Overlooking Bananal’s main square, Hotel Brasil (Praça Pedro Ramos 45, tel. 12/3116-0411, R$40 d) was built in 1847 as the grandiose residence of one of Bananal’s richest coffee barons. In 1928, it was transformed into a hotel that has since fallen somewhat into disrepair. Nevertheless, the absolutely palatial rooms are spotless and retain their original features, including terraces overlooking the square.
A handful of coffee fazendas around Bananal have been converted into reasonably priced hotels that offer a deliciously authentic bucolic atmosphere for those equipped with cars. Located 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from Bananal, Fazenda Boa Vista (SP-068 Km 327, tel. 12/3116-1539, www.fazendaboavista.com.br, R$170–190 d) lies in a forested conservation area ribboned with walking trails that lead to waterfalls. Constructed in 1780 by the wealthy Barão da Boa Vista, the estate mansion has often been used by TV crews filming period dramas. Rooms in the main house and outlying casas are rustic, but cozy. Kitchens equipped with wood-burning stoves offer guests the possibility of playing house.
More elegance is on display at the Fazenda Independência (SP-064 Km 329, tel. 12/3116-1100, www.fazendaindependencia.com.br, R$200–300 d), 14 kilometers (9 miles) from Bananal. Dating back to 1822, the main plantation house is awash in dark mahogany furniture, Persian carpets, and comfy upholstered chairs. Wide verandas face onto the pool and sweeping grounds landscaped by Roberto Burle Marx. You can opt for half or full board. It’s worth spending the extra reias for the posher master suites.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition