B&B and beyond: La Maison Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

With just five rooms modelled on different corners of the globe, this guesthouse offers an intimate stay, says Graeme Green

This elegant little guesthouse is so successfully tucked away in Rio's affluent Gavea neighbourhood that taxi drivers might struggle to find it. Once there, though, that seclusion will be welcome. The hillside La Maison is around 10 minutes' drive west from the beaches and shops of Leblon and Ipanema and further still from the hectic whirl of Copacabana. Its balconies and terraces look out across Gavea, the greenery of Tijuca (the largest urban forest in the world) and, off in the distance, the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

 

The bed

The five rooms represent different corners of the globe. I stayed in the black and white Copacabana suite (Brazil), where a long green stalk on a single potted white flower was the only flash of colour amid neat bed linen (white, with black trim), white woodwork and cupboards, and black and white vintage photos of Rio on black and white striped walls. It was luxurious, but simple and uncluttered, as are the other rooms: Recamier (Europe), Shanghai (China), Tiffany (New York) and a very pretty green and pink Ganesha (India).

Each room has an iHome centre, but no TV and no mini bar. There is Wi-Fi but the connection is hit and miss. With a maximum of 12 guests, the outdoor pool is never crowded.

The breakfast

Served in a cool, airy poolside room with lots of glass and mirrors, breakfast starts with a selection of exotic fruits, fresh juice, tea or coffee. That's followed by a little tray of mini breads and pastries, served in a selection of neat little trays, pots and bowls, all in white. In short: a breakfast in keeping with the stylish surroundings.

 

The hosts

La Maison is owned by French brothers Jacques and François Dussol. Jacques manages the property with his wife Aruza, while François was responsible for designing the interiors. Jacques, who's lived in Rio for eight years, was a little distracted during my stay after the recent arrival of his baby daughter and some maintenance work that was taking place, but he and Aruza were always happy to help out by offering location information, maps and helping to organise tours. The brothers also own another Rio property, the upmarket guesthouse La Suite (lasuiterio.com) in Joatinga, run by François.

 

The weekend

You're likely to spend a lot of your time either on the beaches of Leblon and Ipanema, or poolside at the hotel. If you are travelling with children, Gavea's Planetarium (00 55 21 2274 0046; planetariodorio.com.br) is a good way to spend a few hours. A five-minute drive east takes you to the neat corridors of amazingly tall palm trees in the 200-year-old Botanical Gardens (00 55 21 3874 1808; jbrj.gov.br), beneath the precipitous slopes of Tijuca National Park, crowned with Christ the Redeemer. As with most parts of the city, rich and poor live side by side: next to upmarket Gavea is Rocinha, the largest favela in Rio. Favela tours provoke mixed feelings: an educational trip for visitors that benefits the local community, or turning the lives of poor people into a human safari? Jacques tries to avoid the latter by booking small-scale tours for guests with Paolo, a former resident of Rocinha (75 reais, written BRL75, about £27).

 

The pit stop

Guimas (00 55 21 2259 7996; restauranteguimas.com.br) at Rua Jose Roberto Macedo Soares 5 is a small bistro that's a quick taxi ride away. It's popular with locals, especially bohemian types. There are several Brazilian dishes on the menu, including picadinho, a Carioca speciality with meat, rice, farofa and poached eggs. A meal costs about BRL39 (£14) per person.

The bottom line

La Maison pitches itself as an intimate alternative to the big, impersonal Rio beachfront hotels. In terms of location, there are more pleasant areas to stay than the suburbs and shop-filled streets of Gavea. But when you're not at the beach, you're most likely to be back at the house, feeling comfortable and classy inside these stylish walls.

Families are welcome, but La Maison feels more like a romantic getaway for couples: it's almost criminal to come alone.

 

The essentials

La Maison Rio, Rua Sergio Porto 58, Gavea, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (00 55 21 3205 3585; lamaisonario.com). B&B starts at BRL385 (£140) double. A transfer from the airport can be arranged for BRL120 (£44).

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to American media group
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidate on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    SCRUM Master

    £30 - 50k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a SCRUM Master to joi...

    Franchise Support Assistant

    £13,520: Recruitment Genius: As this role can be customer facing at times, the...

    Financial Controller

    £50000 - £60000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A successful entertainment, even...

    Direct Marketing Executive - Offline - SW London

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A fantastic opportunity h...

    Day In a Page

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
    Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

    'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

    The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

    From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
    Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

    Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

    A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
    The 10 best smartphone accessories

    Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

    Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

    Liverpool v Real Madrid

    Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
    West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

    Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
    Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

    A new American serial killer?

    Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
    Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

    Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

    Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
    Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

    Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

    Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
    Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

    Wildlife Photographer of the Year

    Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
    Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

    Want to change the world? Just sign here

    The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?