If you’re coming to Rio for a holiday, finding a place to stay can be tricky. If you want something cheap then you’ll probably start looking on the various hostel search websites and soon you’ll discover that “cheap” is a relative term! A bed in a dorm in Ipanema will set you back around R$50 (US$25) per night.
Further up the pecking order you’ll find pousadas (guest houses). These vary enormously, from basic to boutique. There are some real gems out there so if you’re looking for something with personality, this would be my recommendation. I’m no expert on accommodation in Rio (I live here!), but there is one pousada I can definitely recommend because it’s where Mrs Eat Rio and I got married!
When we get to the hotels, I start to run out of ideas. A few of my friends have stayed in ‘business’ hotels in Ipanema and Leblon and found them to be bland and really expensive. One hotel however, stands in a class of its own.
In terms of history and prestige, this place is the ultimate! Built during Rio’s 1920s heyday, the beautiful Art Deco building once dominated views of Copacabana beach and was visited by foreign dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, various US Presidents and also Hollywood royalty, from Errol Flynn and Clarke Gable to Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
You might think that it’s a modern phenomenon that hotels are banning celebrities for their outrageous antics, but way back in 1939, Errol Flynn decided to dance naked through the main hall and just 3 years after that, Orson Welles carried out the first recorded celebrity hotel room trashing by chucking all his furniture out of the window and into the pool below!
Despite its ugly neighbours, Copacabana Palace still retains its regal charm and continues to attract the rich and famous. It was very nearly demolished in the 1980s but was thankfully saved at the last minute and is now a protected building.
Of course not everyone can afford the Copacabana Palace (I know I can’t!). If you really want to save money then one final accommodation option I haven’t mentioned yet is couch surfing. Staying for free on a stranger’s sofa sounds great to some people and absolutely terrifying to others! I guess it’s not for everyone, but I’ve met a lot of people who say that it’s not only a great way to save money but also a brilliant way to meet locals and break away from the tourist trail.
With the steady stream of visitors I have visiting me here in Rio (I was never this popular when I lived in London!), I don’t always have room for everyone, so I thought it would be useful to start building up a list of recommended places. Do you have any personal recommendations for places to stay in Rio?