A pub with rooms, a B&B or a boutique hotel... These terms are all hot tags for current holiday accommodation. Independent and intimate, these options are a world away from bland and predictable hotel chains, and will often help to define and personalise your experience abroad — without any compromise in quality or comfort.
Every country has its own term for a B&B; the Brazilian word is 'pousada' — literally 'place to stay'. Similarly to their European cousins, pousadas come in all shapes and sizes and are of varying quality, but in a country bigger than the whole of Europe combined, the trick is finding the special ones. To help you make sense of this diverse country is Hidden Pousadas Brazil, a site that has been conceived to take the hassle from — and add to the magic of — holidays in Brazil.
Alison McGowan, the website editor, arrived in Brazil in the late Seventies and immediately fell in love with the country. After a stint setting up Brazil's first Oxford University Press and then her own educational marketing company, Alison split her time between the UK and Brazil before returning to South America for good in 2002. Like all the best ideas, Hidden Pousadas Brazil was born over a few drinks at a very special pousada in Bahia. As Alison recalls, 'I arrived super stressed but after a couple of Caipirinhas on the beach, I just felt all the angst ebbing away. I realised I was in paradise and knew plenty of people who would like to find it too."
Brazil might be booming (the economy is expected to become the fifth largest by the end of 2012, surpassing the UK), but its holiday industry is still developing. Understanding the needs of the modern traveller led to the accumulation of this unique package of handpicked pousadas (Alison really does visit every one). There are options to suit most budgets and the website is digestible and easily navigated with comprehensible search breakdowns. Are you looking for an eco stay offering ceramic workshops and baby facilities? Perhaps you would prefer a gay-friendly, yoga break with fabulous food? From the pictures to the personal comments, every detail has been designed to give you an honest taste of the best Brazil has to offer. And if you still can't find what you're looking for, there's a link for you to ask Alison directly. hiddenpousadasbrazil.com
Three of the best Brazilian pousadas:
Rio de Janeiro: Casa Florence, Leblon
Home to Alison McGowan, editor of Hidden Pousadas, and also the business' HQ, this penthouse apartment is exclusive; only one guest bedroom ensures you will have the place — and the host — to yourself. Read full review
Ilha Grande: Vila Pedra Mar
There are no cars on Ilha Grande and the only way to approach Vila Pedra Mar is by boat. It's quite an entrance. The house hangs dramatically over the ocean, camouflaged by the jungle behind it and looming like a lair from a James Bond novel. Read full review
Búzios: Chambres d'Hôtes Outre-Mer
Chambres d'Hôtes Outre-Mer is on one of many rows of new-build homes in Búzios, facing the sea and a short walk from Praia da Ferradura, a charming horseshoe-shaped bay with excellent swimming opportunities and a few beach bars. Read full review