Hotel Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana
By Paul Clemence
A good hotel offers not only comfort but also is able to transport you to another world. That’s the case with the Hotel Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana, located at the tip of sprawling Copacabana Beach and the first outpost of the group in South America. The property has had a few incarnations prior to undergoing a major retrofit by Brazilian architect Patricia Anastassiadis, who upgraded it and giving it a contemporary flair. Anastassiadis, known for hotel designs all over the word, drew inspiration from the hotel’s surrounding, as if bringing Copacabana and the best of Rio inside.
From the layout of the marbled floor entrance (inspired on the famous sidewalks just outside) to the interior’s plants selections, they blur the lines between being in and out. The interiors have a sophisticated yet relaxed elegance, featuring beautiful Brazilian furniture by both iconic Mid-Century designers and contemporary ones. Unpretentious and somehow intimate, the design leaves us feeling we are at a cool friend’s designer house rather than a hotel lobby or guest room.
From the beginning, this connection with the city was an important element not just for the design concept but also the hospitality approach. The hotel’s priority from the get-go was to cater not just to out-of-town travelers but also establish a welcoming rapport with the “cariocas” (as people from Rio are known) community, creating in the process a hotel with a real sense of place beyond just lodging.
Thus, the restaurant’s kitchen is supplied with freshest catches from the fishing colony fishing colony located literally across the street from the hotel. Paddle board and beach tennis lessons can be had at the beach, pool side yoga sessions are attended by the neighboring Zen-seeking acolytes, gastronomy master classes are open to anyone with epicurean predilections, and the poolside evening music concerts are a big hit with both locals and guests alike.
On that musical note, the hotel has even partnered with the Montreux Jazz Festival to host its international edition in 2020. Due to the lockdown restrictions, the concerts were held in the pool area (against the backdrop of Copacabana Beach) and broadcast worldwide. Attesting to the hotel’s diversity, one of their most recent initiatives was an Ocean Boat Regatta, partnering with a local sailing club.
That concept of hospitality as an amenity for locals and not just visiting guests turned out to be quite timely, since the hotel opened just a few months before the whole world went into lockdown and travel came to a halt. They had to get creative in order to survive.
Exquisite yellow potato mousseline, Brazilian design art pieces, and the smooth sounds of live Bossa Nova aside, without a doubt the hotel’s top attraction is its magnificent views. Whether from your room, the Marine Restô restaurant, the Spirit Copa bar, and even the conference rooms, one has the most stunning views of that masterpiece of Nature – the sprawling waters of the Atlantic Ocean framed by the iconic Sugar Loaf! From early sunrise (highly recommended) to evening, it’s a view that never tires and, of course being that it is Rio, seduces.
Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer and writer exploring the cross-section of design, art and architecture. A published author, his volume Mies van der Rohe’s FARNSWORTH HOUSE remains to this day the most complete photo documentation of that iconic modern residential design, and a selection of these photos is part of the Mies van der Rohe Archives housed by MoMa, New York. He is widely published in arts, architecture and lifestyle magazines like Metropolis, ArchDaily, Architizer, Modern, Casa Vogue Brasil and others. Archi-Photo, aka Architecture Photography, his Facebook photo blog quickly became a photography and architecture community, with over 970,000 followers worldwide. An architect by training, Clemence is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.