Ipanema and Leblon
To stay cheaply in Ipanema, hostels are the only way to go. Fortunately, there are several fairly nice options available. Hostel Harmonia (Rua Barão da Torre 175, Casa 18, Ipanema, tel. 21/2423-4905, www.hostelharmonia.com, R$45 pp) offers clean but basic hostel accommodations in a restored villa with dorm and double rooms.
Equally simple, but much smaller, is its neighbor, Casa 6 Ipanema (Rua Barão da Torre 175, Casa 6, Ipanema, tel. 21/2247-1384, www.casa6ipanema.com, R$40 pp, R$120 d). In fact, it only has two dormitory rooms and a double. However, its very size and a welcoming atmosphere conspire to make guests feel at home. Both of these hostels are located on a tranquil and leafy side street.
At the Adventure Hostel (Rua Vinícius de Moraes 174, Ipanema, tel. 21/3813-2726, www.adventurehostel.com.br, R$50–60 pp, R$130–160 d), bunking accommodations are spotless, if spartan, but the common rooms are cheery and welcoming. The hostel offers a fantastic range of services, including airport and bus station pickups, bike and surfboard rentals, and the organization of urban “adventures” ranging from paragliding to favela tours.
In terms of low price and great location, it’s hard to beat the Vermont Hotel (Rua Viconde de Pirajá 254, Ipanema, tel. 21/2522-0055, R$140–185 d), situated on Ipanema’s bustling main shopping drag. However, you get what you pay for: Rooms are somewhat cramped and noisy, and the decor is not what one would call uplifting.
A good-value pick is the unassuming Ipanema Inn (Rua Maria Quiteria 27, Ipanema, tel. 21/2523-6093, R$170–250). It has a terrific location only half a block from the beach, yet that half-block difference makes a world of difference in terms of price. The spotless rooms, with nice wooden accents, are bright and modern, and service is good.
The Arpoador Inn (Rua Francisco Otaviano 177, Ipanema, tel. 21/2523-0060, R$175–230 d) is not only the most affordable beachfront hotel in Ipanema, but it is also within spitting distance of Copacabana. Actually, it looks onto Praia do Arpoador, whose giant waves make this stretch of beach a surfers’ mecca. The rooms themselves are functional, if a little torn and frayed around the edges (especially the cheaper standard ones, which are a little on the sad side). If you want a sea view, you’ll have to pay a lot extra (R$350) for it.
Luxury accommodations are much easier to come by in Ipanema and Leblon than budget options. Straddling both neighborhoods, the Hotel Praia Ipanema (Av. Vieira Souto 706, Ipanema, tel. 21/2141-4949, www.praiaipanema.com, R$500–540 d) allows you to live it up in posh Zona Sul style without maxing out your credit card. Tastefully minimalist rooms all have private balconies with sea views (which increase in magnificence the higher up the room), as does the rooftop pool. There is also a spa.
Owned by the Dutch chain Golden Tulip, the Ipanema Plaza (Rua Farme de Amoedo 34, Ipanema, tel. 21/3687-2000, www.ipanemaplazahotel.com, R$405–550 d) is sleek with just the right level of sophistication. Its spacious rooms are awash in neutral tones with blond wood furnishings. Really chic—and not much more expensive—are the boutique-style master suites on the newly inaugurated “Ipanema floor”—trappings include Italian-designed furniture, fine linens, and Jacuzzis. The rooftop pool and bar offers views of the beach and Corcovado that will mesmerize by day or night. The hotel has a notoriously gay-friendly reputation.
Caesar Park (Av. Vieira Souto 460, Ipanema, tel. 21/2525-2525, www.caesarpark-rio.com, R$820–1,110) is a tried-and-true luxury favorite of celebrities, dignitaries, and Madonna, none of whom can resist the topnotch service, multiple amenities (including a great health club), and a coveted location right across the street from the beach. Captains of industry swear by its state-of-the-art business center and the executive lunches served in its acclaimed contemporary restaurant, Galani—on Saturday, one of the city’s most sought-after feijoadas is served. Only deluxe rooms offer views of the beach, but once you’re out on the sands, you’ll be duly pampered (with towels, lounge chairs, fresh fruit and drinks) and protected (by the hotel lifeguards and security staff).
Caesar Park’s hold on the front line of Ipanema’s luxury hotel market came to an end in August 2007 with the much-awaited opening of the Fasano Rio Hotel (Av. Vieira Souto 80, Ipanema, tel. 21/3202-4000, www.fasano.com.br, R$945–1,020 d). For their Carioca debut, the Fasano family—which owns some of São Paulo’s most celebrated high-class hotels and restaurants—procured the talents of French design guru Philippe Starck. Working with a team of local Brazilian artists, Starck’s design references the glamor of 1950s Rio, when the city was a favored port of call for the international jet set. Retro furnishings merge with lots of glass, wood, and marble, not to mention the blue Atlantic, which is prominently on display from the sumptuous rooms as well as the rooftop pool, fitness center, spa, and restaurant, Al Mare.
Ruling the luxury roost of Leblon is Rio’s “other” boutique hotel: the Marina All-Suites (Av. Delfim Moreira 696, Leblon, tel. 21/2172-1100, www.marinaallsuites.com.br, R$695–1,108 d). It’s less cool and sleek than the Fasano; the designers dared to inject some color into the decorative equation. The result is top-of-the-line comfort that is elegant but home-like, which is probably why homegirl Gisele Bündchen and recent Brazilian transplant Calvin Klein are both devoted guests (Gisele prefers the Diamante suite). Other model types can be seen hanging around the penthouse pool, taking in a film at the in-house movie theater, or downing caipirinhas at the Bar d’Hotel.
© Michael Sommers from Moon Brazil, 2nd Edition