THE BACKGROUND: Vila d'Este is a privately-owned boutique hotel set in an elevated position overlooking the main resort bay of Buzios. With rooms scattered through the hillside grounds, the owners have put together both the bedrooms and public areas with the love and attention to detail you would give your own home. The result is a stylish hotel with the atmosphere of a relaxed but classy home.
WHERE IS IT? Buzios is a stylish resort two hours' drive north from Rio. First made popular by Bridget Bardot who discovered it in the 1960s, it has a smart resort area but retains characterful echoes of the original fishing village. The hotel is set on the resort's main bay, within easy walking distance of the many restaurants and shops and close to 20 other beautiful beaches which surround the town.
THE ROOM: One of just 15 individually decorated rooms dotted through the hillside grounds, our room was an oasis of comfort and calm. While not huge, the rooms were simple and stylish, with crisp white linens and personal touches such as a selection of books and a generously-stocked fruit bowl. The bathroom included a large shower and luxurious fluffy towels and lush toiletries.
RESTAURANT & BARS: There is just one restaurant, The Ristorantino Vila d'este, and a single terrace bar. The views from both are sensational and the food served unfussy and delicious. There's a Brazilian buffet breakfast each morning and Mediterranean cuisine served with a sunset each night.
FACILITIES & ACTIVITIES: There are two ocean-front swimming pools at different levels – one beside the terrace deck area, the other, which is heated and has a hydromassage area, is linked to a steam-room. Recently added is a 'relax and massage' lounge within the tropical gardens, where massage therapies can be arranged. Venture beyond the hotel and there are a wide variety of beaches to explore and many opportunities for boat trips and watersports.
HIGHLIGHT: Once in the lower-terrace pool we could hardly bear to move! The view is spectacular and sipping cocktails in the sun while being gently pummelled by the hydromassage was hard to beat!
RECOMMEND TO: Honeymooners, romantic couples or anyone who loves a little bit of style. Bright, airy and open, this is a perfect spot for chilling out after a hectic tour and will combine well with a busy few days in Rio. The master suite with its own Jacuzzi is fantastic and perfect for honeymooners.
THE COST: Stay seven nights pay six until Dec 15 2010. £64pp per night including breakfast Standard Garden View Room
THE DETAILS: T. (55 22) 2623 1546
Beautiful position, great relaxed atmosphere and excellent service. This is a true boutique hotel stylishly finished with lots of nice little touches but completely unpretentious. Visitors here will never tire of the view!
Senior journalist, Selling Long Haul