Our time in Paraty was so action packed – with beaches, waterfalls, swimming holes and the Sport & Aventura day out – that by the final day we were completely worn out. Fortunately, this awesome town in Brazil’s Atlantic Forest also has the perfect place to relax after all that adventure. The Shambhala Lounge is a restaurant and lounge out in the forest, surrounded by lush green nature and an atmosphere of total peace.
We wound up there after visiting Poco do Ingles, tired out and in urgent need of some chill out time, and the Lounge really delivered. Owners Hans and Priscila Neus, both totally lovely and welcoming, have created the ideal retreat in the Atlantic Forest, with a calming décor that mixes Asian and Brazilian influences. The overall effect is simply beautiful; inside the restaurant everything is sleek and modern, with muted neutral tones, while outside is a huge decking area surrounded by a large garden. Rich brown wood decking, all covered in case of a sudden shower – not too unlikely in that tropical climate – decked out with dozens of comfy hammocks and swing chairs, huge beanbag pouffes, and squishy sofas, with splashes of vivid orange to represent the owners’ home country, The Netherlands, and which looks fantastic against the richly green surroundings.
Out on the decking, protected from the oncoming evening chill by outdoor heaters, Sam and I sank into enormous beanbag chairs and total relaxation. It was heavenly; nothing but the sounds of the forest and the quiet chatter of the other guests.
Shambhala Lounge wasn’t all about chilling out, though. We not only ate one of our best meals in Brazil there, but also one of the healthiest. From the Raw Juice wheatgrass-and-everything-green smoothie Sam had before starting on the beers, to the super colourful veggie-packed meals, the restaurant was the perfect health kick after weeks of meat, rice and beans. Decent vegetarian food can be pretty hard to come by in South America, too, so if you’re not the meat-fan the continent expects you to be, I can heartily recommend Shambhala Lounge where a good proportion of the menu is vegetarian, going well beyond a boring salad.
The Asian theme continues throughout the food, fusing elements of Asian cuisine like wontons and stir fry with Brazillian ingredients and dishes. The tapas plates are the perfect sharing starter, things like wonton tacos and Vieiras Orientais (scallops on acai toast). Everything on the menu sounds delicious, healthy, and so different to the heavy, carby meals that are unavoidable in South America – it was almost impossible to choose a main! My Pad See – thick noodles covered with a fresh, al dente stir fry of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, onions, and red and orange peppers, plus chicken in a soy sauce – was so delicious! Sam opted for Sumatra, a vegetarian dish of sautéed vegetables with shitake and palm heart in teriyaki sauce with a mango salad and 7 grain rice, which was also exquisite, and the most colourful, vitamin-packed meal I saw in Brazil!
After washing everything down with two big glasses of crisp white wine – one of a few specially chosen Brazilian wines that make up the limited but refined wine list – I was so relaxed that it was almost impossible to leave my beanbag chair, so we stayed outside in the lounge area watching the Netherlands vs Argentina game with Hans, who’d set up a big screen, complete with the Dutch Flag, for the occasion!
Generous portions, scrumptious healthy food, friendly service and an atmosphere of utter peace, surrounded by the stunning Atlantic Forest: it really was the perfect place for relaxation. I left the gorgeous Shambhala Lounge half-asleep and very, very chilled out!