Casas Brancas Boutique Hotel & Spa
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Travel Blogs from Buzios
Hello from Brazil!
This is the last destination on our mammoth tour. Not a bad place to finish.
We started the Brazilian adventure in Sao Paulo. What a city! A city with over 11 million inhabitants. It has the most successful Ferrari dealership in the world, the highest number of billionaires and millionaires in …
We slept most of the night flight, which we were thankful for later when it turned out to
be the most stressful day of our trip.
We landed at San Paulo in Brazil and had 2 hours before our flight to Rio. Which would have been OK if LAN airlines hadn't decided to take our bags off the plane in Lima as the plane was too heavy due to a fault …
So we have arrived, in the appropriately named town of Buzios, 3hr north-east of Rio de Janiero. We flew BA from Heathrow to Rio, via Sao Paolo, and all went very smoothly. Getting out of the airport was a slightly different matter, negotiating between taxi drivers, car hire and private minibuses, eventually taking the option to travel with other …
... and cheese at the back. The epitome of the variety store. Other than doing some shopping, eating, strolling through the town, sitting on the beach, eating, sitting by the pool, reading, relaxing, eating, there is not a lot to do in Buzios. We even go a few days without taking a picture or taking notes about what we are seeing. What a perfect place. We thought we had challenges in the various Spanish speaking countries making ourselves ...
... Not a
cloud in the sky, cobble stone streets, perfect breeze and weather. At
the first beach we went to there were inner tube and banana boat rides
so of course we took a banana boat ride. The town very much resembled
the south of France. That night we went to a great pizza restaurant and there was a small
music group playing outside for entertainment. Great fun.
Saturday February 13, 2010
There are numerous beaches in ...
How has this hotel rated in the past?
Historical Traveler Reviews Casas Brancas Boutique Hotel & Spa Buzios
Gorgeous hotel, service needs improvement
My husband and I spent 4 days at Casas Brancas in November for our honeymoon. We agree with many of the comments here. The hotel is quite chic and stylish. We were greeted with champagne and were wowed by the incredible view.
The hotel is very close to the great restaurants and night clubs in Buzios, though it would greatly benefit from having a back door/stairway access to the main street in Buzios, rather than requiring guests to walk down a slippery cobblestone road that gets VERY DARK at night.
We enjoyed the hotel restaurant, although it, like the rest of the hotel, is horribly susceptible to mosquitoes at night. A few additional citronella candles likely would have helped. O
ur room and bathroom were a nice size, and we loved the view from our window. We could not, however, open our windows because of the mosquitoes. The air conditioning is loud, and forceful. The room was often either too warm or too cold.
We each enjoyed great massages in the spa. The hot tub, however, was broken for almost all of our stay. Considering that it rained 2 of our 4 days in Buzios, we were really looking forward to using the hot tub and were disappointed that it was out of commission.
The pool is laughably small and does not appear to have been heated. Worse, the restaurant does not serve what we considered "poolside" food. Maybe we're downmarket, but when we're at the pool we'd rather eat french fries and other finger food than a full red snapper meal. However, since the restaurant considers itself one of the finest in Buzios (and it very well may be), they offered only their "fine restaurant" fare, poolside, or not. Most of the other top ranked hotels we've visited have separate "poolside" menus. Just a suggestion.
Worst of all, however, was the horrible stench that permeated our room on our last night. It seemed obvious to us that there MUST have been a problem with the sewer system. When we complained, the person on duty insisted that the smell was just "the sea." When we wouldn't accept that excuse (having just come inside from a night walking along the waterfront) and demanded that he come and check out the smell for himself, he insisted that we must have left food out. We immediately shot down that suggestion, and he admitted that MAYBE there was a sewer problem. The solution: he sprayed air freshener, but refused to switch us to a new room, arguing that he lacked authority to do so. By the way, opening the windows was not an option because of the mosquito problem.
The next morning, we again comlained to the hotel staff. Again, as if someone had pressed play on a tape recorder, the staff insisted the smell came from the sea; then they asked whether we'd left food out. We had to INSIST that someone go to the room and smell for herself, and she FINALLY, BEGRUDGINGLY admitted that the smell MIGHT be a sewer problem, but that she had no authroity to do anything about it except contact the hotel owner, who of course she could not reach. We checked out later that day to travel to our next destination, but the hotel would not offer us any concession for what turned out to be a VERY long, smelly and uncomfortable night.
