While hotels in the center of Ilhéus are usually good bargains, they tend to be older and not really in mint condition. On the upside, a handful retain some interesting historical character. The Ilhéus Hotel (Rua Eustáquio Bastos 144, tel. 73/3634-4242, www.ilheushotel.com.br, R$50–60 d) is a case in point. Inaugurated in 1930, the block-long hotel was the brainchild of one of richest cocoa barons, who dreamed of building the most modern and luxurious hotel in all of Bahia. At the time, his architectural plans consisted of such novelties as separate bathrooms for men and women, as well as the state’s first elevator (still in operation today). Long since overhauled, the rooms are more modern and modest. However, affordability and some stylish remnants of its glory days compensate.
More numerous and expensive are the many beachfront options along the stretch of coastal road leading south to Olivença. Of particularly good value is the attractive Hotel Praia do Sol (Praia do Sul, tel. 73/3234-7000, www.praiadosol.com.br, R$180 d). Only 5 kilometers (3 miles) away from the center of Ilhéus, this beachfront hotel is surrounded by abundant greenery and offers colorfully decorated, roomy apartments.
Although it’s further afield, for luxurious natural and man-made surroundings, it’s hard to do better than the recently opened Hotel Fazenda da Lagoa (tel. 73/3236-6137, www.fazendadalagoa.com.br, R$880–1,150 d), located 45 kilometers (28 miles) south of Ilhéus. The 14 sprawling bungalows on this former coconut and dendê palm plantation are nestled in a burst of greenery situated between a secluded beach and the Rio Aliança (near the Ecoparque de Una nature reserve). The inspired interior decor mixes colonial antiques with fresh and whimsical pieces by contemporary Brazilian artists. A gourmet restaurant serves a contemporary blend of Bahian and international dishes, while the spa offers relaxing treatments including stone massages and rainforest mud masks. Rates include transportation to and from Ilhéus’s airport.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition