). There are also fun bars, and plenty of street entertainment to enjoy as you sit on patios watching the world go by.

This neighborhood is home some wonderful attractions too, including the Museu da Chacara do Deo, where you’ll find works by Picasso, Dali, Matisse, and Miro. The museum gardens are lush, and offer beautiful views out over Rio. There’s also the Convent of Santa Teresa, which dates back from 1629 and is where the neighborhood’s name comes from, and the gorgeous Parque das Ruinas which is set in the ruins of a historic burned out mansion.

We love staying here because Santa Teresa feels so unique and offers so much. Despite being situated in one of the world’s biggest and busiest cities, Santa Teresa maintains a small town friendliness and feel, which is a real treat to experience. By staying in Santa Teresa, you sacrifice nothing in terms of luxury either – the Hotel Santa Teresa really is a magical place, and every guest that we’ve taken there has fallen in love with it just like we did.

Ready to book your trip to the 2016 Summer Games? Contact us to find out how we can create your perfect trip from start to finish, showing you the very best of Rio as well as every event you want to see during the games.