Bottom line: pretty, chic boutique hotel, but next time we're staying at Hotel El Cazar.
Awesome honeymoon hotel
We knew this was going to be good when we were welcomed with caipirinhas and a tour! Our superior, ocean-view room (#6) was really cute, and we loved all the common areas -- including lounge, dining, spa and pool. Had fabulous and reasonably priced (by US standards) massages. Breakfast was awesome. The front desk staff spoke good English and was very helpful.
Another couple said their garden-view room attracted a lot of mosquitoes, so if you're bite-prone, definitely request somthing ocean-facing.
Best Hotel in Buzios bar none
My wife and I were in Brazil for a wedding and spent 4 days and 3 nights at Casas Brancas. It was simply fantastic. We saw the other Pousadas in the area and none hold a candle to Casas Brancas. My wife had a spa treatment which was very affordable and quite good. It came with a free bikini and pair of havaiana flip flops. Breakfast was nice and always included. It is an absolute MUST that you request either room 14 or 21. They are the largest suites with huge balcony terraces. They were ridiculously affordable at about $220/night for how great they were. The town is VERY safe and fun to walk around with most shops staying open late. The various restuarants were also all pretty good.
The hotel has two high speed internet computers always available, so there's no need to bring your own (no connection in the room anyway). The concierge is also very helpful in setting up daytime activities.
The only negative is that the pool is quite small and lounge chairs are not easy to come by. But the hotel doesn't have that many rooms, so it's generally not a problem.
Best Setting in Buzios
We stayed at Casas Brancas for 3 nights in August. We loved it. The setting is incredibly beautiful. The restaurant, pool and sitting area overlook the bay / sea. Buzios is a very crowded, developed resort and Casas Brancas is in the middle of town but when hanging out on the terrace it is beautiful and relaxing. We found the staff to be very friendly and helpful. (We asked for a room change and they were very accomodating.) The food was wonderful including the breakfast. We are American but speak Portuguese and most of the staff automatically spoke to us in English. Some things to be aware of:
- Casas Brancas is relatively inexpensive. The rooms are aesthetically appealing, simple and not huge. It's not a 5 star luxury resort, but for the price I was pleasantly surprised and really happy with our room. We were on one of the upper floors and had a small terrace overlooking the sea.
- There is a wide range in the rooms because the hotel has several floors. The rooms on the lower level are closer to the street and are much noisier and don't have the great view.
- The feel of Casas Brancas is a hip boutique hotel.
Fantastic Choice in Buzios!
We had a fantastic stay at this hotel. Our room (17) had a balcony with 2 deck chairs overlooking the bay - absolutely gorgeous view! The furnishings while not the fanciest were appropriate for the room and the houskeeping service was excellent (twice daily). The breakfast, included in the rate, included omelettes and bacon & eggs along with the array of fresh fruit, breads and juices.
The dinner we had there one night was quite good. The service was quite attentive, even with some language challenges. The lunchtime meal poolfront was just right for a lighter meal. All eating locations have the same view of the bay.
The staff were very attentive and offered excellent suggestions on restaurants outside the hotel and sights to visit. The location of the hotel is very condusive to walking into the center of town (and Rio de Piedras - the shopping street).
The spa was a real treat as well. It may have been a promotion at the time, but along with my massage, I received a free pair of havainas and a bikini - only in Brazil! The masseuse was very polite and the spa offered a relaxing atmosphere.
The only thing we wish the hotel offered were better beach towels and some extra mats or something for the beach. Also, while there are some beaches nearby you can walk to, you are much better off driving towards some of the other beaches in the area.
I would recommend this hotel highly and if ever in Buzios, would certainly return!
More good bits than bad bits!
So we have just returned from a week at Casas Brancas. What will hit you when you arrive at the place is the view from the hotel...it is truly spectacular if not filmworthy!...nestled in the hills just above Buzios Bay with its picturesque fishing boats. Sunsets are unforgettable - enough said!
So now on to the accommodation. There are about 30 rooms at the hotel, but all very different. Be sure to book ahead and get a sea view. We booked a little late and still got a sea view room with a small balcony which was nice, but the room itself was pretty small with a bathroom that was not much bigger than one on an airplane, and the wardrobe was amusingly tiny - half of which was taken up by an unnecessarliy large minibar fridge. SO - try and also get a suite (doesnt cost you much more than a regular room but they are in short supply) and either way DONT PACK A LOT - Buzios is very very informal and anyway you can always pick up some cheap extras when you are out there. Another thing in the rooms is that the beds are rock solid which became a little more uncomfortable with time.
