Brazil is a country blessed with outstanding natural beauty, some of the biggest sights in the world and has a superb array of luxury hotels to complement. It can be argued that many of the best hotels in the country are in Sao Paulo, the economic and cultural hub of Brazil, and certainly there were a few in the city which I couldn’t include such as the Emiliano, a favourite for business travellers. Rio de Janeiro too has some wonderful hotels with new properties due to open in the run up to the Olympics.
As a country so closely associated with beach life there are of course many amazing beach hotels and there are a number of high quality luxury hotels which just missed our top ten such as Casa Turquesa in Paraty, Villas de Trancoso in Trancoso, Nannai Resort in Porto de Galinhas, Quinta do Bucanero in Praia do Rosa or Kenoa Resort near Maceio to mention just a few.
Likewise some of the best hotels to experience Brazil’s big natural sights are missing like the Hotel Das Cataratas at Iguassu Falls, Caiman Ecological Refuge in the Pantanal or Anavilhanas Lodge in the Amazon but we’ll save those for another post. Therefore reducing this list to a top 10 wasn’t easy but here’s our selection. Enjoy.
1. Copacabana Palace
The most famous hotel in South America and an iconic sight in Brazil which has been home to anyone who’s anyone in the world of showbiz, government and royalty over the last century. The hotel was opened in 1923 and immediately became an architectural landmark, designed by the French architect Joseph Gire, who took his inspiration from the Hotel Carlton in Cannes and the Hotel Negresco in Nice. Prior to the 2014 World Cup, the Copacabana Palace underwent extensive refurbishments to ensure its position as South America’s premiere hotel. The hotel is also one of Rio’s top dining experiences with three restaurants available for the guests, The Pérgula, situated by the pool which is great for celebrity spotting, the fine Asian food at Mee is the creation of legendary chef Ken Hom where you can discover the most sophisticated pan-Asian cuisine in Rio, and the famous Cipriani restaurant which serves up a selection of Italian cuisine. At the latter of these you are also able to have a real treat and dine at the Chefs Table inside the kitchen for a very personal dining experience with private sommelier, waiter and the personal attention of Chef Luca Orini.
2. Fasano Rio
The pretender to the crown of the Copacabana Palace, the Fasano is the hotel of choice of many young celebrities looking for luxury in Rio. It’s uber cool and super trendy. The hotel has a priviledged location opposite the fashionable Posto 8 on Ipanema Beach which is the place to be seen on the sand in Rio. The hotel was designed by celebrated designer by Phillipe Starck and is a place where luxury abounds, illustrated from the white goose down pillows to the amazing rooftop infinity pool looking out to the ocean. To satisfy a demanding clientele all the rooms possess private balconies, separated by mirror screens making privacy and discretion a hallmark of the property. The Fasano family made their name with their restaurants and so it is unsurprising that the Al Mare restaurant is one of the best dining experiences in Rio with a menu focusing on a Mediterranean style seafood cuisine whilst the Baretto-Londra lounge offers award-winning signature cocktails and is one of Rio’s ‘places to be seen’.
3. Fasano Sao Paulo
The Hotel Fasano in Sao Paulo set the standard for all other luxury hotels in Brazil to follow and still today, many years after it first opened, not much has changed. The designers of the Hotel Fasano have crafted a distinctly elegant 1930s throwback style ambience where modern meets the richness of classic designs. Such work can be seen in the façade bricks, imported from England, and the lobby’s marble beams from Rome and the style of the hotel is felt immediately on entrance; sophisticated design, dark woods and stylish leather seats. The hotel is located on a quiet road that runs parallel with the shopping delights offered on Rua Oscar Freire between the business centres of Paulista and Faria Lima Avenues neighbouring renowned brands such as Armani, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany, Bulgari, Versace, Cartier and Dior just to mention a few. The Fasano restaurant is regularly considered the best Italian restaurant in South America and a place to be seen in a stylish design which is typical of the Fasano name whilst the fabulous Bar Baretto, an intimate live music and jazz bar, regularly hosts top performers.
