Until recently, accommodations in the Pelourinho itself tended to be geared towards the budget and backpacking crowd, who were crammed into rooms that had been haphazardly constructed out of the colonial buildings’ vast—and often rotting—main salons. In the last couple of years, however, this has begun to change.
A recent noteworthy example is the delightfully intimate French-owned Casa do Amarelindo (Rua das Portas do Carmo 6, tel. 71/3266-8550, www.casadoamarelindo.com, R$200 d). With its great location (near the Terreiro de Jesus), this hotel offers 10 elegant and spacious rooms in a 19th-century mansion. And you won’t have to worry about being in the midst of the Pelô’s noisy hub since the windows and doors are insulated from the bustle outside (even the ceiling fans and mini fridges are equipped with silencers).
The swimming pool and rooftop lounge, as well as most rooms, boast wonderful views of the surrounding baroque architecture and the Bay of All Saints. As an added feature, a small gym offers morning capoeira classes. Meanwhile, with an in-house restaurant featuring innovative dishes that fuse tropical produce with French flair—salmon in graviola (a local fruit) and passion fruit sauce and filet mignon with cashew butter—you’ll be hard-pressed to eat elsewhere.
On Rua Direita de Santo Antônio, you will find a handful of very attractive, mostly foreign-owned pousadas located in colonial mansions. Most of them have been lovingly restored and mix eclectic furnishings with modern conveniences such as cable TV, air-conditioning, and broadband Internet service. Many have verandas, beautiful views of the Baía de Todos os Santos or the Pelourinho’s colonial architecture, and charming bars and lounges that make them idyllic places to stop for a drink, even if you decide not to check in. Owners and staff are invariably multilingual. Be sure to go to them for information about excursions within the city and the surrounding region.
Pousada do Pilar (Rua Direita de Santo Antônio 24, tel. 71/3241-2033, www.pousadadopilar.com, R$230–260 d) is a particularly pleasant option. The 12 renovated rooms are handsomely furnished, immense, and flooded with natural light. Only 7 of them have sea views, but everyone can partake of the lavish breakfast served on the panoramic terrace overlooking the bay.
Opened in 2003 by an English artist with a penchant for red fish (all the wooden furnishings are decorated with bright scarlet fish, painted in naïf style, swimming in a sea blue background) Pousada Colonial (Rua Direita de Santo Antônio 442, tel. 71/3243-8473, www.hotelredfish.com, R$240 d) inhabits a vast, beautifully renovated colonial building beside the 18th-century Igreja Nossa Senhora de Boqueirão. Both the exterior and interior have been painted in soothing watery shades of green, and rooms—both standard and the luxury suites—are clean, cool, and quite sizable (the largest ones can easily sleep six). Guests can surf the Internet whenever they want and, for an art fix, can feel free to check out whatever’s on the walls of the art gallery.
Offering plenty of warmth and charm, the Pousada das Flores (Ladeira do Boqueirão 1, tel. 71/3243-8473, www.pflores.com.br/, R$200–250 d) features nine sprawling rooms that are heavy on atmosphere. Living up to its name, flores (flowers) are everywhere: from live bouquets in vases to printed ones on bedspreads and curtains. Efforts to preserve the original 18th-century mansion mean no air-conditioning or TV, and the bathrooms are separated only by floral-themed screens. But minor “discomforts” aside, the rustic-chic furnishings (including modified four poster beds), soft lighting, and the intensely homey aura that engulfs the entire pousada will make you seriously consider moving in. Suites 7, 8, and 9 offer lovely private verandas.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition