Copacabana Palace's banquet room. (Sérgio Greiff)
Known as the Carnival capital of the world, this year's edition of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is expected to attract a whopping 6 million revelers over 492 city blocks. Meanwhile, the city, already a pulsing, heaving organism, is preparing to become the center of the world in 2014 when it hosts the World Cup, and in 2016, when it hosts the summer Olympics. As the world begins to descend on the city, here are a few of the top hotels and properties throughout Rio de Janeiro.
This year, the iconic Copacabana Palace celebrates its 90th anniversary with a $20 million facelift that included redesigned rooms, restaurants and the restoration of the hotel's original ceiling. Since opening its doors in 1923, the Art Deco hotel and Orient-Express property has become a landmark along Copacabana Beach and has hosted the likes of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, the Rolling Stones and Nelson Mandela. Its Hotel Cipriani Restaurant â€“ modeled after the luxury Venetian hotel -- is likewise a popular dining destination for its fine dining Italian fare.
Hotel Santa Teresa
What used to be a historical coffee plantation mansion is now an award-winning Relais & Chateaux boutique hotel that's been called one of the best hotels in the world, and the best hotel in South America. Designed to evoke its natural, tropical surroundings, the property is described as a thematic journey through ethnic Brazil, from the Xingu and Tupi Guarani Indians, to the country's Afro-Brazilian traditions and culture and the mystical art of Bahia. Design elements of the hotel include linens, wild cotton, coconut and banana tree fibers, tropical wood, and recycled materials. Every room also guarantees panoramic views of the city, the harbor or the bay of Rio.
Located in the heart of Ipanema Beach, Hotel Fasano is a five-star property that carries the mark of French designer Philippe Starck's contemporary, sophisticated style. As such, it's a also popular among the glitzy, impossibly leggy, modelesque, and deep-pocketed crowd. Rooms and suites feature hardwood floors, Starck's "Dali-esque ear-shaped mirrors" and king-size beds with 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets strategically placed to provide oceanfront views. Its signature infinity pool also overlooks the ocean.
Marina All Suites
As one of the youngest additions to Leblon Beach, Marina All Suites is a boutique hotel that offers ocean views and a collection of eight suites created by Brazilian designers, each of which evokes its own atmosphere, color palette and feel. The Opala suite, for instance, is light, fresh and airy thanks to its white walls, furniture and bed sheets accented with touches of apple greens and red. The aim? To create a homey, happy and relaxed atmosphere. The hotel has 38 rooms, as well as a fitness center, masseuse parlor, pool and sauna.
Cama e Café
Want a more intimate Brazilian experience? Try a bed and breakfast with Cama e Café which has the endorsement of travel guidebook Lonely Planet for being one of the best accommodation sites in Rio. Instead of staying in a generic hotel room, about 40 local hosts welcome guests into their homes and give them a richer, more authentic experience that includes a Brazilian breakfast.