The best luxury hotels in Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro may not have as many high-end hotels as one might expect from such a glitzy city, but the best accommodations here options really do offer something special.
The best luxury hotels in Rio come with a high price tag, but if you want to feel utterly fabulous in the cidade maravilhosa (or ‘wonderful city’, as Rio is known in Brazil), then these top picks are worth the splurge.
The undisputed Grande Dame of South America’s hotel scene, Copacabana Palace is an enduring beach beauty whose classic style has made it a favorite with visiting A-listers since its art deco doors swung open in the 1920s. A byword for glamorous travel throughout the decades, Copacabana Palace has played host to Madonna, the Rolling Stones, Will Smith and the Obamas – to name just few – in recent years, and it’s been brought up-to-date in recent years with the addition of a luxurious new spa and room refurbishments. The exterior remains as glistening-white as ever, the service is impeccable and extends to service on the beach itself (which is just a sandy-footed hop across the road) and the hotel pool is among the city’s best. The poolside bar and restaurant, Pergula, is open to non-guests and serves superior cocktails as well as a wonderful Sunday brunch, while the more formal Italian restaurant Cipriani has long been regarded as a highlight of Rio’s fine dining scene. A pan-Asian restaurant, Mee, opened in 2014 and has already garnered some stellar reviews. Copacabana Palace is one of the main postal cards of Copacabana.
This Philipe Starck-designed hotel is another favorite with visiting celebrities, thanks to its quirky-chic style and plum location right in front of Ipanema beach. The understated exterior – it looks like a super-smart apartment block from the outside – gives little away, but Starck clearly had fun with the interiors, adding colorful splashes such as candy-striped armchairs to an otherwise minimalist design. The bar here – Baretto-Londra – mixes Italian style with a punky London swagger, and is one of the hippest places in town to sip a cocktail. The hotel’s crowning glory, however, is the rooftop infinity pool, which affords views across the beach and over the mountain. At sunset, the views are extraordinary. The poolside bar sells upmarket snacks and superior juices as well as perfectly crafted cocktails – ideal for sipping in the pool as you watch the sun dip over the water.
Fasano Rio’s award-strewn Italian seafood restaurant, Fasano Al Mare, is an elegant space serving top-notch food, and is open to non-guests, but advance booking is essential.
Hotel Santa Teresa
The historic neighborhood of Santa Teresa is known as the ‘Montmartre of South America’ thanks to its breezy hilltop location and its artsy, bohemian vibe, and this stylish Rio de Janeiro hotel is a perfect base for exploring the steep cobbled streets of this characterful bairro. The hotel attracts luxury travelers looking for an alternative to the beachfront hotels – Amy Winehouse is among several high profile guests who have stayed here, making it her base during her last tour of Brazil. Rooms are expansive and fitted out with luxurious touches such as deep baths, there’s a spa and a cocktail bar with sofas for lounging, and the French restaurant – Terese – is a winner with foodie visitors. It’s a cab ride to the beach, but the gorgeous outdoor pool set in tropical gardens more than compensates. The hotel is right at the centre of Santa Teresa, making it ideal for visiting the neighborhood’s many independent bars and restaurants, as well as the abundant arts, handicrafts and vintage clothing stores.
La Suite Rio
This French-owned boutique hotel is hidden away from the tourist track in the exclusive mountainside neighborhood of Joatinga – known as the Beverly Hills of Rio in honor of its vast mansions overlooking the ocean. French panache meets Brazilian tropical flair at the hotel, whose infinity pool offers killer views over the mountains and beaches of the city. Each of the suites is individually designed and themed by color, and the fabulous decor combines with the astonishing views to make this hotel a perennial favorite with the fashion press. Service is attentive without being stuffy, and the breakfasts are a treat. It feels a world away from the crowded beach neighborhoods, but in fact it’s just a 10-minute drive to Leblon. Just a few minutes’ walk from the hotel is a beach so secluded it feels practically private, making La Suite a perfect choice for a honeymoon or other romantic break.
Foto: Irenon Flickr