The Best Hotels in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Expect a rooftop terrace, yoga deck and cocktail bar at this trendy Lapa stay
Expect a rooftop terrace, yoga deck and cocktail bar at this trendy Lapa stay | Courtesy of Selina Lapa / Expedia

Overseen by the colossal monuments Sugarloaf Mountain and infamous Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro overflows with bustling Carnival culture and the spirit of samba. If you’re planning a trip to Brazil’s second largest city, look no further for the best hotels that live up to its enduring reputation.

1. MGallery Santa Teresa Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

Suite Hotel, Hotel, Independent Hotel

MGallery Santa Teresa Hotel, Rio de Janeiro
Courtesy of MGallery Santa Teresa Hotel / Expedia

Popular with artists and tourists, the surrounding neighbourhood here is known for its narrow, winding streets and spectacular views. The hotel itself, a former coffee plantation mansion, features traditional, elegant wooden furnishings, updated with contemporary design by popular Brazilian designers. Close by are a number of art galleries, restaurants and bars, as well as the Museu da Chacara do Ceu, which houses artworks by Matisse, Metzinger and Visconti among many others.

2. Le Relais de Marambaia, Rio de Janeiro

Serviced Apartment

Le Relais de Marambaia, Rio de Janeiro
Courtesy of Le Relais de Marambaia, Rio de Janeiro / Expedia

An hour from the bustling centre of Rio de Janeiro, the Le Relais de Marambaia is a relaxing escape from the madness of the carnival atmosphere, offering its guests incredible ocean views from its hilltop location. Inside, the hotel boasts a mix of minimalist European decor and Brazilian design. Guests can enjoy a bite to eat within the hotel where the underlying European influence comes to the fore, specialising in French cuisine.

3. Fasano, Rio De Janeiro

Hotel

Fasano, Rio De Janeiro
Courtesy of Fasano / Expedia

Sister to the Fasano Sao Paulo, the ultra-cool Fasano Rio de Janeiro is located on the Ipanema Beach close to a number of art galleries and cinemas. Inside, the hotel boasts the design work of French designer Philippe Starck, who styled the hotel with 1950s furnishings and plenty of darkened hardwood. The rooftop is occupied by a pool, sauna and fitness centre, while the acclaimed restaurant, Fasano al Mare, serves up fresh Italian cuisine from the region with a predominant focus on seafood.

4. Mama Shelter Rio

Boutique Hotel

Mama Shelter Rio
Courtesy of Mama Shelter Rio / Expedia

Philippe Starck protégé, Amor Jalil, is behind the design of this trendy, budget hotel in Santa Teresa – Rio’s bohemian hilltop quarter. Built around a beautiful colonial courtyard, high in the hills, Mama Shelter may not be the stereotypical Rio beach bum hangout, but it does put you in the thick of the city’s hottest hipster hangouts and a cool, fun-loving crowd.

5. Janeiro Hotel

Luxury

Janeiro Hotel
Courtesy of Janeiro Hotel / Expedia

Oskar Metsavaht, founder of high-end, Brazilian fashion brand Osklen, transitioned effortlessly into hospitality with this uber eye-pleasing debut in the swanky Rio beachfront neighborhood, Leblon. Architect Lia Siqueira was charged with creating a runway-ready place to sleep and has delivered a delightful mix of travertine marble, Brazilian freijó wood and raffia curved pews from which to admire the perfectly framed sea views, including world-beating sunsets from the rooftop infinity pool.

6. Emiliano Rio

Suite Hotel, Hotel

Emiliano Rio
Courtesy of Emiliano Rio / Expedia

Emiliano set the bar for elegance in Sao Paulo’s hotel scene back in 2001, but it took mastermind Gustavo Filgueiras another 15 years to emulate his success and bring some panache to the jaded beach district of Copacabana – in time for Rio’s Olympics. Brazilian architect Arthur Casas and Miami-based Chad Oppenheim supply design details throughout, including a contemporary honeycomb brise-soleil facade, a top-tier infinity pool and a lush vertical garden in chef Camilo Vanazzi’s upscale eatery, Emile.

