copacabana palace belmond hotel seen from beach
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Belmond Copacabana Palace

Between the sea, sand and mountains, only one building is recognizable: a palatial grand hotel, the Copacabana Palace.

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Pool Lounge at Fasano Rio, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fasano Rio

This luxury hotel, opened in 2007, is the oceanfront offshoot of one of São Paulo’s most prestigious addresses. With eighty-nine rooms and suites, Fasano Rio has spectacular views of Ipanema Beach and one of the sexiest rooftop pools in South America.

A joint effort by Rojerio Fasano and Philippe Starck, the property features a design scheme that is contemporary-sleek with a funky twist. Accommodations are inherently masculine in feel, encapsulated in floor-to-ceiling dark wood with leather accent chairs and black-and-white photographs. Touches by Starck – a kidney-shaped mirror above the bed and two tree-stumps as side tables – add a bit of whimsy. Ocean-front accommodations above the fifth floor are highly recommended – the Fasano faces a noisy street – and include several deluxe rooms, seven suites and three open-plan deluxe suites with wrap-around terraces. A nice option for families or groups, the latter can be converted into mini apartments by adjoining a suite and superior room.

Amenities like Egyptian cotton linens and goose-down pillows, butler and limousine service, airport transfers and fully equipped workstations with broadband Internet bring 21st-century comfort to a late-’50s bossa-nova ambiance.

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Interiors at Hotel Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Hotel Santa Teresa

Opened in 2008, this property is located in a lovingly restored historic fazenda, or mansion, in the hip Santa Teresa neighborhood (akin to Brooklyn in New York). Set up a hill about twenty minutes inland from the beach, the Santa Teresa is a stylish enclave that offers a more intimate, boutique experience than that of the Fasano or Copacabana.

The forty-one hotel rooms showcase a gorgeous Brazilian contemporary design – the use of materials such as wild cotton, tropical wood, stone, and natural linens give the interiors an organic aesthetic. Each room showcases art pieces by a range of Brazilian designers, and is equipped with modern-day amenities such as LCD TVs and WIFI. Junior suites offer an adequate amount space, wooden four-poster beds and prime placement within the hotel for better views. The Loft Suite has a terrace with panoramic vistas over the city.

The Santa Teresa’s focus on food and wine is evident in the Térèze restaurant and bohemian bar/lounge. Where more attention should be paid is on service, which oftentimes is non-existent. The pool area is small and nothing special, but perfectly enjoyable with views of the city. The French owners are committed to sustainable tourism so are involved in a number of philanthropic community projects in Rio.

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Suite at  Mama Ruisa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Mama Ruisa

Santa Teresa is Rio’s Montmartre—a funky, colorful hillside neighborhood with fabulous views of central Rio, interesting bars and restaurants (including a local favorite, chef Ana Castilho’s Aprazível) and a lively community of artists and musicians. No wonder French-born owner Jean-Michel Ruis felt right at home here and turned a lovingly restored 19th-century bourgeois mansion into a seven-room bed and breakfast with 360-degree views of Guanabara Bay. A personalized airport transfer service can be arranged for a small fee. Rooms are basic, but each offers funky design elements and are large given the size of the property. A small courtyard and pool enjoys picturesque views of the city and ocean.

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