The largest country in South and Latin America, Brazil is the place to come for a fiesta. Its capital, Rio de Janeiro, is usually the first stop for tourists. Here you can see landmarks like Sugarloaf Mountain and the towering Christ the Redeemer statue, party at the epic Rio carnival and sunbathe on the world-famous Copacabana beach. But travel further afield and you’ll experience the lush rainforest, breathtaking Iguassu Falls and can take a cruise down the Amazon. Whether you want to kick back in an all-inclusive resort or get up close with local life, here are the best hotels to choose.
Rio de Janeiro
Copacabana Palace, A Belmond Hotel, Rio De Janeiro
A shining example of Rio’s glamour, this neo-classical Grande Dame has been in business since the roaring twenties. It faces out onto the beach, where guests can receive a waiter drinks service. On the third floor, there’s a rooftop tennis court and a large glitzy pool area. The food and drink offer comprises the terrace Pérgula restaurant, Italian eatery Cipriani and Mee, a Michelin starred establishment under the direction of Ken Hom. Guests who’ve stayed at this landmark hotel include Prince Charles, Mick Jagger, Madonna, Cameron Diaz, Tom Cruise, Paul McCartney, and Lenny Kravitz. Black and white prints of past patrons adorn the walls, while chandeliers, wood panelling and marble add to the palatial feel.
Hotel Fasano Rio De Janeiro
A glass-walled infinity pool overlooking Sugar Loaf Mountain and the ocean is the epitome of contemporary elegance at Hotel Fasano Rio De Janeiro. The French designer Philippe Starck had a hand in creating this 91 bedroom property with a spa, resulting in a modernist industrial chic finish sporting hints of retro. Dine on imaginative seafood dishes at Fasano Al Mare and spend the later part of the evening listening to live bands and DJs, while sipping on exotic cocktails at Barreto Londra. This Ipanema facing hotel is favoured by the likes of Madonna, Beyonce, the Beckhams, Lady Gaga and One Direction.
Another example of modernist architecture, Hotel Emiliano is the work of native designer Arthur Casas. The decor pays homage to Rio’s mid-century heyday, with neutral tones and a minimal approach. A restaurant, Emilie, serves forward-thinking Brazilian-French fusion cuisine and features a huge tropical living wall. On the rooftop, a long, narrow infinity pool overlooks Copacabana Beach. Treatments at the Santapele Spa are all about rebalancing the body and are based on the three pillars of relaxation, revitalisation and detoxification. Crisp white linens and tan leather armchairs are found in the bedrooms, along with Santapele toiletries (Emiliano’s own brand).
Santa Teresa Hotel RJ Mgallery
A coffee farm in the 19th century, Santa Teresa is named after the neighbourhood in which the hotel resides, with decor inspired by the property’s own heritage; native materials such as burnt cement, lime, wine and golden slate, tropical woods, banana, buritia and bacaba fibres have been used in the design. Accommodation is made up of apartments and suites beside fruit-filled gardens, and artworks by Sergio Rodrigues, Studio Vitty and Rock Lane are showcased throughout. The MGallery Collection hotel also has a pool with views over Guanabara Bay, Le Spa, Térèze restaurant and Bar dos Descasados.
In 2018 Osklen designer Oskar Metsavaht created JANEIRO, a boutique hotel with 51 apartments. Found in Leblon, a residential ocean-fronted district, the eco-minded property is all about simplicity (Metsavaht himself created the concept ‘ASAP’ – as sustainable as possible – an ideology implemented at the venue). Materials such as blond freijó wood, travertine marble, pirarucu fish skin leather and organic cotton linens meld with circular porthole style plate glass windows, wicker hanging chairs, black and white photos and floating staircases. The Little Pool Bar proffers views across to Two Brothers mountain, while a ground floor bar and restaurant look out onto the street. JANEIRO has two further restaurants, one of which serves Japanese tasting menus.
Grand Hyatt Rio De Janeiro
An urban resort designed to suit all types of travellers, the Grand Hyatt in Rio is located in Barra da Tijuca. Backing right onto the beach, hotel staff are on hand to provide towels, parasols and refreshments. Or guests can venture below ground, to a serene spa and a fitness suite. On the other side of the Grand Hyatt lies a large lake, with hills beyond – rooms facing either this vista or the sea can be booked. Like JANEIRO, this venue offers a Japanese tasting menu, along with Italian and Brazilian restaurants. More family-friendly than some of the other big names in the city, Grand Hyatt has a programme of weekend activities for little ones.
Emiliano São Paulo
This hip-design hotel rises upward on the city horizon and while the interiors may be minimalist, they reflect the area’s tropicality. Guests can take a dip in hot tubs secreted in a pretty Japanese garden, admire the suspended orchid garden, recline in barside spaghetti-like rope chairs and nibble on caviar in the sophisticated restaurant. The Japanese theme extends to the calming bedrooms; notably, the toilets which are equipped with high-tech jets, dryers and heated seats, as well as contemporary Japanese-style wall screens. Expect excellent service throughout the Emiliano and in its spa.
Hotel Fasano São Paulo
Leading Brazilian architects Isay Weinfeld and Marcio Kogan helped to create this vintage style building, an ode to European style circa 1940. Inside, the decor incorporates tan leather furnishings, polished herringbone wood floors, Eames chairs and fireplaces. Fasano has 50 bedrooms (ten of which are suites), a fitness centre, excellent destination restaurants, a spa (offering medical as well as relaxing treatments), a swimming pool and the Baretto piano bar, where jazz and bossa-nova are performed by top musicians. Found in the Jardins neighbourhood, it’s an ideal location for those wishing to shop, or explore the area’s restaurants, cafes and bars.
Hotel Unique Sao Paulo
So named because of its striking exterior, this hotel is unlike any other in the city, or quite possibly, the world. Like Fasano, Unique is found in Jardins; a glass-walled, cactus-lined, long, thin rooftop pool giving an outlook over the district. This part of the hotel is the place to be at the weekends, with a legendary party vibe. Inside you’ll find architecture as surprising as the outside — a curved library, massive porthole windows and bold art installations. Don’t miss the brightly hued indoor pool; it has a slide, and, like the outdoor pool, underwater music. Unique has 94 bedrooms and suites, plus two restaurants and welcomes four-legged friends.
Tivoli Mofarrej São Paulo
Renowned for housing the largest Presidential Suite in Latin America, the skyscraper Tivoli is the place to be for superb views. The restaurant, SEEN, is 23 floors up, with 360-degree panoramas and award-winning chef William Ribeiro at the helm. There’s also a sushi bar with a sake menu and a relaxed bistro. Rooms are decorated in browns and creams, with contemporary simplicity and urban-chic touches. Tivoli Mofarrej’s Antara Spa offers Thai and Asian inspired treatments, including acupuncture, shiatsu and thalassotherapy. Don’t miss the craft drinks at MUST bar; the bartender Jessica Sanchez has been named best in Brazil and South America.
This five-star establishment is most unusual for São Paulo, in that it’s surrounded by greenery, namely the Burle Marx Park. This provides a real sense of retreat from the city’s unrelenting bustle, augmented by its Flora Spa. Palacio Tangara opened in 2017, gathering accolades from Conde Nast, Forbes Travel Guide and the Michelin Guide over the past few years. Multi-awarded Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten opened his first South American restaurant here, serving a blend of French and Asian gastronomy with pops of Brazilian flavour. An alfresco terrace overlooks the outdoor pool and park, while the Burle Bar provides an indoor zone for elegant drinking.