Travelers to Rio could easily be put into one of two camps: Fasano or Copacabana Palace. The style and culture of these hotels are so distinct that the traveler’s natural home should be clear. The adventurous will be rewarded, however, by crossing the tribal divide to experience how two very different types of hotels can give comfort and refuge in what is a sexy, magical but sometimes chaotic destination.
Location: On Ipanema Beach, near the intersection of Copacabana. Ipanema is the calmer and more upscale stretch of coast. It is a short walk to Leblon, the center for the most fashionable restaurants and shops.
Style: Fasano is the Brazilian interpretation of an Italian fashion hotel. Designed by long time Fasano collaborator Isey Weinfeld and Philippe Starck. Fasano is among the most iconic stylish boutique hotels such as the Mercer, Upper House, Costes and Milan’s Bulgari.
The crowd: Younger (30s and 40s), stylish international jetsetters and upscale Brazilians.
Rooms: Polished Brazilian wood in a clean, modern design. Bathrooms are relatively small and only suites have bathtubs. The ocean facing rooms or suites, each with a balcony, are the only ones to book. Staying in the less expensive but small back facing rooms is not recommended.
Restaurants: The Fasano is like a wood enrobed Cipriani, upscale and minimalist Northern Italian food with professional and rather formal service. World class beef carpaccio. A drink or dinner at the backlit bar counter is a treat for single travelers. The poolside restaurant with a covered lounge area serves delicious salads, sandwiches and Brazilian specialties like casquinha de siri (spiced crab served in a shell).
Gym/Spa. A small spa on the 3rd floor but with very nice treatments (we highly recommend the couples massage with joint bath with someone you love). There is a small but well outfitted gym by the rooftop pool, including a wet sauna. That said, we recommend running along the beach path and using the exercise stations along the way to get your workout.
The Bar: The Londra, a British themed bar and lounge that is one of the hippest places to pass an evening in Rio.
Greatest Amenity: The iconic rooftop pool. The scene of many fashion shoots. Come up to see the sunset over Gavea with a Capirinha to remind you how beautiful life can be.
Who should not stay: Those who do not like stylish boutique hotels and get annoyed by a sense of pretension that these types of places can sometimes evoke (we find the service here is excellent and much less forbidding than, say, Costes). Families with small children.
Marchay amenity: Late check in, check out and upgrade on availability. Breakfast, Wifi. $100 spa credit
Location: Towards the Northern end of Copacabana Beach. This is a more chaotic beach than Ipanema and you need to be careful at night. During the day it is a short bike ride or taxi to Leblon. Much of the cultural development in Rio is in emerging areas like Botofoca or Central, closer to Copa than Ipanema but still a taxi ride.
Style: A classic European style seaside hotel, similar to the Carlton in Cannes and the Splendido in Portofino.
Crowd: A broad mix of all ages, but mainly upscale international travelers and Brazilian business people and vacationers. Not as uniformly stylish as Fasano.
Rooms: Room design that would not be out of place in a luxury European city hotel. It is not at all beach themed or influenced. The hotel was renovated a few years ago so the property and rooms are in very good shape. We especially love the ocean or pool facing suites, around 700 square feet with separate seating areas and balconies.
Restaurants: Three good options. The poolside Pergula, serving a variety of continental options with very good salads and like dishes. Mee, a Michelin starred Asian restaurant spanning disparate cuisine from sushi to Thai. The grilled eggplant with miso glaze is amazing. On the far end of the pool is Cipriani, romantic and elegant. There is also a gelateria, Momo, abutting the beach with top quality gelato (the brigadeiro is the best), coffee and pastries.
Gym | Spa: Large spa in the old wing with treatment rooms, fully equipped gym and dry and wet saunas.
The Bar: Outside of Cipriani. They make very good cocktails and have a pianist, but it is not often that lively.
Greatest Amenity: The large pool, which is framed like a U by the hotel. Like Fasano, you will be content to spend your whole day here reading, swimming and drinking.
Who should not stay: Those who are intimidated by the disorder of Copacabana want to be able to walk from their hotel. Those who prefer smaller hotels.
Belmond Copacabana Palace|Av. Atlântica, 1702 – Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22021-001, Brazil|+55 21 2548-7070Fasano|Av. Vieira Souto, 80 – Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 22420-002, Brazil|+55 21 3202-4000