I often wonder if I was born in the wrong era. Not really being into design hotels and contemporary chic, I’m much more comfortable with uneven floorboards, wooden beams, and stone walls dripping with history. Call me a princess, but castles and mansions are where I belong. Especially on holidays! Which is perhaps why the Pousada do Sandi in Paraty was by far my favourite crash pad on our trip to Brazil. For once hubbie was in agreement. It just had that something special.
The Pousada do Sandi
Housed in an 18th Century mansion, the Pousada do Sandi was Paraty’s first luxury inn. It was home to the Brazilian Mint in a previous life, as well as a school and a social club. Today however, it’s one of the best hotels in town. Whilst the outside is painted respectfully in blues and yellows, inside the spaces are decked out with a fusion of tropical splendour. It’s a place where modern and colonial design mingle elegantly, floorboards creak reassuringly, and luxury is achieved without a speck of pretension. Just how we like it.
The family who own the Pousada do Sandi are connected to the movie world, and it’s perhaps not surprising then to find film memorabilia, including letters from Rita Hayworh and Alfred Hitchcock, scattered thoughtfully about the mansion.
If you’re visiting Paraty, staying in the historical centre is a no brainer. It’s not a big place, and you can easily walk around it in an hour, so wherever you base yourselves everywhere will be within easy reach. Having said that, the location of Pousada do Sandi is superb, in the thick of the action, such as it is in Paraty. Tucked away beside a church built by slaves, it’s a stone’s throw from restaurants, cafes and boutiques, and it takes a mere few minutes to stroll down to the seafront for boat tours and ice creams.
The grassy area in front of the pousada does seem to be the hippie hang out, and you’ll find bracelet sellers and bead makers sitting peacefully in the sun during the day. By night there are buskers filling the streets with their souls, and it becomes a little busier with people passing on their way to dinner. Nowhere in the historical centre is particularly quiet in the evening. Music from restaurants and bars spills into the night air with no heed for boundaries, so there’s not much point in grabbing an early night. Having said that, for some reason it’s not as intrusive as it would be elsewhere in the world. It’s all part of what makes Paraty tick, and I kinda liked falling asleep to the sounds of a jazzy clarinet a couple of streets away.
My one requirement when it came to rooms was a balcony over the street. Of course madam got what she desired.
We were given a superb Junior Suite (room 207!) just up the stairs from reception and overlooking the street outside. Most of the rooms overlook the central garden rather than the street, which may have been a little quieter, but being nosy, I didn’t want to miss anything going on outside!
We made good use of our sitting room, which had an extra couple of beds in, and marvelled at how cheap the mini bar was compared to what we were used to. Even the bottles of rum were a steal, I guess because it comes pretty much straight from the distillery!
The bathroom was large and clean, with lots of fluffy towels and even a toiletry kit in case you’d forgotten your toothbrush. We loved the forceful hot shower too. The only slightly odd aspect was that the vents led out onto the corridor rather than directly outside. This of course was due to the layout of the building, and wasn’t a problem in the slightest, although we did wonder if passers by might have heard us going about our business.
You’d never guess there was a little tropical haven hidden away in the centre of the Pousada do Sandi. Overlooked by many of the rooms and the bar, it was a great place for a pre dinner drink, or a dip in the jacuzzi! Floodlit at night I couldn’t decide whether it looked romantic or a bit spooky.
Breakfast is hubbie’s favourite time of day, and he reckoned this was the best of the trip!
There was everything from fresh fruits, breads and cheeses, to pastries, pancakes and cake! I don’t really have a sweet tooth, and usually stick to the mango and salami, but it seemed rude not to at least give it a go. Trouble is, you’d need a week here to try everything, and we only had a few days. If you go, try the bolo de coco. It’s coconut and condensed milk cake, a bit of a speciality in Brazil, and something I can’t decide whether I like or not.
Being early birds we were up first for breakfast, and shared the dining room with a confident cat who came to join us at our table. Perhaps he had a taste for bolo de coco too.
We struggled a bit with the culture in Brazil, and in general felt a little unwelcome as western tourists. At Pousada do Sandi however the staff were helpful and polite, and perhaps for the first time we felt quite comfortable with our visit. Assistance was always given when required, and although we often had to ask before it was offered, this seems to be the norm in Brazil, so isn’t a reflection on an individual hotel.
Always having itchy feet, we never stay in one place for long. On this occasion howver, we both wished we didn’t travel by this rule. We could have happily stayed here for a week, and really enjoyed the laid back sophistication and the sense that we were valued as guests (not something we found at many other places). The building was one of the most beautifully restored places we’ve ever stayed in, and I have no hesitation in urging you to make this your home on a visit to Paraty.
Just keep an eye out for beady-eyed moggies with a penchant for cake!
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