Paradise search : Uxua Casa Hotel, Trancoso, Brazil

I have been fantasizing about Brazilian interiors for a while. The modernist ones of course but also the more rustic ones. I must have a collection of them in my inspiration folder, with their bright colors popping on whitewash walls and rustic textures. It’s only after we knew we were heading for Trancoso that I realized all my pictures seemed to come from there, and that this small place was the epicenter of that low-key and rough tropical style.

We’re a thousand kilometers north of Rio de Janeiro, in the middle of the state of Bahia, right by the sea, and this is indeed a special place. The Portuguese literally set camp here when they discovered Brazil, but the place was somehow forgotten between then and now, allowing it to remain rather untouched. Don’t let the apparent calm fool you though, it has been found and is pretty much Brazil’s equivalent of the Lubéron (expect here it’s more Gisèle and less Ridley, but you know potato-potahtoe) in terms of hidden-luxury. It was a hippie getaway back in the 70’s, and that very community might very well be the reason the place hasn’t gotten out of hands despite its success.

Uxua opened in 2009 and manages to integrate luxury accommodation seamlessly in that environment. They offer eleven houses to rent, all different, all in tune with the local culture and all around the Quadrado, the UNESCO protected main square of the village.

(since the amount of pictures in that post got a little bit out of control, I’ve added smaller pictures that you can seen in full size when you click on them)

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The hotel’s restaurant is right on the Quadrado, this long rectangle of grass lined with colorful houses and equally colorful trees. This is a blissfully quiet spot in the morning and an excellent one for watching the world go by as the night falls.

 

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Even if all the houses are different, you can see a consistent direction that has this rugged, wild feel to it. The property has numerous hidden corners, all with unique objects and details that really keep things interesting. This would lead you to believe that there are beautiful crafts (look at those ceramics!) to acquire in Trancoso, but unfortunately what I saw for sale elsewhere wasn’t as compelling and/or very expensive.

 

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Of course there’s the sea nearby, but something has to be said about that adventurine quartz pool. The stones are supposed to have relaxing properties and I’ll let you in on the scoop that I indeed felt quite relaxed while bathing in the shimmering turquoise waters. As for that giant white bed, it’s a complete trap, once you lie there you’re bound to watch the water reflections and the leaves moving until night falls (or the mosquitoes find you).

 

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The open space by the pool is used for lunch and breakfast, and well, it’s pretty nice.

 

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Breakfast is a very sweet affair in Brazil and it’s truer than ever at Uxua. Obviously there are fresh juices, bread and fruits, but it’s the homemade cakes and the dulce de leche in the fresh yogurt that stole my heart. Also, no other country could pull off pearl doilies.

 

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The room that leads to the Quadrado is quite something. It’s like stepping in a postcard from 50’s Brazil. I was fascinated by every detail and mesmerized by that surprisingly warm blue.

 

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The house we stayed in was the secret one, which isn’t on the website, so it’s a bit of an exclusivity! It’s a restored fisherman house and I completely loved the feeling of intimacy we got once we were inside. We had our own closed garden and terrace, which gave us an instant feeling of comfort, which is curious in such a faraway place. You arrive there, make yourself a coffee and drink it on your porch and it’s like you’ve been coming here every summer for ten years. It’s really an understated kind of luxury. Plus, that bathroom might have made it to my unofficial top 5, with its semi-opened layout and its fluffy towels…that’s the amount of wild I can tolerate just fine!

 

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The outside space has a big table that pretty much turn room service into “home service”, I dare you not to call them at night to get a scoop of that mean açai ice cream!

 

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Let’s talk a bit about the food: it does get pretty sophisticated I must say. We didn’t get to explore it in great depths since we don’t get that hungry when it’s that hot, but the menu was still quite appealing. I did fall a bit in love with a coconut, beetroot and carrot salad, and of course with their açai juices (yep, that’s me, drinking smoothies and not cocktails in Brazil, I guess some of the country’s culture is lost on me!).

 

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There was not enough time for us to get a spa treatment, but we peeked into the rooms and this looked very, very tempting.

 

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Obviously the eerie colors of the vegetation play a big part in making the place so paradisiac. I spent way too many time photographying leaves and flowers….!

 

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In the end I feel that what I love about Uxua is its singularity. It’s definitely not one of these standardized, turquoise-paradise hotels. It couldn’t be anywhere else, you really get a taste of the what’s particular about the location and its culture, which is not a given in luxury these days. I also love how you can combine it with any big Brazilian country and see this an incredible contrast. Surely this is not the Amazon jungle, but you do sense something wilder there, something that seems to be the at the core of what makes Brazil so magnetic. Don’t let them fool you into thinking that it’s just the latest fashionable beach, it’s about more than that.

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Uxua‘s website, facebook and instagram page.
More posts about Uxua this way.
A bit of advice if you’re a light sleeper: don’t go during peak season (new year’s and carnival) and ask for a house a little bit away from the Quadrado. Brazilians do like to party, it’s not a legend!

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