Take a room at a palace where Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles and Princess Diana all stayed.
HOTEL FASANO If sleek style and a location at the centre of everything top your list, the Fasano is the place for you.
Located right on glamorous Ipanema Beach, The Fasano has chic rooms and stunning suites but its crowning glory is the rooftop bar.
Take a dip in the pool or just sink into the cushions, order up a caipirinha and soak up the fabulous view over across to the Sugar Loaf. Before they moved into hotels, the Fasano family ran a celebrated dining empire, so the in-house restaurant, Fasano al Mare, is worth a visit.
Rooms from US$820 (NZD$993). See fasano.com.br.
HOTEL SANTA TERESA The boho neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, high in the hills, is a world away from Rio's beach scene.
Make yourself at home in this Relais & Chateaux hotel located in an elegant coffee planter's mansion. The elegant contemporary interiors are done in traditional materials such as wood, banana tree fibre and local slate.
If you can afford it, it's worth upgrading to one of the spacious suites. Don't feel like heading out to eat? The in-house restaurant is excellent and the Bar dos Descasados, with its red-and-white-tiled floor, is one of the area's favourite drinking spots.
Rooms from US$450 (NZD$540). See santa-teresa-hotel.com.
LA MAISON There are many adjectives to describe Rio, but "relaxing" is not one of them.
That's where La Maison comes in. In many ways, it's the antithesis of what you expect a Rio hotel to be. It's not on the beach, although its location in Gavea, just behind Ipanema, is within easy reach of the area's bars and restaurants.
It's not large - with just five rooms, it's more guesthouse than hotel, albeit a very stylish one. Surrounded by the toucan-filled Tijuca forest, with views across the city, it's a little oasis for those who like to feel like residents rather than tourists.
Rooms from 450 reals (NZD$234), breakfast included. See lamaisonario.com.
LA SUITE Call it La Maison by the sea. When the owners of La Maison opened their second property, they stayed small and stylish, but this time they chose a seaside location in a residential neighbourhood.
It's a trifle removed from the action but that's part of its charm. There's an inviting living room and a breakfast terrace with 180-degree views across the bay - on a clear day you can see the Corcovado - but La Suite's secret weapon is its inhouse chef. Ricardo Hiltz whips up superb modern Brazilian meals, so plan to stay in for dinner at least once.
Rooms from 880 reals (NZD$457), breakfast included. See lasuiterio.com.
COPACABANA PALACE Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles and Princess Diana have all stayed in this historic Belle Epoque palace which, against the odds, has managed to maintain its glamour.
The gleaming white marble interiors help set the mood, as does the old-school service (order toast, and it comes to your room with the crusts removed).
Many of the rooms are super-sized, and of course its beachside location is perfect for those who want to soak up some sun.
Beach loungers and towels are provided to guests but it can be tempting to skip the beach and hang by the glamorous pool instead. Rooms from 1170 reals (NZD$608). See copacabanapalace.com
OZTEL Oztel is not your average hostel. This stylish budget lodging has a number of private rooms in addition to the usual dormitories, and guests enjoy free Wi-Fi and breakfast, as well as a concierge service that helps you arrange everything from visits to samba schools to football games.
The strategic location means you are a short bus ride from both the beaches and the city centre. If you prefer hanging out closer to home, there's plenty to keep you occupied, from an on-site cocktail bar to regular in-house gigs.
Private rooms from 215 reals (NZD$112) including breakfast. See oztel.com.br
The writer travelled courtesy of LAN and The Classic Safari Company.
- FFX Aus
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