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.