Alto do Humaitá 10, Centro Búzios, RJ, CEP: 28950-000, Brazil
In the 1960s, Armação dos Búzios first got on the radar of the rich and famous thanks to Brigitte Bardot. Now known as the St. Tropez of South America, Búzios attracts celebrities year-round, and many of them have stayed at Casas Brancas.
Just two hours from Rio de Janeiro, the boutique hotel provides an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. From the very moment you set foot in the lobby, an ambiance of tranquility reigns. Soothing music plays in the background, as the friendly, multi–lingual staff greets you upon arrival. Look to your left, and a black–and–white, artsy video shows elephants trotting across a desert in slow motion. Soon, you, too, will be able to unwind in these serene surroundings.
In tune with the lobby, the rest of the hotel is kept in white tones – after all, “Casas Brancas” means “white houses.” The furniture boasts exquisite, light–colored wood. Vases of fresh flowers embellish the interiors, where half-transparent curtains blow peacefully in harmony with the incoming ocean breeze.
Stone floors extend from the common areas to the 32 individual rooms. There are five different categories, with the Standard and Classic rooms being on the smaller side. Those who like having ample space should definitely opt for the Superior, Deluxe or Suite. Naturally, those with an ocean view are the top choices. Here, palm trees peek in from each of the windows or balconies, where you can salute the sun each day. Wireless Internet is included and there is even a computer for those who haven’t lugged theirs along.
Unfortunately, Casas Brancas charges extra for use of the spa facilities. Nevertheless, if you do decide to shell out for the spa, you will not be disappointed with the state of the art facilities. The gym, on the other hand, leaves one yearning for a little more; there are only a few machines for aerobic exercises.
Don’t expect to swim laps in the outdoor pool, either; it is rather a large tub to take a refreshing dip in the summer heat. Clearly, this boutique hotel is not meant for the active. Couples on a romantic getaway, on the other hand, will relish a lounge on the main terrace’s white beds. (Note also that children under age five are not allowed in Casas Brancas.)
Whether you are coming as a newlywed or on a retreat with the gals, be sure to savor the culinary delights at Casas Brancas. Included in the hotel price is a delicious breakfast buffet, with all the standards from sliced fruit to granola to different kinds of bread, cheese and ham. A highlight is the quiche of the day, made fresh each morning. Eggs can also be ordered to suit your wishes.
Throughout the day, the breakfast location transforms into “Café Atlántico,” one of the two restaurants at Casas Brancas. Here, Mediterranean classics, such as the seafood risotto, fuse with a Brazilian touch, such as the Gazpacho enriched by watermelon alongside couscous with crispy vegetables. The staff can not only advise you on the fish of the day. They are moreover open to accepting your suggestions; a virgin Mojito isn’t on the menu, but will appear magically if you ask for it.
At boardwalk level, you will find “Deck,” the second restaurant. Within walking distance of the Brigitte Bardot statue, Deck prides itself on Italian traditions, coupled with local specialties. With the candles lit at dinnertime, Deck is a charming end to the day. The only downside: the numerous stairs you will have to climb to get back to your room at the top of the hill. This is a general shortcoming of Casas Brancas; it is not easily accessible from the boardwalk.
It appears that the tendency among guests at Casas Brancas is to stay within the hotel property. Considering that Búzios is unique because of its twenty–seven different beaches, this is rather ironic. However, should you be keen on exploring, Casas Brancas can help you out; the owners also run the beautiful beach lounge and restaurant Rocka Fish at Praia Brava. Here, you can continue lounging on white beds while waiters dressed in skimpy shorts will bring you cocktails. Stay for lunch, and you can savor the fish they just caught this morning. Then, you can have them drive you back to Casas Brancas—also in their skimpy shorts, if you so please.
Total Number of rooms: 32
Published rates: $187 to $370
Review by Isabel Eva Bohrer, photos by the author except where indicated.