The Hotel Unique in Sao Paulo is one of the most distinctive in the world due to its design. This fabulous boat shaped property is a real eye-catcher and located opposite the city’s Ibirapuera Park in the upmarket area of Jardins. The hotel Unique is a destination where art, architecture, design, fashion, music, gastronomy and exquisite service are at the heart of a groundbreaking hotel culture. The hotel has a mix of rooms and suites with the rooms offering contemporary and elegant décor, high-technology amenities and maximum comfort furnished with Brazilian hardwood floors, and oversized, round windows which mimic portholes on a ship and allow for natural light to flood in. The suites also incorporate the curve of the building with “infinity floors” that gently slope into the walls, providing architectural drama. The Hotel Unique also boasts the best views of the city skyline and on the roof you can find Skye, an area which contains a crimson red pool with an underwater sound system, lounge area and bar with stunning vistas over Ibirapuera Park and the entire São Paulo skyline. It’s the place to go if you want to be seen.
Located Buzios, the Insolito Boutique Hotel is pick of the top hotels in this sophisticated town and in 2012 was voted as the Best Beach Hotel in South America at the World Travel Awards. Insolitos is located on Ferradura beach, one of the best in Buzios, and was designed to perfectly integrate with its natural surroundings. Its owner has lovingly created the unique themes which vary throughout the hotel. Brazilian legends combined with the use of local arts and crafts have wonderfully created 20 individually styled and welcoming rooms most of which feature Brazilian modern art or photography, all personally chosen by the owner. All rooms come with panoramic views of the ocean and some include a veranda with whirlpool. The hotel features two pools, a dry sauna, a steam sauna, plus jacuzzi and an Ofurô. The hotel has two speedboats for guests to use and explore the surrounding waters for watersports, fishing or picnics whilst the trendy beach lounge and restaurant is the place to be wined and dined featuring a fabulous Franco-Brazilian menu.
6. Ponta dos Ganchos
Ponta dos Ganchos Resort is a small but special hotel. It’s situated next to a traditional fishing village overlooking stunning, forested coastline just north of Florianopolis on a privately-owned peninsula, surrounded by the exuberant Emerald Coast. The hotel is regarded as one of the most exclusive beach resorts in Brazil, and it regularly wins the title of the best beach hotel in South America. The hotel is exclusively for adults and a major honeymoon destination for those looking for romance and luxury. Ponta dos Ganchos is part of the Leading Hotels of the World group which act as a seal of testament to its impeccable facilities. The hotel has 25 sophisticated bungalows set in amazingly lush vegetation by the rainforest creating a dazzling display of light and colour. Ponta dos Ganchos is the perfect place to relax offering a cinema, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, bar, restaurant, oceanfront tennis court, Spa, Massage gazebos, heated swimming pool and some wonderful nature trails to follow. In addition there are numerous water-borne activities which can be enjoyed close the resort with boat trips out to see dolphins, excellent scuba diving and close to the best area in Brazil for whale-watching.
7. Txai Resort
The Txai Resort is located in southern Bahia, close to the town of Itacare on the beautiful Itacarezinho Beach on the Coconut Coast. The boutique resort is a beach paradise which combines an eco-friendly style with style and luxury comforts. There are 38 individual private bungalows which are scattered throughout a coconut grove which overlook the ocean and creates a tropical paradise. If you are looking for a luxury family getaway then the resort has 3 villas for larger groups or families and these properties consist of 4 separate suites plus a kitchen, living and dining areas as well as containing their own barbecue area and swimming pool. Bahia is famous for its cuisine and seafood features heavily on the menu of the excellent restaurant. The hotel places a heavy emphasis on eco-tourism and the resort offers some wonderful trips to nearby attractions which include rafting, surfing, horse riding, bird watching and trips to local waterfalls. For those who are simply looking to laze and relax then the resort offers massage services, a health centre, a relaxation room and three swimming pools. The big skies make for a special way to end your day as stargazing from your bungalow has to be one of the most special things to do at this stunning resort.
