A huge seaside city in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is famed for its Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugarloaf Mountain. Not to mention the unmistakable rhythm of the Rio Carnival.
The Copacabana beach in Zona Sul (South Zone) first gained fame in the 1920s, fast becoming a favourite with the world’s glittering celebrities. Sun worshippers still flock to its warm waters and light-drenched shoreline in search of those Halcyon days, soaking up the atmosphere of the promenade famed for its black and white mosaic patterns that lead to restaurants and bars. Summer days bring a sea of colourful umbrellas, while beachside vendors serve up live music and unlimited Caipirinha. Rio’s Christ the Redeemer is Brazil’s most famous monument and is listed as one of the seven new wonders of the world. But where to stay in this amazing city?
The BusinessClass.com guide to the best hotels in Rio de Janeiro:
Copacabana Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Rio de Janeiro – 9.5/10
An art deco masterpiece, Copacabana Palace professes to be the crown jewel on the iconic namesake beach. Since its doors opened in 1923, the landmark hotel has entertained the rich and the famous and is THE spot to meet Brazil’s elite over tasty caipirinhas. Known simply as Copacabana Palace, the hotel was designed by French architect Joseph Gire and is built in the style of the great beach hotels of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A hundred years on it continues to hold pride of place with 243 rooms – 116 apartments and 127 suites, divided between the main and the annexe building that covers an area of 12,000 square metres. individually decorated with English antiques and original artworks, all rooms offer king-size beds, have marbled bathrooms and come with a free pair of Havaianas flip flops. Some include private balconies with city or ocean views.
There are three in-house restaurants. Guests take breakfast in Pérgula Restaurant, which also serves Brazilian and seafood delicacies. Top Italian dishes are on the menu in Cipriani Restaurant and a selection of refreshing drinks at the Copacabana Piano Bar. The MEE Restaurant offers Pan Asian cuisine, with a menu created by Chef Kazuo Harada that won him a Michelin star. The spa may be urban, but takes inspiration from nature with Brazilian themed treatments using revitalizing açaí and guaraná fruits, and purifying white clay from the Amazon. A timeless hideaway in the heart of a buzzing city.
Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana - 9/10
The Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana holds pride of place on the Copacabana Beach under the watchful gaze of Sugarloaf Mountain. Inspired by the carioca glamour of the 1950s, it remains an oasis to guests. There is a total of 375 apartments with 53 suites on the Fairmont Gold Floor, each with a private lounge and exclusive services. The rooms are decorated in tones of blue, taking inspiration from the sea, and are generous in size and comfort. The 1950s-inspired decor, premium amenities and sweeping views are matched by LCD cable television, iPod station and minibar. All are air-conditioned and some categories grant access to the VIP executive floor.
With exceptional ocean views, the Marine Restô has an amazing ambience with the freshest seafood and premium meat grilled on-site. The Spirit Copa Bar claims to make the city’s finest caipirinhas – but this you’ll need to try for yourself. The hotel has two swimming pools and a fitness centre, unwind in the infinity pool and rejuvenate at the Willow Stream Spa. The hotel invites an opportunity to get to know the delicious restaurants and bars of Copacabana in this famous Rio neighbourhood known for bohemian and poetic streets that have long served as inspiration for artists, authors and poets.
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Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro - 9/10
The Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro has one of the city’s most coveted addresses on Avenida Vieira Souto in the heart of Ipanema beach. Designer Philippe Starck’s first hotel in Brazil pays homage to the spirit of Brazilian architecture and design of the 1950s and 1960s and to the glorious Bossa Nova era – a style of Brazilian music derived from samba. It features Gaetano Pesce's UP5 Chair and Sergio Rodruigues' Diz and Voltaire armchairs, and distinctly Brazilian materials like Îpe flooring and the enormous piquiá tree stump used for the reception desk. These are intermixed with Grecian marble, 19th-century Argentinean brick and Chinese onyx. The elegant rooms feature a balcony, air conditioning, a minibar and a private bathroom.
