Rio de Janeiro hotels
For years, hotels in Rio de Janeiro abided by one immutable rule—that tourists cared more about location than quality. The result was a slew of dingy towers along the beach in Copacabana and Ipanema that offered few amenities and indifferent service. The dinosaurs still predominate, but happily, they no longer represent a monopoly. The most feted breakthrough came with the unveiling of the Hotel Fasano, which set a new standard for upscale, design-minded hotels in Rio. There have been other encouraging signs: Urban regeneration programs have turned once-neglected Botafogo into an up-and-coming backpacker enclave, and leafy Gávea and Cosme Velho are now home to a number of boutique hotels. In artists' quarter Santa Teresa, meanwhile, half a dozen mansions, most with verdant gardens and unparalleled views of the Sugarloaf, Mount Corcovado, and Guanabara Bay, now operate as style-minded hotels or B&Bs for those who don't care about being oceanside. One or two guesthouses have even opened in Rio's infamous favela slums. For sure, Rio's hotel scene remains in transition, and it's likely to take several more years before the city wholly sheds its reputation for poor value, but the trends are encouraging.
A note of warning: All hotels in Rio, and the rest of the country, double or even triple their rates over Carnaval and New Year's; most also insist on multiday minimum stays. You might find better deals by looking for vacation packages that bundle hotels with airfare. Apartment rentals are also an excellent and surprisingly affordable option, any time of year: Try Rio Flat Rental or Rio Apartments. Regardless, if you visit over these peak periods, be aware that lodging is likely to be your chief expense.