Copacabana Palace - a Belmond Hotel

Review of Copacabana Palace - a Belmond Hotel review by Varun Sharma

A grand Art Deco statement oozing old world glamour, the Copacabana Palace – a Belmond Hotel - has been a Rio de Janeiro landmark and a lure for the world’s elite for nearly a hundred years. Today’s property offers 239 rooms and suites, designed in a bright, classic style with bathrooms of pink and white Brazilian marble. It is, however, the seven penthouse suites on the sixth floor looking out over the ocean which catch the eye and they share an exclusive black pool available just for those on this floor.

For assuaging hunger, the hotel has it covered with two Michelin starred restaurants – Mee for pan-Asian dishes with a formidable sake menu and the Ristorante Hotel Cipriani for an Italian feast with an accompanying chef’s table for customised dining. With panoramic windows and a mirrored ceiling, Pérgula offers Mediterranean-Brazilian fusion with a grill offering sizzling cuts of meat with a selection of sauces and garnishes. Whilst the pool bar has tapas on tap, head to the Piano Bar to see the A-listers at play. 

Facilities wise, the main building and a newer tower wing (opened in 1948) encircle an enticing half-Olympic sized swimming pool itself circled by sun loungers whilst for those who like to feel the sand between their toes, Copacabana Beach opposite enjoys a full hotel service with sun loungers, umbrellas, and water on call. The Copacabana Palace Spa stands ready to pamper and rejuvenate their clients with seven treatment rooms, two of which are for couples, a sauna, steam room and a relaxation area. There is also a spa boutique and a beauty salon. For the active, there is a fully equipped and air-conditioned fitness centre with a first-floor rooftop tennis court offering views out over the ocean and the city.

The property has also re-opened the doors to their legendary Copacabana Palace Theatre, a listed heritage building dating from the 1950s which has just enjoyed an extensive renovation. Theatre guests may have a bite to eat at the re-designed café or sip a cocktail in the intimate theatre lounge.

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The Copacabana Palace is situated in the heart of town in the South Zone of the city, adjacent to the four-kilometre-long stretch of white sandy Copacabana Beach. Further afield, there are the beaches of Secreto or Prainha too. A little bit of the history of Brazil can be discovered just a short walk away from the hotel at the nearby Forte de Copacabana whilst at the end of a peninsula, enjoy watching surfers ride the waves. For those with a head for heights, wake before dawn and set off to the cable car station to alight at the top of Sugarloaf mountains whilst looking across to the top of Corcovado for the iconic view of the statue of Christ the Redeemer before the crowds cluster around – an exclusive early access for the guests of the hotel.

Take a sunset cycle ride, heading up the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas route for an eight kilometre, 45-minute route which takes in one of the city’s most beautiful lagoons. Then head out to Pedro do Sal in Saude for a little samba to immerse yourself in the rhythms of Rio. Book a boat tour from Guanabara Bay to see Rio from a different angle before heading out to Zona Sul and Niterói beaches to go snorkelling. In 2019, Rio was named World Capital of Architecture and the hotel can arrange for a private tour to discover the city’s most interesting buildings including the Museum of Tomorrow, Confeitaria Colombo, the Museum of Art and the Monastery of Sāo Bento.

The hotel is a 45-minute drive or 28 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro International Airport and a 15-minute drive from Santos Dumont Domestic Airport. 

Whilst there is no garage on property, there is a private parking service or valet parking on Avenida Atlantica. 



Airy and bright, neutrally decorated and classically appointed, the 239 rooms and suites of the Belmond Copacabana Palace are some of the finest in the city. With all the rooms and suites enjoying soundproofed windows, no matter how wild the party outside might be, you will sleep like a baby inside.

Featuring period furnishings and original works of art and located either in the main building or the tower, there are three room categories depending on the view – the Superior City View Rooms, the Superior Partial Ocean View Room (with high ceilings and large picture windows), the Deluxe Ocean View Rooms (some with a Juliet balcony) and the Deluxe City View Rooms. 

Sizes range from 30 square metres to 40 square metres with spacious bathrooms of pink and white Brazilian marble. Amenities include daily bottled water; crisp white luxury Trissardi linens; lighted makeup mirrors and hair dryers; espresso maker; iPod docks; widescreen plasma TVs with cable and premium channels; personalised minibars; pillow menus; individually controlled climate control; designer toiletries and traditional Brazilian slippers. Many of the rooms are inter-connecting. Pets are allowed and breakfast is included.

All the main suites categories have a vintage feel, referencing the glamour of the 1930s and space wise, start from 46 square metres to 68 square metres.  Once again, the suites’ décor and sizing is similar – it’s the view that differs and ranges from a Deluxe One Bedroom Oceanfront Suite, a One Bedroom Pool View Suite, One Bedroom Avenue View Suites, One Bedroom City View Suites and the one and two bedroom Ocean View Suites – some offering Juliet balconies, others full balconies. The Master Ocean View Suite is situated in the main building and offer a spacious 80 square metres of living space and unbeatable views straight out over Copacabana Beach and the deep blue ocean. 

The premium suites however must be suites 601 and 602 in the main building – the Copacabana Suites (with goodies including Moët & Chandon Champagne on arrival, sundowners and canapés and a complimentary soft drink minibar) - and the seven penthouse Suites sized at 100 square metres. Set on the sixth floor and featuring original artworks, oriental carpets and sumptuous French fabrics with 24/7 butler service, they all share an exclusive black granite swimming pool on the same floor. Featuring a master bedroom, a spacious marble bathroom, a large living room, these penthouses offer balconies looking out either over that famous beach or the city.

Service & Facilities


One of the main facilities at the hotel is the iconic and enticing half-Olympic sized swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers. Based adjacent to the main building and backing onto the tower with landscaped terraces around it, it’s the perfect spot to people watch whilst enjoying a long relaxing drink. For those who like to feel the sand between their toes and to look directly out onto the ocean, Copacabana Beach opposite enjoys a full hotel service with sun loungers, umbrellas, and water on call. The attendants will also keep watch over your possessions if you go in for a swim.

The Copacabana Palace Spa stands ready to pamper and rejuvenate their clients with seven treatment rooms, two of which are for couples, a sauna, steam room, a relaxation area and spa products by the exclusive By Samia essential oil range. There is an extensive spa treatment list but there are three main signature indulgences: the two hour and ten-minute Bossa Nova for a revitalised body and face; the Plenitude for a tailored experience to lower stress which takes around two hours and 15 minutes and the Essencial at nearly three hours – an aromatic bath, a 60-minute body massage and a detoxifying and moisturising mask to leave your face, body and soul at peace. There is also a spa boutique and a beauty salon. 

For the active, there is a fully equipped and air-conditioned fitness centre with a third-floor rooftop tennis court offering views out over the ocean and the city.

The property has also re-opened the doors to their legendary Copacabana Palace Theatre, a listed heritage building dating from the 1950s which has just enjoyed an extensive renovation. Theatre guests may have a bite to eat at the re-designed café or sip a cocktail in the intimate theatre lounge.



To stay at the Belmond Copacabana Palace is to walk in the footsteps of movie legends such as Marlene Dietrich, Maurice Chevalier and the world’s brightest luminaries. Lauded in Fred Astaire’s 1933 epic Flying Down to Rio with Ginger Rogers, their first pairing, the hotel hit instant global celebrity and became the must-visit haunt of the glitterati. 

Clearly inspired by the great Mediterranean’s seafront hotels such as the Negresco and The Carlton, Cannes, the Copacabana Palace was designed by a French architect Joseph Gire and has a distinct riviera feel. No expense was spared when the hotel opened with glistening chandeliers from Czechoslovakia, custom carpets from England, porcelain from Limoges and Baccarat crystal. Personnel was drawn from most of the luxury hotels of the age including, we are told, nearly the entire brigade from The Savoy’s kitchens. (That must have been popular with one August Escoffier!).

The bright lights faded over time however as Rio lost its lustre when the capital was transferred to Brasilia in the 1960s. Down at heel, saved from a proposed demolition in the 1980s, it became a cultural property before being bought by the Orient Express group, now Belmond, in 1989 who restored its spirit and soul whilst modernising and refurbishing the property.

