Usually, Centro appeals more to business travelers than to sun worshippers, who might find it frustrating to be so far from the glittering sands of Copacabana and Ipanema. However, staying in Centro gives you the advantage of proximity to Rio’s historic landmarks and many of its museums.
It’s well served by Metrô and bus, so you can get anywhere you want fast, and prices here are far less expensive than those in Zona Sul. On the downside, the place clears out at night and on weekends. Lack of action means it’s also not very safe, so be prepared to spend a lot on cab fare.
Hotel Belas Artes (Av. Visconde do Rio Branco 52, Centro, tel. 21/2252-6336, www.hotelbelasartes.com.br, R$78–87 d), in a handsome historic building in the heart of Centro, is a well-regarded hotel that offers simply furnished but spotless rooms with high ceilings and wooden floors—all for an unbeatable price.
Operated by the Windsor chain (which owns several handfuls of hotels in Rio), the Guanabara Palace (Av. Presidente Vargas 392, tel. 21/2195-6000, www.windsorhoteis.com, R$255–280 d) is Centro’s toniest accommodation option. While modern and comfortable—it’s a favorite with business execs—it won’t win any style awards. Lack of charm is compensated for by the rooftop pool and terrace featuring stunning 360-degree views of the city and Guanabara Bay.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition