La Suite, Rio de Janeiro $$$$
Concierge.com's insider take:
On a good day, the leafy suburb of Joá lies just 20 minutes by cab from Ipanema; given Rio's congested traffic, however, the trip can easily take more than an hour. So forget about commuting to the city: Seven-room guesthouse La Suite, skewered on a headland above a delightful cove at Joátinga beach, is meant as a romantic getaway. The rocky fastness affords it almost 360-degree views of glistening ocean, the sands at São Conrado, and the towering face of 2,800-foot Pedra da Gávea, which rises near vertically from the rugged coastline; even Christ's statue is visible. You'd never guess from La Suite's nondescript entrance, but what lies within is a cathedral of over-the-top design, the kind of place Carmen Miranda might have decorated (actually, it was French owner François-Xavier Dussol and partner Rodrigo Harold, who set up the similarly extravagant La Maison guesthouse in Gávea). In the sitting room, the pièce de résistance, a 24-lamp black-crystal Baccarat chandelier by Philippe Starck, is almost overshadowed by a cornucopia of objets from French Indochina, such as Vietnamese silk-shaded lamps and bronze candlesticks from Thailand. The same theatricality extends to the rooms: Brilliant primary colors are matched by naturally tinted marble in the bathrooms; the floors are lustrous ipê wood. Given La Suite's stunning view and jaw-dropping interior, it's hard to drag yourself away. While breakfast is included, a chef must be called especially to prepare lunch or dinner, so you'll find yourself cabbing to Ipanema, Barra da Tijuca, or São Conrado, as dining options in Joá proper are limited. It's worth eating in just once, though, if only to admire the jungly patio at night, garlanded with white lights, a circle of palms surrounding a diminutive pool (a larger swimming pool sits on the slope below the house), or to dine on the terrace, gazing out at the lights of sultry nighttime Rio.
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