Michelin-starred chef Luca Gozzani continues Fasano’s century-old dining legacy at the spacious Fasano Al Mare restaurant, while the Al Mare restaurant explores diverse aspects of Mediterranean cuisine, with a focus on seafood. The restaurant décor includes dark teak tables and a Starck-designed Murano glass chandelier suspended over a vintage Scandinavian table. Adjacent to the 8th-floor rooftop infinity pool is the bar with panoramic views of the Two Brothers mountains and the Corcovado. A sanctuary of health and beauty, Spa Fasano Renata de Abreu provides a spectrum of body, face and hair treatments designed to the client’s needs.
Emiliano Rio - 9/10
With only 90 rooms, of which 28 are suites, the built for purpose Emiliano Rio might just be the most intimate spot to spend a night in Copacabana. A peaceful retreat famous for its distinctive white façade, foldable shutters and perforated pattern which allows the cooling sea breeze to enter, while bathing you in dappled light – captures Rio’s glamorous 1950s. With a minimalist style, the spacious bedrooms lead onto wet rooms with huge bathtubs. The beds, not to mention four different sizes and shapes of pillow, make for a perfect night’s sleep, and morning coffee and evening caipirinhas must be taken on the balcony. Soothing tones, soft lines, natural stone and wooden floors are prevalent throughout – all playing to the natural light.
The hotel’s rooftop and L-shaped pool are one of the coolest places to soak in vitamin D. The soaring wall of greenery elevate the Emilie Restaurant into something spectacular, as in fact does the food itself thanks to French Chef Damien Montecer dedication to using only the best organic and seasonal Brazilian products. The Santapele Spa on the 11th floor is considered among the city’s best and offers a complete wellness journey to balance body and mind. On the same floor are also the saunas, special showers and the gym. A true beach resort, the property is literally a one minute walk from the beach.
Pullman Rio de Janeiro São Conrado - 9/10
Located across from the Sao Conrado beach, the excellent Pullman Rio de Janeiro São Conrado, formerly the Golden Tulip, has 416 rooms spread over 17 floors. The large rooms have soundproof windows and balconies that offer views of São Conrado Beach. They are equipped with air conditioning, cable television, free Wi-Fi and amenities, and with views of the ocean or the Pedra da Gávea mountain from some rooms. The hotel has a private swimming pool, a gym and a barbershop, together with sauna facilities and a Jacuzzi on-site.
You can have a buffet breakfast before going out to explore the area. The hotel’s lobby bar with a popular lounge and spacious terrace is popular in the evenings. Guests can enjoy French and European meals at Chez L'Ami Martin within 8 minutes walk of the property. Situated in the Zona Sul district, it is minutes from the large Sao Conrado Fashion Mal, yet close to the famed beach. The hotel is a 10-minute stroll that will take you to the Sao Conrado subway station. As they say, location, location, location.
Santa Teresa Hotel RJ – MGallery is located in the historic and cultural heart of Rio de Janeiro on a historic coffee farm that dates back to 1850. A boutique-style urban retreat in the heart of the Santa Teresa neighbourhood, the decor and architecture are inspired by the golden era of coffee and cocoa with the burnt cement, lime, golden slate and tropical wood forming part of the contemporary design of Sergio Rodrigues, Rock Lane, Studio Vitty, Zemog and Oficina de Agosto. The comfortable apartments and suites and decorated with pieces of Brazilian design furniture. Quiet, charming and bright, each room is connected to the lush gardens full of fruit trees.
The hotel has an open-air swimming pool overlooking the Guanabara Bay, and Le Spa, a haven in the heart of the city. At the Térèze restaurant indulge in fine local cuisine with a Latin American touch. It is perfect for a romantic dinner. The cool Bar dos Descasados welcomes all those who toast to life, with the sunset from the balcony unforgettable. With a unique personality, the hotel reflects the local culture and is involved with the community and sustainable practices.
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JANEIRO Hotel - 9/10
Bathed in natural light and with a constant sea breeze, the JANEIRO Hotel is located on Leblon beach. Brazilian lifestyle entrepreneurOskar Mestavaht’s first foray beyond his Osklen clothing label into the Rio hotel scene, the hotel is a bit of a fashion statement said to represent the perfect balance between urban life and nature. The JANEIRO Hotel maybe 18 floors high, but with only five rooms on each floor, it offers a real sense of space. All 51 apartments have sea views and an inherent calm. The wooden furniture is made from sustainable Freijó, and all details are considered in the amenities to ensure you feel at home during your stay. The bathrooms double as dressing rooms, with neatly wood-slatted wardrobes kept out of the sleeping area to increase the zen-like feel.
