It’s been called the Brazilian St. Tropez and the Hamptons of Rio; basically, it’s this pocket of the planet’s infamous playground for the rich and famous. Welcome to Búzios, Brazil.
I’ve never been to the Hamptons and I couldn’t point out St. Tropez on a map, but I knew I had to go to Búzios. Less than three hours north of Rio de Janeiro, Búzios boasts seventeen beaches strewn around a jutting peninsula so narrowly connected to the mainland, it almost feels like an island.
When Heather and I were invited to experience this extravagance-studded paradise via one of its most sought-after boutique hotels, how could we resist?
Casas Brancas oozes understated luxury. Perched on the far end of Orla Bardot, the town’s charming cobblestone beachfront promenade, it’s just a short stroll from a statue of Brigitte herself. Yup, Brigitte Bardot, the French actress now in her 80’s, is somewhat of a legend in Búzios.
Prior to her “discovery” of Búzios in the 1960’s with her Brazilian boyfriend, this was but a sleepy fishing village. Simple fishing boats still line the harbor, but these days they share dock space with yachts. High-end boutiques, fine restaurants, and posh beach clubs round out the upscale vibe.
Hard as it had been to leave Rio, we were bursting with excitement to reach Búzios. And yet we’d barely made it.
The transfer we’d literally triple confirmed from Rio to Buzios left us cooling our heels on the sidewalks of Copacabana for two hours after handing in the keys to our Airbnb, and we eventually had no choice but to take a $90 Uber if we were to reach our accommodation by nightfall.
Frankly, it was one of the most stressful days we had in Brazil — sitting on the hot curb of a notoriously crime-heavy city with thousands and thousands of dollars in electronics and one slowly dying phone waiting for a confirmed transfer that never arrived and then later being reprimanded for missing it — and it put us in a pretty funky mood.
For now, just know that if you find yourself in Brazil having a terrible day, Casas Brancas is a pretty great place to end it.
And I’d recommend a meal at Rocka thrown in there too, if possible. For ultimate healing.
Yup, I think these dishes might just be able to do the trick.
All jokes aside, Casas Brancas was the perfect place to rest our bruised travel hearts after a hectic day.
The staff was so, so endlessly sweet. I was having a completely unrelated work drama to the one otherwise mentioned below in this post (I know!) — a company that had hired me to review a product shipped it to Brazil, which set off a chain of customs disasters and endless hours on Skype, confused and trying to get it delivered — and Gabriel, the head concierge, was so kind in his attempts to assist me it almost made me cry.
And oh, how chic the design! We agreed, our stylish rooms would have earned a nod of approval from Ms. Bardot herself. A true boutique hotel, all thirty-two rooms are every-so slightly unique.
We had just two nights at Casas Brancas, and we had big plans to make the most of them. Originally, we’d decided on one of the area’s famous boat trips around the peninsula for our first full day in Búzios, but with a so-so forecast we decided to scrap it.
Instead, we kicked off the day with an onsite yoga class followed by an afternoon at Casas Brancas Spa, where Heather treated us each to a package in an attempt to calm my frayed nerves and get us back on relaxation track.
Later that day, as the afternoon faded into evening, the sky cleared enough to allow for a beautiful sunset.
Photo by Heather Holt
Photo by Heather Holt
We were lucky to dine at two restaurants owned by the Casas Brancas group (along with Rocka, which is offsite overlooking Praia Brava beach) — 74, the onsite lunch and dinner restaurant at Casas Brancas, and Mistico at sister hotel Abracadabra. A lot of the food in Búzios is overpriced and underwhelming; here, you won’t be disappointed.
If you’re looking for a splurge in Buzios, you really couldn’t go wrong with either. Just look at that view!
The next day, we enjoyed one last lovely meal at Casas Brancas before moving onward. We’d scheduled two more nights at accommodation slightly closer to the center of town in order to go scuba diving, so while it wasn’t quite time to say goodbye to Búzios, it was time to say goodbye to the luxury that the getaway has become infamous for.
And what better way to toast goodbye than with a decadent breakfast buffet!
Looking back, I regret that I was in such a dark place mentally when we were in such a beautiful one physically. I’ve struggled greatly with how much to share about what was essentially one of the greatest communication disasters of my entire blogging career, which followed me through Brazil and came to a head in poor, blameless Búzios. The missed transfer that left us in tears of frustration was just one piece of a big, messy puzzle. Considering it was a professional issue, it’s not something that would effect you, my dear readers — in which case I’d be obligated, of course, to be much more detailed.
However, I was so deeply effected by the whole ordeal that it had an enormous impact on my trip, and it’s hard to tell my true story of this experiences without mentioning that I was struggling with a professional meltdown in the midst of it.
I’m really not a scorched earth kinda girl, and so I hope you’ll allow me this bit of vagueness, which allows me to be honest with you all without totally burning my blogging house down. For those who are still curious, I’ve written more about the lessons I learned for an upcoming roundup post.
