Rio de Janeiro's best neighborhoods for tourists and the hotels to stay in for beach activities, nightlife and extended stays

By Tetiana PavlichenkoApr 8, 2024 14:42 PMThe best
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Rio de Janeiro's best neighborhoods for tourists and the hotels to stay in for beach activities, nightlife and extended stays
Rio has a mass of stunning places to stay. Source: Image LhcCoutinho/Pixabay

Rio de Janeiro is a picturesque city of extraordinary beauty: it is surrounded by the waters of Guanabara Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, jungle-covered peaks, and miles of creamy sand. It is diverse and stunning: its famous beaches are not just a place to sunbathe, but a destination and the nightlife is legendary. Deciding where to stay for the duration of the trip will be a challenge for the tourist, as each neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro has its charm. But this choice is extremely important, as it can affect the overall impression of the city.

Beach neighborhoods are the most popular for accommodation in Rio: quiet Leme, legendary Copacabana, trendy Ipanema, but in recent years the inner parts of the city have also created a whole sphere of boutique hotels. Whether you plan to stay on the coast or in the city, Rio de Janeiro is able to offer a wide range of hotels to choose from, from beach hideaways to luxury boutiques. Use this guide to the best tourist areas and hotels to book at to determine the perfect base for your Rio de Janeiro vacation.

Best Beach Hotels

Those wishing to discover gorgeous beaches across the street from their hotel room should look for hotels in Rio de Janeiro neighborhoods such as Ipanema, Leblon, and Copacabana. The latter, with its classic "old school" atmosphere, is also one of the oldest parts of the city with a fine range of hotels, while Leblon and Ipanema are filled with stylish boutiques and restaurants, and the beaches are lined with fashionable crowds and fun-loving groups.

These beach areas of Rio de Janeiro have many good places to stay, good transportation links with access to subways and buses, and the famous Copacabana Eagle Alley offers walks along the picturesque coastline. Almost every hotel provides guests with beach chairs, towels, and umbrellas, so they don't have to find rentals on their own or carry extra luggage.

Copacabana Palace

Rio de Janeiro's best neighborhoods for tourists and the hotels to stay in for beach activities, nightlife and extended stays
The hotel is one of the symbols of Rio de Janeiro's coastline. Source: Image Belmond.com

For over a century, one of the most luxurious places to stay in Rio de Janeiro has remained the famously grand Copacabana Palace. It opened in 1923 and has hosted many celebrities throughout its history, from Princess Diana to Madonna and the Rolling Stones.

The chic hotel is a white-washed Art Deco palace inspired by the seaside resorts of the French Riviera. The place is steeped in old-world glamor, and the rooms are decorated with French fabrics and mahogany furniture. Hotel guests can expect cinematic sunset views by the pool, sunbathing on the golden beach, and legendary festivities at night. The unique gastronomic experience is also not to be missed: sample South American dishes at Pergula Restaurant, savor Italian cuisine, and indulge in delicacies at Rio Mee and Ristorante Hotel Cipriani, two of Rio's top Michelin-starred restaurants.

If your trip to Rio is scheduled for New Year's Eve, you can't miss one of the city's biggest celebrations with music shows and fireworks on the beach in front of the hotel.

Emiliano Rio

The luxury hotel brand from São Paulo added another luxury branch to its collection in 2017, choosing Copacabana for its location.

Emiliano is oceanfront and features 90 exclusive rooms. Sophisticated, modern, and stylish, the hotel will appeal to connoisseurs of expensive design: the interior with wood, gold accents, and white marble emphasizes the fusion of mid-century modernism and the concept of a seaside resort. Panoramic windows make rooms even more spacious, flooding them with natural light and superb ocean views. Room amenities are on par with the best hotels in Rio de Janeiro: inside the suites, there is a bedroom with a large cozy bed, Egyptian silk linens, a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and balcony.

In the on-site restaurant you can enjoy organic food al fresco on the balcony, but inside the atmosphere is just as remarkable thanks to the beautiful vertical garden. Beach activities are worth diluting with elements of urban relaxation, such as a treatment at the spa or leisure time in the rooftop area. Rooftop pools are not unusual in Rio, but Emiliano stands out among them with its stunning glass-edged landscape pool.

Miramar Hotel by Windsor

Travelers aiming for the best areas to stay in Rio de Janeiro near the beach should check out the Miramar in Copacabana. It is a great option with spacious and bright rooms, good service, and a great location.

It has 200 rooms with calm, classic interiors and modern amenities. The hotel is pet friendly: cats and dogs up to 5 kg are welcome, and the room will provide additional pet amenities upon request.

The gastronomic experience at Miramar is highlighted by the regional Italian cuisine of the Alloro Al Miramar restaurant. A buffet breakfast is served in the mornings, but the hotel also has a lobby bar and lounge area with cocktails and a rooftop pool. From here you have a wonderful view of Copacabana Beach and the colorful rooftops of the Cantagallo favela behind the hotel. Many tourist attractions such as the Copacabana Fort, beaches, and theaters are nearby, and in addition to these is one of the city's classic Bip Bip establishments where you can find live samba.

Fasano Rio de Janeiro

One of the trendiest hotels in Rio de Janeiro represents the first project of the famous designer Philippe Starck. It pays tribute to the spirit of Brazilian architecture of the 1950s-1960s and the Bossa Nova era.

The hotel is located in the lively part of Ipanema. It has prepared 89 rooms and suites with elegant interiors for its guests. Each is furnished with hardwood and leather furniture and décor and has a private balcony with ocean views. There are two restaurants, as well as a bar on the 8th floor exclusively for guests. It is the most popular place to relax at the hotel thanks to the landscaped rooftop pool, which boasts superb views of the entire length of Ipanema Beach, from the Dois-Irmos peaks at one end and the Arpoador cliffs at the other.

The Fasano is one of the most popular hotels for beach activities in Rio de Janeiro, and it's worth contacting the concierge to organize them. They provide guests with free surfing equipment, help plan beach activities, and coordinate bike rentals. After an active beach vacation, check out the ground-floor spa, which offers body, hair, and facial treatments, and a beauty salon.

Hotel Arpoador

Rio de Janeiro's best neighborhoods for tourists and the hotels to stay in for beach activities, nightlife and extended stays
The roofs of the best hotels are equipped with cozy oases with swimming pools. Source: Image hotelarpoador.com

Arpoador is the only hotel in Ipanema that is not separated from the beach by a busy street, but only by a paved path for joggers and bikers. It practically stands on the sand, within walking distance of nightclubs and other entertainment. This prime location has become an advantage among travelers looking for good places in Rio de Janeiro for a busy vacation by the water and the best ocean views.

After the renovation, the hotel's design has also become a landmark thanks to the modernist combination of concrete, glass, and wood. The interiors are done in a gentle nautical color scheme and are minimalistic but not boring. Rooms are equipped with nice luxury accents like high-quality bathrobes, bath amenities, and coffee machines in addition to basic amenities.

Arp's restaurant and beach bar is more like a separate resort, as it's open from dawn to dusk. It serves an excellent continental breakfast, Brazilian cuisine, and seafood for lunch and dinner, while the bar menu consists of caipirinhas and an excellent range of cocktails and other drinks. Right behind the hotel is the 500-meter Arpoador Beach, considered the best surfing beach in Rio. The hotel provides umbrellas and towels for relaxing on the beach, and there are also lessons for learning to surf.

Janeiro Hotel

Guests can enjoy beautiful sunrises and sea breezes at one of Rio's finest hotels, located on the cosmopolitan Leblon Beach.

