Planning a Brazilian odyssey this year? Hitting the buzzing streets of Sao Paolo and the happening beach strips of Rio de Janeiro? Heading to the cobbled colonial plazas of Salvador and the foot-taping cantinas of Espirito Santo? There's one type of accommodation you're going to need on your radar: pousadas.
Steeped in Portuguese tradition and reaching all the way back to the days of European colonisation in the Americas, these enticing stays promise something that's full of charm, character and history. They are usually summed up as somewhere midway between a hotel and a bed and breakfast. Classic star ratings don't apply to these folksy lodgings. Instead, they cross all sorts of luxury levels, ranging from the simple and the affordable to the swish and stylish. Most are privately owned, which makes for a truly personalised and tailor-made travel experience, replete with in-the-know tips for the top cantinas and churrasco holes. Others are managed by chains, cranking up the class with plush rooms that burst with blue-hued azulejo tiles and adobe finishes, adding in pools and gardens and cabanas that are perfect for those evenings sipping cold caipirinhas while the Atlantic waves roll in.
It should hardly come as a surprise that there are oodles of pousadas in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil's sprawling, seething, sleepless seaside hub is a metropolis that simply can't be missed. Skipping the glitzy hotels and opting for a whitewashed guesthouse in the pousada style only means more immersion and authenticity.
Up north, along the wave-bashed beaches of Bahia, you'll find even more pousadas in Salvador. They nestle between the age-stained colonial buildings and cobbled streets that make the city such a must-see. The celebrated Pousada Beija Flor is a perfect example, complete with tile-faced exteriors and cosy rooms packed with Latin art.
Meanwhile, the pousadas in Fortaleza offer a perfect intro to Ceara's biggest metropolis. Just outside the door, you're likely to find thumping beach parties erupting along electrifying Praia de Iracema. Back inside and pousadas like Vila Coqueiros aim to crank up the comfort, offering clean-look rooms and palm-shaded gardens, not to mention an outdoor pool and shaded cabanas that give front-row seats over the rollers of the Atlantic Ocean. There's really no stay like a pousada to evoke the hearty hospitality and historic feel of Brazil, with dedicated owners at the ready and blue-tiled interiors aplenty.