Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Brazil’s best places to stay: Pousada da Marquesa, Paraty

If the Arpoador Inn in Rio was fit for purpose but lacking in beauty, then the Pousada da Marquesa in Paraty brings both elements together perfectly. It’s situated in Paraty’s old town, right by the harbour, and it’s truly lovely. I would recommend staying in the old town as it’s far prettier than the rest of Paraty and where all the attractions are. I found myself at the Marquesa after failing to stay at the Blue Jungle hostel for the allotted three nights I had planned. Not that there was anything wrong with the Blue Jungle. It has possibly the biggest swimming pool in Paraty and the people who run it are sweet, friendly and helpful. But I’m not 22 anymore, so a biscuit-thin mattress and the surprise visit of a little cockroach at 3 in the morning in the bathroom were enough to make me switch to the Marquesa. Still, if you are 22, on a budget and less of a princess, you could do a lot worse than the Blue Jungle. As well as the pool and the great staff, it’s excellent value for money (about £30 per night), set in attractive surroundings, with clean rooms. Not that the Marquesa was expensive. It was cheaper than the Arpoador Inn at 270 Brazilian Reais (£100) and immeasurably lovelier. With its dark wood interior, offset by the bright white walls and high ceilings, the Marquesa has a colonial elegance that is in perfect harmony with Paraty’s own history. The beds were so super-comfortable and the rooms quiet, despite looking out onto the square. The Marquesa also has a small swimming pool, lovely views of the square and the breakfast is delicious. As well as fruit and eggs, it was the first hotel I stayed at that served bolo salgado (savoury cake). It’s like a vegetable quiche but without the pastry and with a more solid consistency. I doubt I’m selling it to you, but put it this way: my friend Becky, who is the biggest meat lover I know after my dad, and one of the fussiest eaters I’ve ever met, loves bolo salgado. The Marquesa is also where all the authors who take part in the annual literary festival FLIP stay. Its walls as covered in black and white photographs of writers including Paul Auster and Margaret Atwood. If you’re planning on going to Paraty during FLIP, then don’t expect to stay at the Marquesa – all rooms are reserved for the writers. But at any other time of the year, I’d say it’s the best place to stay in Paraty – I wouldn’t bother looking elsewhere.

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