I know this — someday, I’ll return to Casas Brancas with a clear head and a happy heart, just like it deserves.
Next up… Buzios underwater!
I was a guest of Casas Brancas in order to write this review. As always, you receive my honest opinions and thorough recommendations regardless of who is footing the bill. To clarify, they were completely blameless in any of the professional partnerships that left me in tears.
Buzios certainly sounds like the Hamptons of Brazil! That hotel look great, very chic. I’m so sorry you were feeling down while there- sometimes traveling can be amazing and wonderful and sometimes it can downright suck, but in the end you are still glad to be where you were. Excited to hear about diving! And a roundup!!
Yes, a roundup is LONG overdue! I want to write one, I’m just dreading all the comments pointing out how late I am in posting it, ha ha.
I’ve never been to the Hamptons, St. Tropez OR Buzios! I’ve got some work to do.
You’ve been to Martha’s Vineyard — way better 😉
We had the inverse situation on our transfer to Casas Brancas. Through a miscommunication two separate vehicles made their way from Buzios to Rio to pick us up. And both demanded payment for driving the whole day. It messed up the first few hours, but it’s hard to let it bother you in Buzios. I second all of those restaurants as well.
Oh my gosh! Someone else commented on my Facebook share of this post saying they also had a transportation disaster getting to Buzios. At least we know we aren’t alone, ha ha!
Your blogs are amazing! I’m so happy I came across them as we are also planning a trip to Rio and also planing on taking a two day trip to Buzios.
Any chance you can provide the info on the transportation that you guys missed? Also, how did you manage to get back?
Aside from Casa Brancas, do you have any other hotel recommendations for a young couple? Casas Brancas sounds amazing, but it’s a bit over our price range.
Also, how did you get from the airport in Rio to Copacabana/Ipanema?
Hey Lais! Congrats on planning a trip to Brazil! We used the public bus to get back to Rio and an Uber to get there. The private transfer with the terrible communication was arranged by an outside party so unfortunately I don’t have any details. I highly recommend Uber in Brazil — it was a lifesaver! Perfect for the airport. Check out the other guesthouse we stayed in on the very opposite end of the spectrum… nothing fancy but gorgeous ocean views and right in town! Best of luck and enjoy your travels.
More wonderful photos of what must have been a wonderful and happy time
Thanks for the photography kudos, Joanne <3
The hotel looks like an amazing place to stay! Your photos are gorgeous and it looks like there are a lot of really neat touches. Sorry to hear about the work drama :/
Thanks Kaitie! It’s never fun to take something like that on the road but when you travel for a living, it comes with the territory!
I’m sorry to hear your time in Buzios was spoiled by business disasters and transport complications, but thank you for your honesty! The hotel is truly beautiful; hopefully you can return sooner rather than later. It seems you had several frustrations while traveling in Brazil…more than traveling at other destinations. Would you say this is true?
Ha, yes… frankly, I’d say it’s an understatement. I’ve actually been working on a post that kind of sums up my general Brazil feelings, since they were so very complicated. Stay tuned!
You write such beautiful hotel reviews, Alex! I like how honest they are and I like how gorgeous your photography is! One day I will book one of those gorgeous hotels you’ve recommended!
That is such a lovely compliment Dominique! Thank you so much!
This looks lovely… sorry to hear about your meltdown. I think it just shows that wherever we are in the world, sometimes life does not go smoothly or how we’d like. Loving your honesty as always Alex! 🙂
Looking forward to reading the scuba post!!
So true, Janice, a lesson I learned over and over in Brazil. Scuba post all edited and uploaded, can’t wait to publish!
Your posts on Brazil have me absolutely dying to go there. So sorry to hear about all the of the problems that you encountered getting to and while in Buzios. Hopefully you were still able to enjoy the beauty!
Indeed! As you’ll see from my next Brazil post, things definitely started to look up after this 🙂
That hotel looks like a great place to lift your spirits. Bummer that outside forces got you down, but sh*t happens! I’m glad you were still able to get these gorgeous pics to share with us 🙂
Shit does indeed happen 🙂 I was grateful to be in such a gorgeous place, for sure!
Ack…miscommunications in foreign countries are a nightmare. I’m sorry you ran into trouble chica, but from just cruising the photos it looks like such a sunny, happy, beautiful place that I want to go to immediately, so you definitely did it justice!
Thanks babe! That is great to hear — kinda felt guilty dumping my emotional distress into the review of a beautiful hotel, but hopefully any potential guests can see through my angst and get right down to booking 😉
This place totally looks like an island for sure! Last trip out that way we didn’t make it to Rio thanks to long long loooong bus rides but thats okay gives us an excuse to go back!
Honestly, I think based on our transportation experiences I’d say rent a car and make a road trip out of it! You’d have so much freedom once you’re there, too!
Next time I will for sure! 😀