There are not a ton of big chain hotels in Salvador. There are a bunch of big hotels on the beach in the Rio Vermelho neighborhood, and then a bunch of boutique hotels in the old town, Pelourinho, including the well-reviewed Pestana Convento do Carmo. But about three years ago, Sheraton took over the Hotel Tropical da Bahia, a large hotel closer to the commercial center of town, in the Campo Grande neighborhood, kind of in between the tourist mecca of Pelourinho and the beach neighborhoods of Barra and Rio Vermelho. The hotel itself was pretty well-reviewed, and quite affordable, with a breakfast-inclusive rate of $75.
While I was initially concerned about the location, I think it totally made sense, as everywhere I wanted to go was a cheap taxi ride away. Of course, as is always my experience, my SPG Gold status was meaningless, but otherwise, I really enjoyed the hotel and recommend it highly.
I was super stressed, tired, and upset by the time I got to the hotel, a $30 Executive Taxi ride from SSA Airport. So I wasn’t really paying attention much at check-in. I do remember the guy at the desk asked if I had an SPG number, before realizing it was already in my reservation, which is never indicative of elite treatment. The only reflection of my gold status was a little slip in my key card packet, and I was on the always meaningless “SPG Floor.”
The room wasn’t huge, but nice, with a view looking out onto a lovely park, as well as the outdoor pool below. The room, as well, as the lobby, had definitely been renovated recently. There were hardwood floors, a comfy bed, desk, and sitting area. One downside of the park was that it was surprisingly loud, even from the 10th floor. And in the morning, I awoke to hearing drill exercises from the military school next door. Whoops.
The hallway from the elevator to itself was a little weird, very dark, and lights would go on as you walked by. There was also a little lounge area near the elevators which seemed to be a waste of space.
The gym was on the first floor, adjoining the parking lot, and was definitely well-equipped. It was a little stuffy, though, and the air conditioning was underwhelming.
Breakfast was great, and I took it in the outdoor seating area all three days. Despite it being hot, the mornings were pleasant enough. Inside was a standard buffet with some particularly awesome pastries, and a few hot dishes. Outside was a hot station that I didn’t quite understand, in terms of what was being offered each day. At least one day there were omelets, and then another day had tapioca pancakes. English wasn’t great, so figuring everything out was a little bit of a challenge. But there was also champagne, and waiters brought around carafes of coffee for each table, and with those two things, I don’t need much else.
There was no concierge desk at the hotel, oddly, but the front desk was helpful with any requests I had. Of note, when I asked for a recommendation for a restaurant nearby, the clerk told me there was none. But there is a Wal-mart affiliated supermarket a few blocks away, and a smaller market right across the street. Cabs were easy to get, and cab drivers all knew how to get back to the hotel.
Finally, the pool was quite lovely. Given how hot it is in Salvador, to be able to relax and go for a swim is great. I didn’t spend much time there, since my bathing suits had been checked, but on my final morning I had a relaxing hour and refreshing dip poolside.
Overall, it was my favorite hotel of the trip.