Mod Squad

Friday - - Leisure -

with a four-poster bed and a pol­ished writ­ing desk. When I slide the win­dow open, salt from the falls fills the room; if I slam it shut, all I hear is the pi­ano be­ing el­e­gantly played down­stairs.

The rest of the day is spent me­an­der­ing be­tween the pool, the lawn and the ho­tel’s Ipê grill restau­rant. For din­ner, I go gau­cho, choos­ing from an eye-pop­ping se­lec­tion of Brazil­ian meats, sauces and side dishes.

With thun­der­ing wa­ter­falls, trop­i­cal an­i­mals and one of the most ex­clu­sive lo­ca­tions I’ve ever seen, Ho­tel das Cataratas re­ally is un­for­get­table. On the fi­nal leg of my South Amer­i­can tour, it’s Fri­day night and ev­ery one of São Paulo’s beau­ti­ful peo­ple are in one room. Or at least, it cer­tainly seems that way to me.

I’m in the Skye Bar on the roof of Ho­tel Unique, a hap­pen­ing place in the sub­urbs of São Paulo that every­body’s talk­ing about.

Look­ing a bit like a space­ship that’s landed in the city’s most ex­pen­sive quar­ter, this de­signer ho­tel whispers “cool” so qui­etly that if you can’t hear it, you re­ally shouldn’t be there.

Be­ing a guest at the ho­tel meant I could ar­rive at the bar by lift (which is pitch black in­side so you don’t have to worry about avoid­ing eye con­tact with strangers – ap­pro­pri­ate when a place is full of beau­ti­ful peo­ple, be­cause I might have been tempted to stare). Ev­ery­one else has to queue up out­side while the bouncer checks that they’re the cor­rect clien­tele.

Slowly they trickle in: men in linen, sweaters hung loosely around their shoul­ders, girls with tum­bling honey-coloured hair and boat shoes. Oth­ers gather af­ter an af­ter­noon by the rooftop pool – which turns from blue to red as the sun drops – and wan­der to­wards the dance floor, pick­ing up wood-fire piz­zas and bowls of olives as they go.

Ho­tel Unique was de­signed by Brazil­ian ar­chi­tect, Ruy Oh­take. He’s worked on some of Brazil’s most in­no­va­tive projects, in­clud­ing the re­design of a favela. With Ho­tel Unique, he’s cre­ated some­thing that’s beau­ti­ful, fas­ci­nat­ing and prac­ti­cal, all at the same time.

It’s also dif­fer­ent to any other ho­tel I’ve stayed at. When I checked in, I was wel­comed with a fresh co­conut; en-route to my room, I wan­dered in to­tal dark­ness, the only light com­ing from small round win­dows at the end of the cor­ri­dor – another of Oh­take’s de­sign tricks, this meant that when I fi­nally found my door and opened it, I was over­whelmed with light (and relief that I wasn’t walk­ing into the wrong room).

In­side, there are vis­tas over leafy, sporty Ibi­ra­puera Park and a bath big­ger than a swim­ming pool. I slump on the bed, tired from a long day of trav­el­ling.

Up­stairs, Skye Bar is still buzzing. It’s 2am, but judg­ing by the queues curl­ing around the cor­ner, I think the party’s go­ing to keep go­ing at Ho­tel Unique for a long time yet.

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