What is a Pousada?
Definition of a Brazilian 'Pousada'
"A small, independently owned, totally unique place to stay in Brazil"
There is no direct translation in English for the Brazilian type of “pousada”. Whilst in Portugal the term refers to luxury accommodation in restored historical buildings, the Brazilian pousada concept and price range is much wider. A pousada in Brazil could be what in other places would be considered a bed and breakfast, but it could equally well be something more akin to a guesthouse, inn, eco-lodge or boutique hotel. In its simplest form it is really just a place to "pousar" or land. Over recent years a new concept of " pousada de charme" has arisen which refers to pousadas with something extra special about them, often in terms of unique and indiviidual room design incorporating local materials. Pousadas featured on the site designated as " Alison's Top Picks" all fall into this new category.
There are no statistics to say how many pousadas there are in Brazil but the number certainly runs into thousands, and outside big cities the pousada is by far the most common form of accommodation available. What sets Brazilian pousadas truly apart from hotels and resorts is that they are all small (fewer than 40 suites) and independently owned; what sets the "Hidden Pousadas" apart from other pousadas is the unique beauty of each of the ones we recommend, the quality of the design, the personal treatment and the wonderful experience they offer to anyone wanting to really discover Brazil.
Hidden Pousada Prices
"from under US$50.00 to over US$500.00 per night, low season doubles, including breakfast"
Prices in pousadas tend to be around the same as for hotels in the same class. However it is very difficult to classify them on a hotel type basis because the pousada emphasis is on the experience rather than the tangibles. Many pousadas don't have cable TV for example out of choice; some opt for not putting in a pool if they are by the ocean, and very few offer anything like room service. However what they may lack in terms of amenities like this is more than made up for by charm, hospitality and personality. It is worth noting that whilst your mobile may still not work in many places off the beaten track the vast majority of pousadas now offer guests free wi-fi.
Pousadas on hiddenpousadasbrazil.com range from those with a one $ tag signifying a daily rate of as little as US$50.00 for two people in low season including breakfast. A pousada with a $$$$$ price tag may well cost over US$500.00 per night.
Hidden Pousada Criteria
"a uniquely beautiful place to stay in every sense of the word"
To curate this guide, we are always looking for the exceptional pousada and we have a rigorous selection process for our recommended special collection. Initially we select pousadas which have either been recommended to us by other travellers, or which have exceptional reviews and check their application form against our own criteria. If they pass this stage then there is a 1-2 day inspection visit where we look for comfort, cleanliness, location and amenities but also check for intangibles like the atmosphere of the pousada and the general feel of the place/location. We look particularly for pousadas with individual character, for places which demonstrate a commitment to sustainable tourism and for those where the whole team works together to make guests' experiences exceptional.visit.
Pousada: Pousada Capim Santo, Bahia
- A good-sized room, usually with a double bed, two single beds, or a double and one single
- En-suite shower room, with electric, gas or solar powered shower, washbasin and WC Wardrobe, chest of drawers or shelves and hanging space for clothes
- Air conditioning and/or ceiling fan
- Bedside tables and lamps
Hand and bath towels
Soap and/or shower gel
Mosquito nets or spray or plug-ins, in areas where there are a lot of mosquitoes
Small fridge (frigobar) with beer, water and soft drinks
TV with Brazilian programmes
Occasionally (usually from price category $$$ up)
CD player and/or DVD
Superior bed linen (250 thread count up)
Rooms are normally cleaned on a daily basis, but, in keeping with ecological principles, in some places you will be asked to indicate when you need your sheets and towels changed.
Occasionally you may find a musty smell in rooms which have not been aired sufficiently. If this bothers you, ask to change rooms.
Similarly, you may occasionally find tiny ants or small lizards in the more basic pousadas. If you find anything else which bothers you, tell the manager and/or ask to change rooms.
It should be noted that plumbing is rudimentary in much of Brazil, and waste baskets are provided for anything you want to throw away- including toilet paper! Failure to remember this is likely to result in some embarrassment!
Pousada: Pousada A Mangueira, Bahia
Breakfast is nearly always included in the price, and is usually excellent, with a variety of juices, coffee, tea, breads, jams, cake, ham and cheeses. Occasionally hot dishes are available and eggs can be ordered - usually at no extra price.
Nearly all rooms have small fridges where you can help yourself to water, soft drinks and beer at reasonable prices. Tap water is not for drinking!
There is usually a bar service of some sort available, or an “honesty” bar, where you take what you want from the fridge and just note down the quantity. Payment is settled at the end of your stay.
Where pousadas have a pool and/or beach, bar service is often available here as well.
If pousadas do not have their own restaurant, most will recommend good places to eat nearby. Pousadas which are really off the beaten track will normally have their own restaurant and include half or full board in the price.
In most pousadas there is at least someone who speaks English and/or other European languages, but there are a couple in this guide where only Portuguese is spoken, so it is worth checking on the site if this is an issue.
If communication in a certain language is important to you, please search pousadas “by language”.
Nearly all pousadas can arrange in-bound and outbound taxi transfers be it to/from a local airport or another pousada. We recommend that you organise the transfer with the pousada you are going to. Normally you pay the driver directly in cash, but it's best to check this first with the pousada. We also recommend that you organise a transfer on arrival rather than drive anywhere at night as signposting in offbeat Brazil is often confusing and it is easy to end up a long way from where you want to be without realising it!
Internet and Wi-fi
Nearly all pousadas have wi-fi these days, and it is nearly always free. Usually you need a password so just check pricing when you ask for this.
Blackberries, I-phones and mobile phones should work in most places if they are activated for roaming, but there are still areas of Brazil where there is no coverage at all.
Pousada: Pousada Patacho, Alagoas
Brazil is a large country and the voltage varies from state to state and sometimes within states. It can be 110v or 220v. Check with individual pousadas.
Plugs used to be either 2-pin US style or elongated European. However more recently a 3 pin version has emerged as standard which does not seem to have been picked up by those who make the adaptors. Where pousadas only have new sockets they will nearly always have adaptors for guest usage so just ask.
Safety and Safety Deposit Boxes
Most pousadas are safe but only a few have safety deposit boxes. It is usually possible to deposit items of value with reception to be put in their safe.
Transfers, trips and excursions
Taxi transfers in and out of the pousada can nearly always be arranged at reasonable cost and it is strongly advised that you take this option to your first pousada at least on arrival.
Trips and excursions can also usually be booked at reception, or they can advise where to go.
Payments and tipping
Some pousadas charge 10% service charge, but the majority include this in the daily rate.
It is not obligatory to tip cleaners, but it is normal to tip people that carry your luggage around R$2,00-3,00 per bag- or R$10,00 if they are carrying in a longer distance with a cart/wheelbarrow.
10% service charge is usually added as standard to any restaurant meals, and there is no need to leave any extra.
And finally…many pousadas these days take credit cards but there are still some which do not, and many smaller towns and villages do not have ATMs or any sort of international banking. If you are planning to go anywhere off beat, and particularly if you are going to islands, peninsulas or deserted beaches, do check the situation before you go.