Escape from the madness of Ipanema.
Few cities are as vibrant and exhilarating as Rio de Janeiro, with its favela-dotted hills, Sugar Loaf and endless white sands. A wild mélange of cultures, its lively nightlife and super-friendly inhabitants make it buzz with energy. Ipanema and Copacabana are stunning beaches to flaunt your itsy-bitsiest bikini on, but they’ve long been on the tourist radar.
A more interesting part of town is Santa Teresa, where you can get into the Carioca lifestyle. Take a tram through the cobblestone streets of this historic Portugese quarter and you’ll find Relais Solar, a modern-minded, five-room guesthouse that’s also a hub for homegrown creative arts with furnishings handmade by locals, crafts for sale and a colourful calendar of cultural offerings. The French-Canadian owner, Gwenaël Allan, has a background in theatre production and calls his new concept ‘creative tourism’. This means that as well as a cheap-chic room for the night, there are activities such as food and drink tastings, music workshops and community tours.
And when you want to kick back, there’s a tranquil tropical garden and honesty bar with all the cachaça and limes you need to blend that perfect caipirinha. In a country with a rich and colourful heritage, Relais Solar celebrates Rio life with style and gusto.
Double rooms at Relais Solar (00 55 21 2221 2117; www.relaissolar.com) cost from £94 including breakfast. For information on visiting Rio de Janeiro, see www.ipanema.com.