With their emphasis on warm, personalised service and quirky aesthetics, Rio de Janeiro’s boutique hotels are an excellent option for travellers keen to stay somewhere a little different.
Dramatic landscapes, world-famous beaches, and iconic mountain-top landmarks make Rio de Janeiro’s nickname, Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City), well-deserved. Whether you’re coming to watch the samba dancers at Carnaval or just to sip from a coconut and work on your tan, a visit to Rio is an unforgettable travel experience. For such a large city, Rio’s hotel scene is somewhat limited, dominated by large luxury hotels in the popular beach neighbourhoods. There’s also an offering of boutique hotels, most of which are located up in the hills of the bohemian Santa Teresa neighbourhood . Here are 10 of our favourites.
Hip but charming, Mama Ruisa is a darling of Rio’s boutique hotel scene – and for good reason. It’s housed in a beautiful old mansion that’s been restored to meet the tastes and demands of modern travellers. There are just seven guest rooms, each surprisingly spacious and featuring minimalist decor — and all offering views of the bay and Sugarloaf Mountain. Elsewhere in the hotel, there’s additional outdoor space, including a romantic front porch and a terrace with an outdoor pool. If you’re staying in the Junior suite, you can breakfast on your private balcony. For everyone else, there’s a hearty Brazilian-style spread served on the patio each morning. From $436 per person.
One of the main reasons to stay at Ipanema Inn is its location. Unlike most other boutique hotels in Rio, it’s a mere two-minute walk from the beach. And not just any beach: the iconic Ipanema, no less. The hotel itself is modern, if not overly fashionable. Guest rooms are quiet and functional, with contemporary amenities. A buffet breakfast is included in the room rate, and the onsite restaurant and bar stays open for all-day dining. With such easy access to the beach and many of the most popular sights in Rio, it’s a great home base during a stay in the city. From $261 per person.
Altos de Santa Teresa
Tucked away in the hills of Santa Teresa (the name translates to “the heights of Santa Teresa”), about a 10-minute drive southwest of downtown Rio, this stylish guesthouse offers guests an al fresco breakfast with dramatic views over Guanabara Bay and Sugarloaf Mountain. There’s also a wooden deck area with a small swimming pool and hot tub, plus plenty of space for outdoor lounging, all framed by verdant greenery. Guest rooms are on the small side, but with surroundings like these, you’re not likely to spend much time indoors, anyway. From $602 per person.
La Suite by Dussol
Another boutique hotel just steps from the sand, this upscale guesthouse has an array of notable amenities, including an infinity pool, a spa, a restaurant, and guest rooms complete with king-sized beds, iPod docking stations, and private balconies – some of which face the ocean. The views are even more impressive from the spacious pool deck, especially as the sun goes down and the lights start to flicker in the hills in the distance. From $170 per person.
Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro
It’s all about the views at this contemporary boutique hotel, situated right in front of Botafogo beach. Some of the guest rooms afford views of both Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains, the latter home to the world-famous Christ the Redeemer statue, while others face the ocean directly. Guests can also take in these enthralling vistas from the rooftop terrace complete with cocktail bar, or go for a dip in the outdoor swimming pool. Inside, the aesthetic is modern, with geometric tiled floors, palm tree graphics emblazoned on the ceilings, and a cool grey and white colour palette. From $223 per person.
Laying claim to being Rio’s only hotel located immediately on the Ipanema beachfront, this ocean-inspired hotel directly overlooks the sandy shoreline that stretches towards the distinctive rocks of Arpoador beach. Boasting a design heavy on nautical influences, it exudes a low-key carioca cool, with wicker-chaired seating area brightened by cobalt blue cushions in the lobby. There is a large steam room and sauna and the small pool and accompanying rooftop bar provides one of the best spots in the city to take in a sunset over the ocean. Bikes are also on hand for a quick spin up the beach. Guest rooms at the rear of the hotel maximise the sea views, and all room feature a Nespresso machine, soft robes, and beachfront balconies with hammocks. The acclaimed on-site restaurant offers a Brazilian-themed menu, and daily breakfasts are no ordinary affair, either. Ipanema’s array of upscale eateries, bars and shops are all within a few short blocks, while General Osorio Metro station and Copacabana are just 10 minutes away on foot. From $753 per person.
Situated in Rio’s upmarket Leblon district that neighbours Ipanema, this beachside hotel was the brainchild of acclaimed Brazilian fashion designer Oskar Mestavaht – and he’s stamped his stylish mark across the property. Standing 18 floors high, the casual chic that characterises his apparel can be seen in wall art inspired by the tropical city and the hand-crafted wooden furniture and natural panelling dotted around both communal areas and guest rooms. On the hotel’s top floor is a plunge pool and deck, and there’s an adjacent bar for unwinding with a caipirinha. The main restaurant, with its focus on seafood and regional favourites, lies on the first floor and overlooks the beach. Several excellent restaurants and bars, as well as every Rio’s fashionista’s favourite mall, Shopping Leblon, are all an easy walk away. From $397 per person.
A design-led boutique hostel concept, Selina Lap features a mix of stylish individual suites and shared dorms together with a co-working space. Nestled besides the white arches of Centro’s historic viaduct in the heart of the city’s nightlife scene, from the second you enter the hotel’s vast dark-wood doorway you’re struck by an all-encompassing style and swagger. A large, black-and-white mural of a sunglass-wearing face edged in gold instantly catches the eye, as does the bar with its combination of art deco and speakeasy glamour. A courtyard links the modern rear building that houses the dorms and suites, with a festooned roof terrace providing the perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks or nightcaps. Local attractions include one of the world’s great live music venues, Circo Voador, which is just seconds away. From $26 per person.
Vila Santa Teresa
Featuring just seven guest rooms, this intimate hotel in Rio’s Santa Teresa district is set on a private 12-acre family estate and boasts what many have hailed as the city’s swankiest outdoor pool and terrace bar. From its elevated position, guests can enjoy views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Guanabara Bay. Other notable on-site amenities include a restaurant, a spa, and a tranquil garden that’s perfect for relaxing and socialising. Elegant guest rooms come with a flat-screen TVs, comfy sitting areas and lavish private bathrooms. For fascinating insights into the history of samba dancing, the Samba Museum is just over a mile away. From $400 per person.
L’Homme de Rio
Set in the Copacabana district, a 15-minute walk from the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, L’homme de Rio comprises 10 stylishly-designed guest rooms overlooking a scenic garden. There’s an outdoor pool, a sundeck, a restaurant and a chic bar/lounge area. Guest rooms are equipped with flat-screen TVs, sumptuous robes and bed linens, and some also have balconies. Hearty buffet breakfasts are served each morning, setting you up perfectly for a day of sightseeing. The rocky peninsula of Pedra do Arpoador, popular with a surfers and offering superb sunset views from its walking paths, is close by, and General Osorio tube station is a 5-minute walk away, providing easy access to the rest of the city. From $140 per person.