Design Intervention

Boutique hotels have, for the most part, passed Rio by. Most arrivistes stay at the Copacabana Palace or one of the many bland beachside high-rises in Ipanema. But for those desperate for a boutique fix—that is, authenticity and a more personalized experience—there's now La Maison and La Suite. Run by French brothers François-Xavier and Jacques Dussol, the hotels are in Joatinga and Gávea, respectively, both chic residential neighborhoods about ten minutes from the beach. Cariocas have hardly heard of them—the Dussols rely mostly on word of mouth—but visiting fashion designers, actors, and models have made the pousadas their secret retreat. "Discretion, discretion, discretion" is what François-Xavier says is the draw. The design-obsessed, too, have zoomed in on these two addresses. La Maison, on a quiet street beside the lush edges of the Tijuca forest, has five rooms, each in a unique style—for example, chinoiserie, French Provincial, and Indian hot-pink. La Suite, the newer of the two hotels, is even grander. Perched on a promontory overlooking São Con-rado Beach, the seven rooms are downright baroque, with marble, Buddhas, and billowy drapes. Both places have pools and dining rooms that serve excellent French-Brazilian cooking. $ La Maison, $330. At 58 Rua Sérgio Porto; 55-21/3205-3585; $ La Suite, from $430 to $480. At 501 Rua Jackson de Figueiredo; 55-21/2484-1962.

$ Establishment accepts no charge/credit cards or accepts cards other than the American Express Card.