On the coast between Sao Paulo and Rio lies the picture-book pretty Paraty, its traffic-free cobbled streets and historic squares fringed by colonial buildings, white-washed with colourfully painted wooden roofs and shutters; palm trees sway above jaunty, bright little boats, bobbing on the bay. The small town’s Portuguese architecture is well preserved and deeply charming.
It can get lively too, when Flip, a major international literary festival, descends on the town in July (flip.org.br). Paraty also hosts music, photography and even cachaça festivals. All these have raised its profile, and Paraty is stuffed with pousadas – the local version of a B&B – of varying quality. Casa Turquesa stands as one of the very best.
Situated in the historic quarter, right next to the harbour, it’s a calm haven, combining buckets of rustic charm with slick modern touches. The owner renovated the building from a tumble-down wreck, while retaining fragments of chunky old stone walls. Out by the pool and patio, these are covered in lush foliage – ferns and orchids sprout, banana and orange trees grow and palms wave softly above.
Guests change into Casa Turquesa-branded Havaianas flip-flops on arrival, bestowing a chilled-out vibe from the moment you step through the door – aided by the house cocktail (blue curaçao, cachaça and lime) that’s delivered straight to your hand.
The cocktail introduces the guesthouse’s turquoise theme, which is seen in everything from the painted shutters to the stationery. Elsewhere, cool white curtains drape over the thick soft beds; sun-loungers lie temptingly around the pool and a chic library area housing yet more sofas ensures there are places to stretch out and relax everywhere you look.
The nine rooms are all spacious, classy and cool: polished wooden floors and beamed ceilings; brass light fittings and exposed brickwork. Showers are blissfully powerful and hot. Prettily retro-packaged toiletries are provided.
Other thoughtful details include beach towels and Wellington boots, for whatever the weather. There are also televisions in the rooms and free Wi-Fi.
A fruit salad in a Martini glass showcases some of Brazil’s fine fruits, accompanied by freshly squeezed orange juice and warm, caramelised bananas. Tea or coffee are served with breads, pastries and pao de queijo – cheesey dough balls, very Brazilian and very moreish. Cheeses and meats are on offer too, and they’ll make eggs or a toasted sandwich for you, if you can find room. Whatever happens, make sure you squeeze in the tasty little Portuguese coconut queijadas (sponge cakes).
Tete Etrusco has lived in this quiet area of Paraty for 20 years, but only opened Casa Turquesa in 2008, after renovating the buildings that had partially burnt down in a fire 40 years ago. Tete planned to live in the top room, as a little studio attic flat. “When I started, I only had two cats. By the time I finished, I also had two dogs – and a husband!” So, she explains, they now live in the adjacent house.
If you’re there for the festivals, time soon fills up, but there are plenty of other attractions too. Paraty’s beach is nice for a stroll or sunbathe. For swimming, it’s better to get a bus or a taxi (about R$100/£27) to the beautiful beach of Trindade. Or join a schooner tour (from around R$30/£8) for a spot of island hopping and snorkelling. Stroll around Paraty’s cobbled streets, looking in at pretty old churches and shopping for handicrafts, then catch a performance at the little puppet theatre – Teatro de Bonecos (paraty.com.br).
The pit stop
Casa do Fogo (00 55 24 3371 3163; casadofogo.com.br) is a fun spot for dinner. You can watch everything go up in flames as chefs flambé vegetables, seafood and meat in slugs of cachaça. The results are tasty stir-fries, best served with a caipirinha or two. Mains cost from R$30 (£8) and are soundtracked by chilled renditions of 1960s Brazilian classics.
Punto Divino (00 55 24 3371 1348; puntodivino.com) offers more old-walls-and-tropical-vegetation styling. It’s a lively appealing place with a wide selection of Italian-influenced dishes. Service and diners are relaxed. You can while away the evening in the courtyard over a bottle of wine and live traditional music. Mains from R$25 (£7).
Casa Turquesa, Rua Doutor Pereira, 50 Centro Historico, Paraty, Brazil (00 55 24 3371 1037; casaturquesa.com.br). Doubles start at R$1,265 (£336), including breakfast.