8. UXUA Casa
UXUA Casa is a special place to stay. So much so that the hotel website Mr and Mrs Smith declared the hotel in 2014 as the best in the world. It’s quite a claim but having stayed there I can perfectly see why. Situated next to the famous Quadrado the hotels has 10 exclusive residences (casas), each with their own unique design. The casas vary in size and are perfect for honeymooners or families. This really is the place to be seen on holiday in Trancoso. UXUA Casa translates as ‘Marvellous House’ and is the creation of renowned designer Wilbert Das, formerly of the Diesel clothing label, who is regularly seen in the hotel and very engaging with guests. All of the 10 casas are carefully styled with art from the Trancoso area and set in stunning natural surroundings. Our particular favourite is the Casa da Arvore, the tree house, which is a favourite for honeymooners. All ten casas include large comfortable beds, indoor and outdoor living areas, flatscreen TV, air-conditioning and wifi. The pool located next the restaurant was designed to have lake-like quality, built incorporating beautiful green aventurine stone, which the locals consider that they have therapeutic power, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress. The restaurant is one of the best in Trancoso and can host cookery classes too whereas a short stroll to the beach will take you to the fabulous beach bar in the form of a semi-sunken boat in the sand serving great seafood and caipirinhas which are far too easy to drink.
9. Pousada Maravilha
Fernando de Noronha tops the travel bucket list of many Brazilians, an archipelago of 21 islands a 60 minute flight from the mainland off the north-east coast and one of the most incredible destinations on earth. World class diving and secluded beaches are the main attractions here including the Baia do Sancho beach, voted best beach in the world for the last 2 years by TripAdvisor. The Pousada Maravilha is the most exclusive hotel on Fernando de Noronha combining stylish sophistication with natural resources to produce a truly wonderful luxury hotel. Located on the south-east of the island the hotel is a five star luxurious resort built with ecology in mind. The hotel offers two types of accommodation options: five bungalows for couples and three luxury apartments which can hold up to four people. All bungalows have an ocean view, complete with a hot tub on the balcony and a hammock on the veranda, it’s an incredible place to relax in this paradise location. All of the apartments contain the same comforts of the bungalows but are without a hot tub. The pool area (pictured) has wonderful views of this idyllic paradise and the pousada offers endless leisure options for those looking for more than just relaxation.
10. Zorah Beach
The Zorah Beach Hotel is a relatively new hotel on the luxury travel scene in Brazil but doesn’t disappoint. Located on Brazil’s north shore in the small town of Guajiru, roughly 2 hours from Fortaleza, the hotel offers the perfect slice of paradise on a beach which is deserted save for a few kitesurfers. Such a tropical beachfront in Brazil is perhaps the last place you may expect to find an Asian-themed luxury hideaway, however this is how Zorah Beach Hotel has been designed and the look is perfect. The hotel offers its clientele a choice of 22 different luxury accommodations which range from spacious Suites to roomy Bungalows as well as an exclusive waterfront Villa. All rooms and the villa boast Super King size beds, flat-screen TVs and L’Occitane amenities. The Asian influence at Zorah Beach Hotel also extends to the restaurant, where a unique slant on Asian cuisine crafted from the finest local ingredients is delivered. For something a little less formal, Zorah’s Beach Bar offers a-la-carte drinks and seafood in a poolside setting, perfect for unwinding. If languid relaxation is the order of the day at Zorah Beach Hotel then the large outdoor swimming pool presents the perfect forum whilst for those more active then Guariju is considered as one of the world’s leading kitesurfing destinations and the hotel can arrange lessons and board hire.
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Credit: Simon Williams who is Director of Bespoke Brazil.
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