This adults-only hideaway on the most luxurious stretch of sand is the brainchild of Oscar Metsavat, founder of the renowned Brazilian fashion brand Osklen. The hotel opened in 2018, embodying the concept of simple luxury with an emphasis on sustainability. The decor features locally made furniture made from recycled materials and Brazilian artwork. All rooms are sunny and tranquil, decorated in soft and gentle natural hues, and have ocean views. The public (trendy to match the hotel's sophisticated ambiance) descends on the first-floor restaurant for Brazilian cuisine with an emphasis on local ingredients, but their attention is also drawn to the neighborhood bar with an open-air beach perch overlooking the water.

The highlight of the hotel is the marble rooftop pool, which has become a popular location for Instagram shots. From here you have a magnificent panorama of the Atlantic Ocean, so if you're looking for which part of Rio de Janeiro to stay in to admire the sunset with a mojito in hand, this is your option. The hotel is located in an upscale neighborhood within a 10-minute walk of the charming Rua Diaz Ferreira, filled with great restaurants and designer stores. The Janeiro Hotel is open to guests over the age of 12.

Best hotels for nightlife

Entertainment after the sun goes down can be found in many different areas of Rio, but it's worth highlighting Botafogo, Lapa, and Catete as the best among them and most popular with fans of a vibrant nightlife. For example, Lapa is home to some of the city's iconic samba venues and has many inexpensive and alternative scenes, while Botafogo boasts an impressive concentration of all-night bars and clubs.

All of these neighborhoods are quite small and are close to each other. There is also plenty to do here during the daytime as well. For example, visit some of the key attractions: the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Cathedral, Escadaria Celeron, the Municipal Theater, and so on. From Wednesday to Saturday, the streets and squares become a party in the evenings, filled with young people partying in local bars and open-air restaurants. So if you're traveling to Rio de Janeiro for nightlife and all-night dancing, stay in these neighborhoods to get to popular establishments on foot or with a short Uber ride.

Yoo2 Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro's best neighborhoods for tourists and the hotels to stay in for beach activities, nightlife and extended stays
The hotel combines local spirit with ultra-modern design. Source: Image Yoo2.com.

One of Rio's trendiest hotels to stay at for nightlife lovers, it boasts ultra-modern design and stunning views of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf. It is located in the center of the Botafogo district, close to local trendy bars, restaurants, local artisan workshops, boutiques, and stores.

The hotel has 143 rooms and suites, which can be your perfect base from which to explore the city. The interiors of the rooms and the hotel as a whole pay homage to the ambiance of the neighborhood, known for its artistic communities and boutiques. A mandatory part of a stay here involves relaxing on the sun terrace near the rooftop pool, which offers a breathtaking panorama. It's a great way to enjoy the tranquility after strolling the busy streets of Rio. There's also a rooftop bar that's worth including in the best places to spend a night out in Rio de Janeiro: you don't have to leave the hotel but can spend the evening at a friendly party with music, regular DJ sets, and a great selection of champagne, wines, and cocktails.

Other facilities include a restaurant serving contemporary Brazilian and international cuisine, a cozy lounge in the lobby, a gym, and a spa.

Vila Galé Rio de Janeiro

One of the best boutique hotels in the epicenter of Rio's nightlife is located on the main street of Lapa Rua Riachuelo. It is among the neighborhoods to stay in if you want to always be in the thick of Rio de Janeiro's action. The most famous samba venues in the city are nearby, such as Rio Scenarium, Bar Carioca da Gema, and Clube dos Democraticos.

The hotel is located in the Bairro da Lapa neighborhood, famous for its bohemian atmosphere that attracts musicians and carioca artists. It has 292 rooms divided into two wings. One is occupied by a restored old 19th-century palace, while the other is a 13-story tower with rooms in a more modern style. The hotel has two restaurants and two bars, but its main highlight is the large outdoor pool with umbrellas and sun loungers around the perimeter, where you can relax with a cocktail before a busy evening. To regain energy after a night out, guests can check out the spa center with a hot tub, massage rooms, and a Turkish bath.

Best hotels for privacy

For tourists who are primarily looking not only for beaches and fun but also for immersion in history and the richness of local culture, the best neighborhood to stay in Rio de Janeiro may be Santa Teresa. It is full of art galleries, museums, and gorgeous colonial buildings.