The common parts were nice, especially in the evening when it was all candle lit. Enough said about the very very small pool.
Service was one small hiccup - I'm not sure that it was Casas Brancas specific or more a cultural thing - but many of the staff are not overly friendly or welcoming - in fact it bordered on "cold". This is in marked contrast to our experiences in Mexico, much of Asia and indeed other parts of South America, where most of the locals in the tourist areas bend over backwards to greet you, engage in small talk and create a warm hospitable atmosphere.
Food wise, we ate out every night , but breakfasts are nice, though service can again be on the slow side.
The Spa is phenomenal and certainly worth trying - it's not expensive for European standards and they do a wide range of treatments.
Other tips - if you are there for much more than 4 days rent a beach buggy - they are great fun and means you can see much more of the area. They should cost around $30 a day but dont make the mistake we made and get the hotel to arrange it for you (costs you another $20 a day!) - just wander into town on day 1 and you'll come across lots of companies that offer rentals - then just bargain away!
Best beaches in our view were Geriba (the left hand bit facing the sea), Joao Fernandes and Tartaruga.
So overall - this is a nice little place to stay, and as long as you are open minded, then you will have a fabulous time. And if Casas Brancas is reading this...just smile a little more please!
This is undeniably a lovely hotel. Having said that it was filled with some rather pretentious tourists who made a point of talking very loudly about lots of vapid and boring conversation which was really irritating! It would be easy to write this off as bad luck but I feel is characteristic of the hotel as a whole.
This is a cool hotel in the classic sense of the word all conceptual music and washing out of a coconut husk in the bathroom (!). The pool is very small and the rooms get massively hot despite air conditioning that is the decibel equivilent of a 747 taking off.
The other point to bear in mind is that to get to sleep you will have to have the window open but the nighclub which pumps out music until 5am does slightly shatter the illusion of Brazilian tranquility. Having said that the hotel is secure and you feel safe at all times.
In terms of food the hotel restaurant is good as is Bardot on the Beachfront- our meal was slightly spoilt by an American couple loudly planning what I am sure became an extremely messy divorce.
The restaurant is gorgeous as are the communal seating areas. However I would say that this is not for you if you are a fan of creature comforts and total luxury but for a nicely designed and very stylish stay in the centre of a charming beach resort you could not go far wrong.
Some hiccups, but worth it!
I had a wonderful time and totally agree with the reviews that were posted. It's the best place to say --We checked out all the other Pousadas in the area. One bit of advice would be to be clear on exactly the room that you are getting. We requested a veranda specificially and were only told after we went in our room that there was not a veranda available. Instead of being reimbersed they told us that the room we were staying at was the same cost as one with a veranda. It was not agreeable and any other hotel would have made the mix-up known first before waiting for us to complain. They did end up giving us a massage package for free to make it up. Despite this, we had a wonderful time and the hospitality of the staff was amazing! It is also very safe and secure -- there is security on the streets up to the hotel.
Nice Stay at the Casas Brancas
We stayed at the Casas Brancas for a few days at the end of December. The staff was very nice and helpful in terms of restaurants, etc. It has a great location near the main walking street for town and is also within walking distance of the major beaches as well. The rooms were clean, although our bathroom was a bit on the small side and there wasn't much closet space (that may depend on the room you get-we had a standard room with an ocean view). The pool is great with a great view and the restaurant is nice as well, with a great breakfast that is included in the rate. We would stay here again if we go back to Buzios.
Not just White but brilliant
Stayed at Pousada Casas Brancas as part of a 'travelbag' tailor made holiday. The approach to the place from inland initially was not promising, however, as soon as you enter the reception you are immediately impressed with the numerous nice, artistic touches of ornaments and the intricate design of the building. Then you pass through the building and see such a simply wonderful view of the bay. This you can view whilst eating [food absolutly superb] or lazing by the albeit small pool. We were there in August [winter] so for us brits the weather was perfect and the sunsets really spectacular. As it was winter there was building work in progress. To get the noisy work completed the management employed large numbers of workmen for one day and took the guests out on a sloop with drinks and food provided. This is really the best part about the place; the staff are absolutely superb, relaxed, professional and highly competent; not intrusive but very perceptive and attentive. Should we ever return to Brazil, this is one place we would revisit.