Live the Carioca Lifestyle at These 5 Stunning Hotels in Rio de Janeiro
The explosive excitement and wave of new visitors brought on by the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games kicked Rio into overdrive. Now, dilapidated buildings and once seedy districts are now the home of game-changing museums, hot-spot restaurants, and design-forward hotels that nod to the city’s modernist roots. Clearly, there’s never been a better time to visit the Cidade Maravilhosa. From a sultry hilltop hideaway to a sleek new high-rise with the city’s best views, here are five stylish hotels to consider when you go.
Like moths to a flame, Rio’s movers and shakers have beelined for the Fasano ever since it debuted in 2007—seduced, no doubt, by its Philippe Starck–designed interiors, sceney rooftop infinity pool, and proximity to Ipanema Beach. Inspired by the city’s modernist heritage, Fasano cherry-picked 50s- and 60s-style furniture from Brazilian designers like Oscar Niemeyer and Sérgio Rodrigues to offset all that leather and Grecian marble, though it’s the floor-to-ceiling window views of the Atlantic and surrounding Ipanema that truly wow. There’s also a top-notch Italian seafood restaurant and bar, but the rooftop is where you want to enjoy that caipirinha—and those famous Rio sunsets.
Belmond Copacabana Palace
If you never stepped foot off property during a stay at the Belmond Copacabana Palace, we wouldn’t blame you. We’d probably have an impossible time leaving ourselves. This Belle Époque beauty, modeled after hotels along the French Riviera, is where everyone that’s anyone—Hollywood royalty, actual royalty, dignitaries—comes to while away their days in Rio, be it digging into Michelin-starred meals at Pan-Asian hot spot MEE, sunning by the semi-Olympic-size pool, or socializing at the piano bar after an afternoon at legendary Copacabana Beach, just steps away. Guest rooms have been renovated for modern times but still retain their high-ceilinged, Art Deco air (some even have their own balconies, which get you that much closer to the sea).
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Hotel Santa Teresa
Sick of those crowded beaches? For a dose of Rio’s tropical side, it doesn’t get more immersive than this boho-chic former plantation house hidden away on a hill in quiet Santa Teresa. Décor nods to Brazil’s heritage—dark wood floors, shutters that filter in sunlight, indigenous crafts—while more modern pieces (like Sergio Rodrigues chaises and original art) up the style quotient. The property’s stunning, vibrant flower garden is its biggest draw, but there’s also an 80-foot pool that overlooks the neighborhood villas and Guanabara Bay, an intimate spa, and an award-winning terrace restaurant called Tereze that serves Franco-Brazilian fusion to the city’s foodies.
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The hills of Santa Teresa, far away from the buzz of Ipanema, are the perfect perch for this tranquil seven-room mansion hideout, which feels more like the home of some very chic collector. In fact, it used to be: in 1871, Frenchman Jean Michel Ruis bought and redecorated Mama Ruisa with his favorite finds (Belle Époque china, old maps, Marimekko prints, drawings by Jean Cocteau) while leaving the most important bones of the place—namely, the curved wood staircase and front porch, which looks out over Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain. The seven suites are themed (of course) but all feature hardwood floors and doors that open out onto private balconies. There’s even a plunge pool in the garden where straw hats await on cushioned loungers—more for fashion than function, since the swinging palm trees above provide more than enough shade.
Hotelier Gustavo Filgueiras and his jewelry designer wife have finally followed up their debut hotel in São Paulo with a sister hotel in Rio, smack on Copacabana Beach. Like its futuristic soon-to-be neighbor down the street (the Museum of Image and Sound), Emiliano snubs the neighborhood’s typical concrete façades for something entirely different: a series of articulated panels that can be moved to control sunlight, privacy, and ventilation in its 90 guest rooms. Inside, it's just as organic: the concrete-and-stone lobby is enlivened by an original Burle Marx panel, while the restaurant, which spotlights organic local ingredients like hearts of Pupunha palm, features a multi-story vertical garden on its far wall. Yes, there’s even a rooftop infinity pool—but architects Arthur Casas and Chad Oppenheim have ensured you can enjoy those same beach and Sugar Loaf views from your own digs. Sleeping in encouraged.
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