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Living the high life in the Beverly Hills of Sao Paulo

June 30, 2019

Hotels & SpasLifestyle | by Baldwin Ho


One of the quirkiest hotels you will ever come across is Hotel Unique in the bustling city of Sao Paulo which is the most populous city in the southern hemisphere and the Americas. It has been affectionately nicknamed “The Watermelon” by the locals but the aim of the Paulistano designer Ruy Ohtake was to sculpt something resembling the hull of a ship. The portholes of the hotel are particularly evocative of the nautical theme.

The hotel is in the idyllic area of Jardim Paulista where most of the green spaces are in this city which is renowned for high-rises and concrete structures. A short walk around the surrounding areas will indicate this area is probably the “Beverly Hills” of Sao Paulo. It is a short walk to the Museum of Modern Art and Ibirapuera park but if you want the shopping district then it is a short taxi ride away.

This hotel is all about design and there is plenty of visual flair to keep your eyes very busy from the moment you check-in. The high ceilings as you enter are more reminiscent of an art museum than a hotel: sculptures are dotted casually in secluded corners, their lights resemble mini-satellite dishes whilst the spirits bar wall is jaw-droppingly stunning.

Ruy Ohtake has focused on a contrast of light and shade, so when you enter the lift and the corridors of the hotel, it is all dark and mysterious whilst the rooms themselves are a crisp, angelic white. I was told by the receptionist who guided us to our room that this was done to avoid the awkward stares you get in lifts when strangers are bonded together in a confined space for those fleeting seconds.

We had one of those curved wall rooms which are on the side of the half-moon shaped building and you can imagine the hours of fun we had trying to scale the curved wall. The small touches do matter here, from a queen-sized bed with Trussardi 300 thread count sheets to emailing us beforehand for our shoe size, so we were offered Ipanema sandals that were the right size for us. I don’t often mention the bathroom in hotel reviews but here we were offered a powerful whirlpool bath with luxurious amenities and a private 40” LED TV with sky satellite. Staring through the porthole and the palm tree-lined streets of the neighbourhood, I thought I was in a leafy suburb of California rather than the urban jungle of Sao Paulo.

The amenities on offer are astonishing with 2 indoor heated swimming pools with a water slide entrance, dry and steam saunas, a rooftop swimming pool with uninterrupted views of the Sao Paulo skyline and the surrounding parks and Technogym equipment of the highest order with personal trainers. This is an oasis of serenity in a city of 12 million inhabitants.

The food is a gastronomic heaven for even the most discerning foodie led by Chef Emmanuel Bassoleil, who originated from Dijon in France.  The designed-led theme of the hotel extends to the plating of the food at their Skye restaurant. The standout dish is undoubtedly their big ocean carpaccio which includes new style salmon, white fish, shrimp and salmon in a citrus vinaigrette that is so symmetrically elegant, it would be rightly lauded as a masterpiece if it was hung out in the Tate Modern. Other dishes I would recommend include shrimps with winter squash in a “lemonja” sauce and their dessert platter which included every possible creation imaginable but in bite-sized portions which were hard to refuse. Vegetarian options were slightly lacking in the main restaurant for dinner, but tasty options were available in the more casual bar area including vegetarian gnocchi and pizza.

Finally, do not leave the hotel without trying out their signature Caudalie treatments, some of which are exclusive to the hotel. I tried their unique senses personalised massage which used a potent combination of Grape Seed Oil with Caudalie’s powerful Contouring Concentrate so that my skin felt hydrated whilst my circulation was much improved.

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