As my situations in life change and I find myself growing from the cheap backpacker I once used to be, I’ve found myself craving the odd bit of luxury here and there. I find it is a sure way to open your eyes to new views of a city and often draws you to explore a place you previously haven’t.
The best kind of luxury is one you treat yourself to when there is a special occassion. A luxury that feels so deserved you don’t mind spending more money that normal on a single nights stay. I’m not talking Airbnb here either, which seems to have become my default accommodation choice in the past year. I’m talking the kind of luxury that only hotels and guesthouses offer, the kind that I could never bring myself to stay at for more than one night. But this luxury didn’t just stop at accommodation, I’m talking about restaurants and once in a lifetime adventures too.
Here is how my boyfriend and I celebrated being together for five years.
Our day of luxury started at the Lagoa, or to be more precise the Lagoa helipad. We had talked about taking a flight over Rio ever since JP moved here and today seemed like the perfect day to do so. We had carefully chosen which route we wanted to take out of the handful they offer and checked the weather a dozen times before heading over. Typically, we arrived to be told you need a minimum of 3 people for a ride and no one else was waiting for trip number 3. Feeling a little deflated we handed over a phone number and headed to find some lunch at one of the nearby restaurants.
We opted for Arab, who serve an eastern style menu, which is a rare find for Rio. We had only just put in our food order when we got the call to say another person was looking to take trip 3, meaning we were up to the magic number of people we needed for the trip. Still, we had order and were starving so pushed our luck by saying we’d be 20 minutes. We had ordered a sharing plate with dips, pitta, falafel etc. and thankfully it arrived rather promptly. Of course we were too concerned with eating it quickly to get back, that no photos were taken.
A Helicopter ride over Rio
As we arrived back to the heliport we found our fellow rider and began to fill out the necessary forms and pay the rather large fee of R$690, yes I meant it when I said this was a luxurious weekend. Unfortunately the wind temporarily halted our take off but before we knew it the blades were rotating and the Lagoa was disappearing below us. The flight lasted for around 15 minutes and took us along Ipanema and Copacabana beach to take in views of Sugar Loaf then back again and off towards Corcovado for stunning views of Cristo. There was a little low hanging cloud but that only made the views seem more atmospheric. Rio is a city that was made for viewing from the sky and I was glad about every cent we spent on the helicopter ride. (Full post with photos coming soon!)
From the helipad we jumped in an Uber and headed for Santa Teresa. We were staying in a gorgeous guesthouse on the edge of the Santa Teresa neighbourhood. Altos de Santa Teresa Guesthouse was at the top of a hill and from here the views were incredible, Cristo to the right and Sugarloaf to the left. We received a lovely welcome and were given drinks while we waited to be shown to our room.
A staycation at Altos de Santa Teresa Guesthouse
The guesthouse had a very quaint feel, with the decor remaining much the same as years gone by, even the outer of the building still carried the typical yellow colour of other Santa Teresa buildings. There was plenty of communal space to be enjoyed including an outdoor terrace and a jacuzzi to really make the most of the views on offer. The guesthouse has a handful of rooms and ours, despite being called a standard, seemed extremely luxurious. There was a huge, comfy double bed as you entered the room then further back a walk in wardrobe and large bathroom. See the video above for a full room tour. It was genuinely one of the nicest guesthouses I’ve ever stayed in. The staff were super friendly and helpful, the breakfast was delicious and the late time for check out meant you could leisurely get up the next morning.
Dinner at Aprazível
During our nights stay in Santa Teresa we also treated ourselves to dinner in one of Rio’s best restaurants. Aprazível is located in the heart of Santa Teresa and set into the side of the hill. The views are stunning and the tables are scattered around this unusual setting with mini tree-houses and private booths. I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a restaurant with such a cool outdoors setting. The menu is vast for drinks and food and if you’re anything like me then you’ll spend just as long deciding what to eat as actually eating it. From the dishes we’ve sampled there (yes we’ve been back and eaten there since) I would suggest that whatever you order it is going to be delicious. Just be prepared for the bill at the end of the night as such a unique dining experience does not come cheap.
Have you had a luxury night in Rio? What did you do?