7. La Suite by Dussol

Luxury, Boutique Hotel

La Suite by Dussol
Courtesy of La Suite by Dussol / Expedia

La Suite by Dussol is the tropical folly of French brothers, François-Xavier and Jacques Dussol, that shines brightly with seven rainbow-colored, maximalist suites in the exclusive beachfront district of Joatinga. Anywhere else and this high-end hotel would be considered the height of kitsch, but you can blame it on Rio and the stunning setting for its enduring allure. High up in the hills of Joa, the wraparound balconies and Oscar Niemeyer-inspired infinity pool are where you’ll spend most of your time, soaking up the dreamy views of Rio’s beaches.

8. Hotel Arpoador

Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel

Hotel Arpoador
Courtesy of Hotel Arpoador / Expedia

From above it appears that Rio’s celebrated beach scene hinges perfectly on the triangular rooftop plunge pool of Thiago Bernardes’ slick refit of Arpoador Hotel. The hotel, named after the popular sundowner spot and the promontory between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, wears its prime location with pride. This boat-like, boutique hotel with 49 rooms makes the most of its tiny footprint with hammocks, ingenious hideaway furniture and a popular ground-floor eatery.

9. Selina Lapa

Chain Hotel, Hotel, Hostel, Budget Hotel

Selina Lapa
Courtesy of Selina Lapa / Expedia

At night, Rio’s Lapa district is street-party central for bohemian samba-slingers; during the day, it’s the startup-scene epicenter. With its work-hard, play-hard outlook on life, it’s no surprise that Selina landed in this part of town. There are rooftop cinema screenings, a South American-inspired restaurant, yoga deck and cocktail bar. Samba classics are piped into the building from the in-house radio station, located in the lobby, where a passing parade of musicians come to visit.

10. Hilton Barra

Chain Hotel, Budget Hotel

Hilton Barra Rio De Janeiro
Courtesy of Hilton Barra Rio De Janeiro / Expedia

Big for business travelers, thanks to its close proximity to Riocentro Convention Center in Barra da Tijuca, this hotel announced Hilton’s debut in the Cidade Maravilhosa as the city limbered up for the Olympics. It’s not by the beach, so you’ll appreciate the chance to take a dip in the rooftop pool and jacuzzi. The Abelardo Restaurant dishes up Brazilian staples.

11. Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro

Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel

Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro
Courtesy of Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro / Expedia

The Yoo2 hotel brand amplifies the essential Rio experience at this playful beachfront base in trendy Botafogo. The lush, tropical plant-filled interiors, Athos Bulcão-inspired azulejo tiles and an enviable view of Sugarloaf mountain provide a triptych treat for design-savvy guests. There’s also the 12-hour, slow-cooked barbecue ribs and glazed seafood risotto cooked in plantain cachaça at on-point Cariocally restaurant to keep you here, too.

12. Casa Amarelo

Guesthouse

Casa Amarelo
Courtesy of Casa Amarelo / Expedia

This old bourgeois house, built in 1904, offers an authentic stay in the hills of bohemian Santa Teresa, popular with Brazilian writers, artists and musicians. Decked out with tropical prints, the seven suites of this charming ‘yellow house’ play a huge part in putting Santa Teresa on the map for visitors looking for more than the beach in Rio de Janeiro.

13. Belmond Copacabana Palace

Boutique Hotel, Hotel

Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro
Courtesy of Belmond Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro / Expedia

Since it opened in 1923, Copacabana Palace has epitomised the carefree abandon of a night in Rio de Janeiro. Dripping in decadence, it’s difficult to tire of the uplit, art deco masterpiece and the chance to rub shoulders at the pool with Brazil’s beau monde. The penthouse suites, with their own private terrace and pool, are a cut above the rest. Gourmands will want to stay for at least two nights to sample both of the hotel’s Michelin-star restaurants – Cipriani, serving northern Italian dishes, and Mee, Rio’s only pan-Asian restaurant to have earned the prestigious accolade.

This is an updated version of an article originally written by Laurence Gardner.

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