Mama Ruisa, Rio de Janeiro $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
A colonial-style house in the leafy hillside district of Santa Teresa provides the backdrop for Mama Ruisa, a design-minded B&B that offers personalized service, well-crafted interiors, and stunning views of Guanabara Bay. French owner Jean Michel Ruis uses the building's burnished antique floorboards and whitewashed walls to maximize sensations of space. The vast sitting room, for instance, warmed by occasional splashes of vibrant color from heliconia blooms and tropical orchids, swallows six-seater sofas with ease and reduces three-foot-high pottery urns to mere ornaments. Ruis displays his irreverent collection of religious kitsch with relish, adorning the hotel's entrance with a shrine to Santeria, and prominently placing a naively hewn Bahian idol above a battered stucco statue of a saint. The seven rooms resonate with simple elegance, which outweighs occasional lapses, such as uninspired bathrooms and lighting ill-adjusted for reading. Each morning the friendly staff serves a filling breakfast on an iron-fenced balcony, preparing guests for a day's exploration of Santa Teresa's cobbled backstreets. Guests here aren't interested in the beach; afternoons are spent lazing in the delectable garden, where a brace of trees tower over the pool, and the hillside dips abruptly down, providing uninterrupted views across the bay to the hills of Niterói.
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