Sofitel Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
BACKSTORY: If you’re looking for a great, comfortable and quiet room with a terrific view of the half-moon shaped Copacabana beach and Guanabara Bay, you probably want to stay at the Sofitel Rio de Janeiro. Back in the 1980’s, Frank Sinatra opened the then-new hotel when it was called the Rio Palace. I remember it from the late 80’s but in truth, it looks much better now, thanks to a remodel by Sofitel. It has a vast lobby that opens onto the Avenida Atlantica and the fabled beach lies across the street. The staff is exceptionally efficient, the decor vaguely reminiscent of French Deco (but all new, of course), and there are two pools and a gym. But staring at the view, caiparinha in hand, is considered sport in this city.
THE ROOMS: Dark fabrics, dark woods, marble baths and sliders that open onto a balcony, affording a panoramic view of Copacabana beach and the sun-inspired chaos it can foster. But in the mornings, as the sun rises over the bay (you can ask the front desk to awaken you "at sunrise,") it’s peaceful, still and magnificent. And if you’ve come all this way to experience the beaches of Rio, you want a room with a view like this.
MORE REASONS TO STAY: Sofitel’s "My Beds" are indeed exceptionally comfortable. There’s a flat screen TV, broadband access, a huge shower with rainfall shower head, ample storage, and a desk where you can actually work, should you have to.
INSIDER TIP: The panoramic view of Copacabana Beach from Le Pre Catalan, an elegant aerie in the hotel, is a fitting match for the cuisine of French chef Roland Villard, one of Rio’s best formal chefs. The menu changes constantly but on a recent visit, he was presenting an Amazon tasting menu, with dishes like Tucunare fish brandade with coconut milk.
THE DEAL: The rates for an ocean view double run about $366 per night. Not inexpensive, but on the other hand, you will remember this view for the rest of your life. Rio’s other deluxe hotels, such as the Caesar Park, Fasano and Copacabana Palace, charge considerably more.
CAVEAT: It’s a large hotel, with 388 rooms, and you will run into groups in this hotel. It’s not a boutique. And the breakfast buffet, which is an extra $27, can be a little busy.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION: You’re at the edge of Copacabana beach, overlooking the fort at Aproador. A five minute walk brings you to the beginning of Ipanema beach.
THE DETAILS: Sofitel Rio de Janeiro, Av Atlantica 4240, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; + (55) 21-2525-1232