If Caxambu is the last word in Edwardian elegance, SÃO LOURENÇO rivals it with its displays of Art-Deco brilliance. Its Parque das Águas is studded with striking 1940s pavilions and has a stunning bathhouse which looks more like a film set for a Hollywood high-society comedy. The most upmarket and modern-looking of the small spas, the town is popular with young and old alike.
São Lourenço is built along the shores of a beautiful lake, a large chunk of which has been incorporated into the Parque das Águas (Wed–Sat 8am–5.20pm; the pavilions with the mineral-water fountains are closed 11.30am–2pm, Sun 8.30am–noon), and during the day it’s where everything happens. Much larger and more modern than the one in Caxambu, the park is kept to the same immaculate standard, making it a lovely place for a stroll, with its brilliant white pavilions, forested hillside and clouds of butterflies and birds – though steer clear of the ill-tempered black swans on the lake. There are rowing boats for rent, and an artificial island in the middle of the lake.
The Balneário itself offers baths (duchas; R$10), saunas (R$12) and massages (R$50–65), and it’s worth paying for the elegant surroundings of marbled floors, mirrored walls and white-coated attendants. There are separate sections for men and women.