By Nelson Belen, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Set in the heart of Ipanema, the Bonita Ipanema Pousada & Hostel offers intrepid travelers the unique opportunity to sleep in the same house that once belonged to one of Brazil’s most celebrated musicians and composers, Antônio Carlos Jobim (Tom Jobim). The Bossa Nova legend lived in the charming house turned hostel from 1962 to 1965, which includes the period when he would compose his country’s most iconic song, one of the most well-known anthems in the world, Garota de Ipanema (The Girl from Ipanema).
With its bright pink exterior, the Bonita Ipanema Pousada & Hostel, on Rua Barão da Torre, is hard to miss. Ideally situated just five minutes from the General Osório metro station, the quaint hostel is just a short walk from Ipanema beach and Lagoa, as well as the many restaurants, bars, and shops of one of Rio’s most fashionable neighborhoods.
Of course, being the former residence of arguably the country’s most renowned artist, at the time when he composed one of the most iconic songs in music history, Bonita Ipanema can easily lay claim to being a neighborhood attraction itself.
Legend has it that in the summer of 1962, Jobim, along with Vinícius de Moraes, penned Garota de Ipanema on napkins at a nearby bar, now named after the famous song, after taking inspiration from one of the neighborhood’s shapely residents.
“We have deep roots in the city of Rio de Janeiro,” explained Carolina Fernandes, one of Bonita Ipanema’s partners, to The Rio Times, “besides being a part of Bossa Nova history, the house has its own unique charm, it can be understood as a summer house, and is frequented by many locals.”
With an extensive background in tourism and hostel management, Fernandes and her two partners, Carina Jallad and Marcelo Cortez, teamed up to open the Bonita Ipanema Pousada & Hostel in 2009.
After Jobim left the house in 1965, it had been converted into a private kindergarten school. Once they acquired the property, the partners began an extensive renovation, restoring some of its history, such as its rustic gardens, while at the same time adding new comforts fitting a top-of-the-line hostel, such as private rooms, reception, an open bar area, and a swimming pool.
“Our goal was to consolidate ourselves as a unique pousada and hostel, where guests can feel truly like a carioca, as they have the opportunity to stay in touch not only with the many locals, but with a little of the city’s everyday life,” expressed Fernandes.
Bonita Ipanema has both private and mixed air-conditioned rooms available, including the same bedroom used by Tom Jobim, which is aptly named, the “Garota de Ipanema” room. Staying true to its musical roots, music is frequently heard in the hostel’s pool and open bar area, whether from a large party, or just a lone guitar player.
“We usually have live music events, carioca barbecues and birthday celebrations,” said Bonita Ipanema marketing manager, Manuela Miró. “We receive groups of friends, backpackers, and families from around the world. Actually, we are one of the few hostels in the area that allow children to stay.”
One of the hostel’s recent memorable visits included a group of seventy Americans who rented the whole house for almost the entire Rio 2016 Olympics. “It was unforgettable both for them and for our staff who had the opportunity to intensely live this unique experience,” exclaimed Miró.
And despite its historic past, according to Fernandes, Bonita Ipanema, continues to look to the future, “Bonita will continue focusing on giving the best carioca experience to it´s guests and it will continue to look forward to having the best integration between guests, staff and a local way to live daily moments in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro.”