Nespresso machines and Harman Kardon speaker docks also come as standard. The main restaurant lies on the first floor and overlooks the beach. The focus is on seafood and regional favourites such as octopus and shrimp char-grilled to perfection. Leblon is Ipanema’s lesser-known, more upmarket neighbour and the hotel is surrounded by excellent restaurants and bars, from the meat-heavy Giuseppe Grill to classic post-beach beer stop Bracarense. Opened in mid-2018, JANEIRO has to date won two awards of international recognition.
Miramar Hotel by Windsor - 9/10
Located on Avenida Atlântica across from the Copacabana beach, the Miramar Hotel by Windsor is sophisticated and refined with exceptional views of the beach and Sugarloaf mountain from the rooftop terrace and granite-bottom pool. There is marble wherever you look, from the lobby to the rooms themselves. All 200 are equipped with the best in comfort and modernity, the sea-view rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows from which to take in the ocean from the huge beds. The décor is stylish in neutral greys and soft tones, with plenty of bleached wood to soften the feel. All feature free Wi-Fi, large flat-screen televisions and iPod docking systems. Bathrooms are opulent and packed with L’Occitane toiletries. Beautiful paintings of bygone Rio by local artists add to the flair.
The Miramar has different dining options including the award-winning Alloro Al Miramar Restaurant with its exclusive service and à la carte menu. The Lobby Bar and the Roof Bar provide comfort food throughout the day, while the Sá Restaurant is more formal with its creative twists on local classics. On this end of the beach, the waters are calmer for swimmers and stand-up paddle fans, the hip neighbourhoods of Arpoador and Ipanema are a short walk, and four blocks away are the lively late-night bars and restaurants of Rua Bolivar. Pets are welcome, with the hotel providing blankets and bowls.
Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro – 8.5/10
Overlooking a nature reserve, the Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro is strategically positioned in the heart of Barra da Tijuca between the ocean, the lake and the mountains just across from Reserva Beach. The 436 rooms each have a private balcony from which to appreciate the surroundings and are decorated with native stones and hand-selected fabrics. They have a large bath and amenities by Granado for added comfort. Opt for a Grand Club room for exclusive lounge access and daily cocktails. Or upgrade to one of the 43 suites for spacious living areas, landscaped terraces and an infinity pool.
Guests at Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro will find dining options at the three signature restaurants. Enjoy delicious sushi at Japanese Shiso, and experience Barra da Tijuca’s creative dishes and signature Caipirinha cocktails. Opening to the swimming pool and gardens, the Seafront restaurant is designed by Arthur Casas and offers a casual, yet chic space with outdoor terraces. A large art panel inspired by the Brazilian icon and landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx brings the space to life. The food served is a reflection of the relaxed ambience of the true Carioca neighbourhood atmosphere. The hotel has a sauna and fitness centre with a Yoga Studio. Beach service is available and offers chairs, parasols and towels.
Sofitel Rio de Janeiro Ipanema – 8.5/10
Located 4 kilometres from Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, Sofitel Rio De Janeiro Ipanema is within Rio’s popular shopping district. Just a 10-minute walk from Ipanema Beach, it features 221 spacious air-conditioned rooms, each with a sofa bed, private bathroom and bath. Coffeemakers, fridges and mod-con amenities add to the comfort, as does the natural light, and the whites and creams used in the decor. Many rooms have ocean views. A buffet breakfast is served at the venue's restaurant, and relaxed dining at the 23 Ocean Lounge a 5 minute’s walk from the property. The hotel has a lobby bar with a lounge and spacious terrace where guests gather in the evening.
A large rooftop swimming pool and deck offer incredible views, as does the gym and fitness studio, meaning workouts taken inspiration from the ocean blues and mountain beyond. There is a sauna onsite, and the spa offers a range of treatments. Sofitel Rio De Janeiro Ipanema Hotel has a gym and a fitness studio. You can enjoy the beach services offered by the hotel on Ipanema beach, which includes shower, umbrellas, towels and loungers. It is also a brief car trip from Rodrigo de Freitas Lake and Flamengo Regatta Club. The hotel is currently under refurb and will re-open shortly with a new improved look.
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