If you choose to stay overnight in Petrópolis, aside from a handful of basic options in the commercial center there are several nice hotels in the older, residential neighborhoods. An even larger number of pousadas—often quite posh and set in the midst of gorgeous landscapes—are located in the mountains surrounding town, but you’ll need a car to get to reach them.
Pousada 14 Bis (Rua Buenos Aires 192, tel. 24/2231-0946, www.pousada14bis.com.br, R$130–180 d) is centrally situated and fetchingly rustic to boot. Named after Santos Dumont’s historic plane, the lounge pays homage to the homegrown aviator/inventor with a smattering of engaging artifacts related to his life and times. Rooms are cozy and comfortable.
Occupying an attractive European-style manor built in 1814, Pousada Magister (Rua Monsenhor Bacelar 71, tel. 24/2242-1054, www.pousadamagister.com.br, R$165–180 d) is in the midst of all of Petrópolis’s historic attractions. The comfortable rooms lack much of a decorative scheme—giving undue attention to the somewhat twee floral bedspreads (rooms are named after flowers)—but all boast soaring ceilings, immense windows, and polished wood floors.
Despite a steep uphill walk from the center of town, the Pousada Monte Imperial (Rua José de Alencar 27, tel. 24/2237-1664, www.pousadamonteimperial.com.br, R$195 d) is worth the physical exertion. With friendly service and small but cozy rooms offering views of the town below, this pousada is a lovely rural retreat within spitting distance of Petrópolis proper.
Surrounded by mansions that once belonged to barons and counts, Hotel Solar do Império (Av. Koeler 376, tel. 24/2103-3000, www.solardoimperio.com.br, R$343–500 d) will make you feel quite regal. In fact, this ornate 1875 mansion provided refuge for Princesa Isabel while her own palácio down the street was undergoing renovation. The stately rooms are decorated with period furniture, while offering all modern conveniences. Amenities include a swimming pool and spa, and the Leopoldina restaurant. The pretty landscaped grounds are filled with flowers, classical statues, and a lagoon.
If you do have a car, and some bucks to boot, consider treating yourself to the natural and man-made luxuries proffered by the Tankamana Eco Resort (Estrada Júlio Capua, Vale do Cuiabá, tel. 24/2222-9181, www.tankamana.com.br), whose welcome ritual includes fresh flowers, chocolate truffles, and bath salts. Idyllically located in the gloriously isolated Cuiabá Valley, this back-to-nature resort features spacious log and stone cabins—outfitted with king-sized beds, DVD and CD players, and whirlpools—that are laid out to ensure maximum privacy. The hotel organizes walking and horseback-riding excursions through the surrounding mountains, but you can also easily stay put and unwind at the hotel’s private waterfall.
Among other delicacies, the restaurant serves up inspired versions of the regional specialty: fresh trout. Service is both discreet and attentive, and kids under 14 are not permitted. The resort is 37 kilometers (23 miles) from Petrópolis—take the Estrada Aldo Gelli—near the town of Itapaiva.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition