Staying in the Pelourinho means being close to the action, but the beach suburbs are mellower (and just a short bus or taxi ride away). Santo Antônio is a peaceful neighborhood with classy pousadas (guesthouses) in renovated old buildings just a short walk from the Pelourinho. Reservations during Carnaval are essential.

Carmo & Santo Antônio

Many of the city's most charming (and best-value) pousadas (guesthouses) are located in this neighborhood. It pays to look around online before booking a room.

Barra & Coastal Suburbs

Of all the beachside suburbs, happening Barra attracts the majority of visitors due to its proximity to the Pelourinho.

Reviving a Landmark: The Palace Hotel

An art-deco landmark immortalized in literature, the Palace Hotel had been closed for more than a decade. But it was the pinnacle of glamour in its heyday. The hotel opened in 1934 and hosted famous guests from Orson Welles to Carmen Miranda; Jorge Amado chose its ballroom as the setting for a memorable scene in his novel Dona Flor e Seus Dois Maridos (Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands).

Now, the newly crowned Fera Palace Hotel has reopened after a multimilllion-dollar restoration overseen by the Brazilian entrepreneur Antonio Mazzafera and the noted Scandinavian architect Adam Kurdahl. The hotel has around 100 guest rooms and suites, two restaurants, and a swimming pool with views over the bay. It's part of a larger effort to revive the neighborhood – keep your eye on this pocket of the old city that's being called the 'Bahia Design Destrict.'