It is one of the few neighborhoods in Rio de Janeiro where you can experience what it was like in its golden days. Santa Teresa sits on top of a hill, so from here you have a great view of the city and especially of Sugar Loaf. There is a very different aesthetic here, more casual than in other parts of the city, filled with street art. During a stroll, tourists can discover eclectic stores, interesting artist galleries, traditional bars, and quirky cafes.

There are not many tourists here, and they are mostly observed in the vicinity of the Celaron Squadron and popular street art locations. So the main part is a quiet refuge and the best area to live away from the hustle and bustle of the Rio de Janeiro Center. You can get around the neighborhood by car, streetcar, or bus, but there are no subway stations. The cobblestone streets are quite winding and bumpy, but the scenery and privacy are worth it.

Santa Teresa Hotel RJ – MGallery

Rio de Janeiro's best neighborhoods for tourists and the hotels to stay in for beach activities, nightlife and extended stays
Rooms are reminiscent of a luxury mansion from the mid-1800s. Source: Image Santateresahotelrio.com

Santa Teresa attracts travelers with its 19th-century Portuguese architecture, much of it boutique hotel facades in restored Rio de Janeiro villas. The most famous among them is the Santa Teresa Hotel RJ – MGallery, occupying a luxurious mansion from the mid-1800s. The interior of the rooms emphasizes the belonging of this place to the times when there was a coffee plantation here. Inside, guests will find four-poster beds, shutters, and wooden floors.

Santa Teresa Hotel RJ - MGallery, as one of the best hotels in Rio de Janeiro, provides its guests with everything they need for a first-class stay: one of the best spas in the country, a large pool with loungers and couches, the famous French-Brazilian restaurant Tereze and the bar dos Descasados, popular for its craft cocktails with seasonal fruits.

The villas are lined with gardens of towering palm trees, creating the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. And when guests want more movement and people around, they can choose from an abundance of traditional Brazilian restaurants and boteco (authentic bars) within a couple minutes' walk of the hotel.

Chez Georges

One of the best hotels to stay at in Rio de Janeiro for a secluded getaway, Chez Georges is located on a hilltop between Copacabana and Ipanema beaches and the city center. The private villa on the edge of the forest, thanks to this location, offers its guests views of the city's rooftops, Guanabara Bay, and Sugar Loaf Mountain.

This residence, designed in 1974, is a space with beautiful concrete arches, glass walls, and wood accents. The interiors are a stunning blend of European and Brazilian modernism, combining bright colors, rich woods, and textures. Connoisseurs of unique designs will love this place: antiques and artwork can be found in every corner, and the furniture is worthy of a collector's attention. The villa consists of seven spacious suites, complete with private balconies. Each is named after a musician named George, from Seu Jorge to George Harrison. But the main attraction of the residence is the 50-foot outdoor pool on the terrace, surrounded by lush rainforest.

Vila Santa Teresa

A great option in which neighborhood to stay in to feel like a five-star hotel regular and enjoy the stunning views of Rio de Janeiro is the stunning Vila Santa Teresa mansion.

Created in the 70's in the middle of a bucolic plot, this exclusive house has seven suites with an original design driven by elegance and simplicity. There are no particular entertainment options nearby, so this is not a place for an active vacation, but rather for relaxed bliss. Breakfast is served by 11 am so guests can enjoy a good night's sleep on king-size beds, and there's a poolside area for a morning cup of coffee.

There is an excellent on-site restaurant, Beatrees, whose menu is inspired by the family recipes of the owners: the head of the family, Alberto, and his wife Beatrice purchased the estate in 1938. The name of the restaurant and bar pays tribute to this family history. You can enjoy dishes combining Brazilian and French cuisine in the dining room or on the beautiful terrace overlooking the garden and the city. To extend the enjoyment of a relaxing stay, guests can enjoy the spa with a full range of treatments, outdoor pool, and steam room.

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