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Where once the Copacabana Palace was the first and last word in luxury accommodation in Rio, the arrival of Rogerio Fasano’s first foray in the city right on the Ipanema beachfront (where else?) emphatically raised the bar. The famous Palace still delivers bygone glamour and facilities galore including a spectacular pool, but the Fasano and, more recently, the Emiliano both arrived from São Paulo with added contemporary cool to go with the undeniable luxury. These are the places to see and be seen, with exclusive rooftop pools, famous guests and sumptuous spas, all delivered with discreet but welcoming warmth. Here’s our pick of the best luxury hotels in Rio.

Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro

Fasano has single-handedly revolutionised the city’s hotel scene with its superior service and understated cool, making it the place to see and be seen. Elegant to the hilt, the signature dark-wood panelling makes the building as attractive from outside as in. Entry to the guest-only rooftop infinity pool is so sought-after that São Paulo’s high-flyers book rooms on weekends just to facilitate a Saturday afternoon’s lounging across the state border. The impressive suites have drawn the likes of many a celebrity, from Beckham to Beyoncé. Watching the sun set (or indeed rise) over Ipanema beach from your balcony is something magical.

Belmond Copacabana Palace

The dozens of black-and-white photos of Hollywood, rock ‘n’ roll and, indeed, genuine royalty that line the corridors of this gorgeous, neo-classical wedding cake of a hotel hint at the opulence that has been ingrained in it over the years. It very much maintains a classic rather than contemporary style, with vast chandeliers, copious amounts of marble and forests-worth of polished Brazilian wood. Service to the sunloungers on Copacabana Beach includes fresh fruits and coconut water, and the spa is a first-class retreat. Michelin-starred Mee, directed by Ken Hom, completes the picture, as do the stunning black pool and rooftop tennis court.

Hotel Emiliano

If you’re staying at Hotel Emiliano, opt for the sea view and be seduced by the views and sound of crashing of waves. Anyone looking to hit all the classic Rio high notes will find plenty to fawn over here at the southern tip of Copacabana beach. Pop on personalised flip-flops and head to the magnificent rooftop pool that L-shapes in front of the sun-loungers to deliver a stunning tropical refuge. You don’t even have to lift a finger here; friendly and informed staff are eager to please, and the on-call butler, room turn-downs and beach service add to the sense of luxury.

Santa Teresa Hotel RJ MGallery

This converted mansion, once part of a former coffee plantation, is deceptively large, its rustic features preserved and shot through with a dash of contemporary Brazilian style. Palm trees pepper the lush, green gardens and arc over the pool to conjure up a genuine tropical paradise. In keeping with the overall feel of the hotel, all rooms are casually elegant, the muted tones and reclaimed wooden furniture, including rustic four-poster beds in some rooms, creating a cosy feel. The hotel’s Térèze restaurant has collected a raft of awards for its Franco-Brazilian fusions, drawing customers from all over the city.

LSH Hotel
A grown-up hotel in Barra with enough pulling power to tempt visitors away from Ipanema. All rooms have ample balconies, with the lateral as well as front-facing options all getting a fine view of the rolling Atlantic. The glass-bottomed pool a playful reminder that the hotel has been conceived with Miami’s Delano in spirit – complete with Saturday night DJ sets – and exudes the showy Barra lifestyle. Beach service means complimentary towels, parasols, deckchairs and water await whenever you want to venture onto the sand.

Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro
From the strikingly minimal, contemporary lobby to the sandy tones and palm-lined pool, the designers have done their level best to reflect the city’s emblems and distinguish it from cookie-cutter chain hotels. Fantastically high ceilings, open spaces with ‘living’ walls of plants and homages to the great local landscaper Roberto Burle Marx show a genuine effort to interact with the region’s topography and bring the outdoors indoors. The basement spa is pure escapism, mercifully insulated from the joyous weekly samba classes held in the adjacent studio and the pumping limbs of the next-door, high-tech fitness suite.

Spotted in telegraph
Exclusive hotels in Brazil

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