Today’s hotel resonates with its grand history and retains its pole position, by dint of Belmond’s continued savvy investment (such as the recent restoration of the Copacabana Palace Theatre), as one of the world’s great historic hotels. 

Restaurants & Bars


When hunger bites, there are three restaurants at this iconic hotel that might tame the beast. The bright and colourful Pérgula Restaurant shouts Rio style with its vintage-styled green leather banquettes, floor to ceiling windows and doors looking out over the pool and a vibrant tropical mural. Open for all day dining, with inside and outside seating available for some Mediterranean-Brazilian fusion, the sizzling Grill do Pérgula serves prime cuts of Brazilian meat alongside a selection of sauces and garnishes.

On Saturdays, the restaurant serves a Brazilian Buffet of starters, Feijoada and a choice of desserts, beer and intoxicating caipirinhas to accompany the feast. The following day, head for Brunch served with sparkling wine to keep the party mood flowing.

The Pan-Asian restaurant Mee is one of the most popular in town and the only such restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Enjoy exotic speciality dishes served alongside one of 25 imported sakes in a contemporary Asian styled venue either at a table or seated at the bar. 

The second Michelin starred restaurant is the Ristorante Hotel Cipriani mixing seasonal local produce with imported Italian delicacies. The inspiration for the Italian menu is sourced from the different regions of Italy from north to south, exploring the best recipes from each region on a seasonal basis. For a special gastronomic treat, sit at the Chef’s Table for some immersive gourmet dining with a customised menu.

For light bites, refreshing long drinks and tapas on tap, the Pool Bar is on hand whilst the A-listers head for the Piano Bar.


Belmond promises to tread lightly on the planet with their Think Global, Act Local motto and to make a positive contribution to the destinations where they operate. They are strongly aware of their responsibility towards natural resources especially with those properties located near World Heritage Sites.

To that end, they believe in responsible sustainable sourcing of foodstuffs; in running and supporting educational programmes and to follow sustainable practices in their hotel operations to both be gentle on the environment and to ensure energy efficiency.

What We Love

  • The Palace: Surely the greatest hotel in South America. Since it opened in 1923, it has been a beacon for Rio and indeed Brazil. With stunning history, rooms & suites, service, location, cuisine – and not to forget the style that gives your whiplash, the Copacabana Palace is a place you must stay if you appreciate the finest hotels.
  • Cuisine: There are only 5 Michelin star rated restaurants in the great city of Rio de Janeiro and two live in the Palace. Mee serves Pan-Asian and Ristorante Hotel Cipriani, Italian delicacies. Both are remarkable! Oh – and the wine! The wine! Also – serving local dishes, head to Grill do Pérgula – a mecca for meat-eaters!
  • Location: With its panoramic ocean views and of course of the famous Copacabana Beach, and only a hop from Forte de Copacabana, the hotel is located in an ideal situation. For guests of the hotel only, you can access Christ the Redeemer atop Sugarloaf Mountain – before the hoi polloi are allowed up!  It's an incredible experience! The Copa brings the Mountain to you!

    Varun Sharma

What They Love

  • Icon: The Copacabana Palace – a Belmond Hotel is a great place with a great vibe. You feel it most around the iconic pool, and in the 3 restaurants and 2 bars. It’s only hotel in South America with 2 restaurants with Michelin stars and the fabulous Pergula with its two legendary weekend lunches - The Brazilian Buffet & Feijoada on Saturdays with extra helpings of samba and The Brunch with free flowing bubbly on Sundays, always with live music.
  • Celebration: The hotel is perfect for milestones of any kind! It boasts unique and glamorous events spaces, with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows, large terraces, and amazing views to the famous Copacabana beach. Legendary events like the Réveillon, the Copa Carnival Ball, Halloween and many others are organised by the hotel
  • Energy: The Cidade Maravilhosa (carnival) and the Cariocas (people of Rio) possess “high energy" that is easily transmitted to all that visit this great city. Apart from the carnival parade experience, that is most probably the biggest show on earth, cycling and trekking in Rio is a delight. The Copa is an intrinsic part of this amazing city – a century-old Palace which lives on the energy of staff and guests alike.

    Ulisses Marreiros
    General Manager
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