"You're staying in my favorite room," said a concierge at Uxua Casa Hotel, uxua.com, upon our arrival. Yeah, right. But by the end of our four days in Trancoso, Brazil, we believed it.
Three hours two by plane, one by car north of São Paulo, Trancoso is a fishing village turned rustic summer retreat for rich Paulistanos. At one end of the two-hectare quadrado, or town green, is Brazil's second oldest church, Igreja de São João Batista (1586), and behind it is a sweeping view down to the Atlantic. Single-story buildings in tropical colors flank the quadrado: some are still houses; most are shops and restaurants that open around 5 p.m.; three, including our casa, Seu Pedrinho, are part of Uxua (pronounced Ooh-shoo-ah).
The nine-villa hotel is decorated as though a ship bearing French colonial antiques had been wrecked on a desert island, with flea-market armoires cohabitating with coconut-shell soap dishes and twiggy light fixtures. The styling is so impeccable even the matchboxes have been papered over with images of the church that it comes as no surprise to learn that the hotel was opened in 2009 by Wilbert Das, creative director of the Diesel fashion line.
Our room's proximity to the quadrado is what made it so special. Sitting in the chairs outside our front door, we watched an early-morning soccer game, a horse-drawn cart pick up trash, and kids try to knock fruit from a Eugenia tree with sticks and rocks. Consequently, we never forgot we were in Brazil. At dusk, the riot of colors calms down, but lanterns dangling from fig trees turn the place magical.
The only demerit is that the hotel's beach club was recently damaged in a storm; it may or may not be rebuilt. Given that the beach is a 10-minute walk downhill and a 15-minute walk back up guests may instead be tempted to drink passion-fruit caipirinhas by the pool, which is lined with 40,000 aventurine quartz stones.
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