Blog post type – Best of List
Booking a hotel in a country you’re visiting for the first time when you don’t speak the language is a bit daunting. It seems simple if you hunt around on the internet, but do your research to match expectations and promise. I visited Rio just before Carnival and watched the frenzy ramp up while visiting several different neighborhood hotels.
Recognized as an international party city, Rio also has quiet neighborhoods, flourishing arts districts, high fashion design to the notorious, hillside favelas. The best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro depends on whether you can splurge or have backpacker budget.
1. Love hotels – Not what you’d imagine
In the Brazilian Portuguese, motels are actually “love hotels,” and they are perfectly legal. In Brazil most young singles live with their parents until they’re married. Romance is ever creative and over time, love hotels that rent by the hour have filled a niche keeping Brazilians happy and the population booming. Many of these are being turned into ‘family hotels’ offering medium range prices for those coming to Rio for sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup.
My family rented two rooms in a love hotel on a quiet street of the Flamengo neighborhood. While we felt a world away from the touristy areas of the city, there were restaurants, parks, pubs and public transportation half a block away.
At first I thought we had been given the honeymoon suite by accident. There was a very small dining area separated by a door into a bedroom paneled in mirrors – everywhere. The bed crinkled a bit from its plastic mattress cover and there was a roomy Jacuzzi. That’s what most of the rooms were like. It was comfortable but a bit claustrophobic with small windows opening onto a dark, grey window-well, but we weren’t in Rio to spend much time in our hotel room.
2 Luxury on Copacabana Beach
Most Rio visitors want to spend their days on the famous beaches of Copacabana or the ritzier Ipanema for good reasons. That’s where you’ll find the iconic Brazil babes on the beach, teeming cafes, and bars; long rows of souvenir and swimsuit shops.
The five-star, Copacabana Palace is one of the world’s finest hotels. Rising like an art deco phoenix above the strand, movie stars and presidents have stopped to enjoy its excesses. If you’re on a more modest budget there are still plenty of other options in the vicinity.
We stayed several nights at a high-rise hotel one block from the beach but close to restaurants and not far from the Cidade Copacabana shopping mall with its designer shops and multitude of restaurants.
The Ipanema neighborhood reminded me of New York’s Fifth Avenue with its luxury storefronts and hotels. If it had been up to me, I’d have booked a boutique hotel in the Lapa district amongst the art galleries and home to dozens of nightclubs bursting with samba, forró, and choro rhythm. Once a drug infested, dangerous area it’s turned around as the city has been investing in tourism and security.
3. Alternatives for the best places to stay in Rio de Janeiro
That said there are many other creative options for where to stay in Rio de Janeiro. Airbnb hosts are sprinkled throughout the city. Several homestays are open in the favelas and the hillsides are dotted with small boutique hotels fashioned out of mansions and homes. Further from the beaches and most tourist attractions these offer unique spaces and stunning views throughout Rio de Janeiro. You can find out more about getting in and around Rio here.
This post was sponsored by Hipmunk but opinions and comments are always my own.
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