By Oliver Bazely, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – Whether you are backpacking on a budget or seeking the perfect pousada, or guesthouse, at any price, the Cidade Maravilhosa has a lot to offer. The sheer number of options available can be confusing, but here are five of the best foreign-run locations across the city where the prospect of an English voice to welcome you might help make the difference to your trip.
Guarded by two magnificent old mango trees, the huge colonial mansion of Casa MangoMango has twelve rooms, a separate dormitory and a self-contained chalet. Most of the rooms feature double beds, en suite bathrooms and original, unique furniture, designed around specific themes such as ‘Brazilian music’ or ‘Afro Brazil’.
The pousada is also located close to the bonde tram line in Santa Teresa, so it is great for exploring the local architecture or the nightlife in Lapa. “We like to create a homely and comfortable atmosphere, where guests often become friends,” says owner Julie Hughes, adding “Great pousadas should be unique and have a personality. Our house has a great history, and we have tried to show that in our rooms.” Rates at Casa MangoMango start at R$130 per night, although dormitory accommodation is cheaper.
Not far away from Santa Teresa, Guesthouse Ananab is located on the hillside of Laranjeiras and enjoys views of both Pão de Acuçar and Cristo Redentor. Belgian artist Dirk and his Brazilian partner Roberto have created a tranquil space in a detached early 20th century house.
The six rooms and self-contained apartment are spread over five floors, with the top level featuring a swimming pool and patio area. Rooms are available either on a monthly or daily basis, with daily rates including breakfast. All residents benefit from laundry service, and have access to the communal kitchen. Monthly rent is R$900 and Guesthouse Ananab is gay friendly.
The Englishman Bob Nadkarni is something of a local legend around Rio, and he has worked hard to establish a truly original bed and breakfast in the heart of the Tavares Bastos favela (don’t let the location put you off). Since 2005, Bob has set up six double en suite rooms and a mixed dorm at The Maze. As well as providing accommodation, the building has previously served as an adult literacy center and pre-natal clinic, although nowadays guests can wander around the art gallery, or take a yoga lesson.
Guests can also relax on the upper veranda and enjoy the panoramic view of Guanabara Bay. There are regular jazz nights at the Maze on the first Friday of each month, and guests are welcome to join in with the festivities. Room rates start at R$60 per night (R$90 high season), or R$35 (R$45) for the dorm, including breakfast.
For those on a budget, Ipanema’s Lighthouse Hostel offers a relaxing place to stay that won’t break the bank. Guests can choose from a comfortable double room (with optional sofa bed), or sleep in the eight person mixed dormitory. Run by Brazilian Sylvia and her New Zealand partner, the emphasis is on ensuring guests make the most of their stay in a friendly and secure environment.
Also located in Santa Teresa, Castelinho 38 is a spacious pousada that features a leafy garden, small bar and ten uniquely designed rooms. Breakfast includes homemade cakes, breads and yogurts and all residents have access to internet facilities.
In addition to these amenities, the Italian-owned Castelinho 38 also has a ‘Wellbeing Space’, where guests can receive alternative treatments such as acupuncture and shiatsu. There is also a large veranda with a view over downtown Rio.