Rua Almirante Barroso, 161, Rio Vermelho – Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
If you feel like a celebrity upon entering the Zank Boutique Hotel in Salvador, you’re not the first: some of Brazil’s rich and famous have been known to seek out the fashionable Zank. Even if you’re not a star, Zank’s all–white décor and cliff–top ocean views will make you feel like one.
Zank is owned by three sisters who are as stylish as the hotel they coaxed out of an aging, colonial–style mansion. It sits in Salvador’s upscale Rio Vermelho neighborhood, a bohemian area that the celebrated Brazilian writer Jorge Almado once called home. In the past few years, the area has emerged as a popular Salvador nightlife spot, and for good reason. It is filled with a variety of restaurants, bars and music venues. Luckily for Zank guests, all of these are just a short walk or cab ride away from the hotel.
Guests looking to immerse themselves in the vibrant culture and gorgeous architecture of Salvador’s old city, the Pelourinho district, will need to withstand a winding, 15–20 minute taxi ride. Happily, the hotel keeps on staff a couple of trusted taxi drivers who will transport Zank lodgers anywhere in the city, thus sparing them the unscrupulous practices of many of the city’s drivers.
Zank itself consists of two adjacent buildings. A nineteenth-century mansion houses the reception area, the restaurant and three guest rooms. Next door is a modern construction that contains fifteen guest rooms, a small bar, a library with a computer available for guests, a small conference room, a rooftop pool, and a spa. Both buildings open into a romantic courtyard with several seating areas and a coconut–tree garden.
The beauty of the place is in the details. The owners, one of whom is an interior designer, spent months developing a unique style for the hotel as a whole and for each individual room. They handpicked art and furniture from all over Brazil, some of which was created by famous Brazilian designers. What they couldn’t find, they made themselves—the restaurant’s stunning chandelier speaks to their skill in that regard.
Each of the hotel’s eighteen rooms represents a different architectural style. Guests may choose among suites from the Baroque, Modernist, Colonial, Tropicalist and Brazilian Roots eras, among others. Frequent guests often settle on a favorite room, while others explore a new style on each visit. While the furnishings in each room vary, an understated, tasteful look prevails throughout.
When booking a room, guests should note that Room Two in the old house is much smaller than the others and that the rooms in the new building have floor–to–ceiling windows that afford superb views of the turquoise sea below. Additionally, a few rooms have open showers with limited privacy that may be inappropriate for certain guests.
Zank offers guests amenities often found only in larger accommodations. Among these are a roof-top lap pool, jacuzzi and sauna, and an elegant spa that provides massages and a full selection of body treatments. Breakfast, which is included in the price of the room, consists of a wide variety of local fruit, juices, breads, meats, cheeses and eggs.
Although Zank advertises a full menu for lunch and dinner, its small restaurant is often completely empty, with no signs of diners or staff. Good thing an array of restaurants wide enough to suit even the most scrupulous diner waits just around the corner.
If you want a large full-service hotel, the Convento do Carmo might suit you better. For design-conscious guests and small hotel lovers, however, this gem with a view is the tops in town.
Web Address: www.zankhotel.com.br
Total Number of rooms: 18
Published rates: $341 to $409 BB
Review and photos by Derek and Shanna Singh Hughey