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Escapes Vila Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
The warmth of a family home shines in this boutique hillside villa, one of the remaining private houses of Rio’s glamorous 1920’s aristocracy which has been the secret enclave of A-list and artistic minds in search of a creative fix in Santa Teresa’s coveted creative neighborhood. Now we share this secret with you.

Emerald mountains and azure ocean sound-tracked by nothing but soft birdsong and swaying mango trees; the presence of nature lies all around in unobstructed views from Vila Santa Teresa—the perfect base for the multisensory journey that is Rio, Brazil’s cultural capital. In a city where life is lived to the fullest, this is where you’ll have space to savor all of life’s color and vibrancy.


The essence of home permeates the experience here. Four generations of the Monteiro de Carvalho family, one of Brazil’s most entrepreneurial families, have ensured you’re treated more like treasured friends than staying guests. There are no rules to follow – you check-in, dine, swim, explore and sleep to your own schedule. Inside the sophisticated 1970’s modernist villa, you’ll find no big designer names to shout about; instead, details are inspired by the de Carvalho heritage with rooms named after family members, marble staircases and intricate woodwork. And staff seem to anticipate your every whim before you speak—ready with that massage after a long-haul flight or with a homemade cake for your birthday—a result of many serving the family for some 20 years.

Cascading down rainforest-clad hills that rise like nature’s totems over white sands and deep blue ocean—Rio de Janerio has always numbered among the world’s most spectacular cities. And the villa capitalizes on the view from its elevated position. With nothing but soft birdsong breaking the silence here, you’ll be forgiven for forgetting that you’re just moments from the throes of the city. Here you’re sheltered from the urban cacophony within five hectares of lush grounds shaded by eucalyptus trees. From almost every window the view stuns, but our favorite spot was the Claudia room. Standing in complete stillness from the balcony of the Master Suite watching a gradient pink dawn tint the sky over Sugarloaf Mountain; you can’t help but be filled with positivity for the day to come.


For a life lesson in living vibrantly, look no further than Rio’s Cariocas. If you can tear yourself from lounging beside the pool (hard, we know), then head outside the door where you’ll find your driver already waiting to chauffeur you into a world of color and sound. Once an elegant colonial sanctuary for Rio’s old-world elite, now Santa Teresa is a hive of creation where samba bands serenade passers-by. Just ask and the Villa will arrange your private tour of a local artist’s atelier. Or if you’re staying on the first Saturday of the month, the Antiquities Fair on Lap’s Rua do Lavradio is sure to draw an interesting crowd, where locals dance on the streets and people watch from sidewalk cafés. Channel your inner Carioca and let yourself flow to their creative rhythm.


You’ll have some of the city’s best restaurants on your doorstep, but with a number of talented in-house chefs on hand we were tempted to spend every meal home-cooked by our own personal chef (do you blame us?). Everyone is catered for with Brazilian dishes reinterpreted to suit your personal tastes and every dish is served with at least one ingredient from the villa’s organic garden. Think prawns and peach-palm spaghetti, Bahian fish stew, or cheese puffs (‘pao de queijo’) made from a guarded family recipe.


If after getting your fill of Rio’s creativity and hedonism, you feel the need for more peace and cleansing, then just call on the villa’s in-house mind and body experts for a 3-day detox. We started each sun-kissed morning waking up to yoga, dining on mindful food designed by Ayurvedic specialists or famed Carioca nutritionists such as Cynthia Howlett and Isabella Bussade. Then end with a private meditation session followed by a massage under an ancient mango tree—we promise you will feel balanced and unified with the nature around you.


It’s hard to miss the villa’s most distinguishing feature –as soon as you enter it is the incredible 15-meter pool that makes the striking first impression. Enveloped by tropical gardens and with its heart-stopping views of Sugarloaf Mountain and glistening Guanabara Bay below, you could easily spend all of your days in this peaceful haven soaking up the sun’s rays. It’s the best for watching the sun dip over the twinkling lights of Rio’s cityscape—our eyes are still unwilling to give up on those views as we left.

"Standing in complete stillness from the balcony of the Master Suite watching a gradient pink dawn tint the sky over Sugarloaf Mountain; you can’t help but be filled with positivity for the day to come."
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