Global economic downturn, be darned. There are times when you just feel like throwing caution to the wind and blowing the travel budget with a real “treat yourself” experience.
And, in super-glamorous Rio de Janeiro, there’s no shortage of opportunity to splash some serious cash in the name of enjoyment. But while many super-expensive Rio hotels, bars, and restaurants are worth the extra cash, others are not worth the money (or the lecture from the bank manager on your return). To help you spend that hard-earned money in the most rewarding way possible, here’s our rundown of the Top 10 places in Rio to blow the budget.
1.Fasano Rio. If you’re looking for a super-sophisticated base during your vacation in Rio de Janeiro, you can’t beat this sleek, Phillipe Starke-designed hotel right in front of Ipanema beach. The understated exterior masks a wealth of luxurious touches inside, and the crowning glory is the rooftop plunge pool, where you can lounge with the beautiful people while enjoying a cocktail from the bar and taking in spectacular views.
2. Copacabana Palace. It may come second to Fasano Rio in the glamour stakes, but this most legendary of hotels is an enduring beauty, and continues to attract stars of such A-list calibre as Will Smith and Madonna. Book a room with a sea view for the ultimate experience, and don’t forget to dine at the elegant Italian restaurant, Cipriani.
3.Bum Bum. To get the Rio beach look, head to this famous beachwear store, where the teeny tiny bikinis and trunks are perfect for showing off toned and tanned limbs.
4.Sao Conrado Fashion Mall. If itsty-bitsy swimwear isn’t for you, don’t fear – there are plenty of other, less daunting, opportunities for retail therapy in Rio. Many designer stores and boutiques can be found here, in a neighborhood that is home to some of the most expensive apartments anywhere in South America.
5.Hotel Santa Teresa. British singer Amy Winehouse recently made this hilltop hotel her base during a tour of Brazil, and the leafy location and stunning views make this a great alternative to the beachfront, at a fraction of the price. Non-guests can dine at the French restaurant, Tereze, or enjoy some pampering at the spa.
6. Olympe. Continually topping “best restaurant in Rio” polls, this sophisticated spot sees renowned chef Claude Troisgros head up a kitchen serving immaculately-prepared French dishes. Book in advance.
7. Fasano Al Mar. The Italian restaurant at Hotel Fasano Rio is another of the city’s culinary high points, serving delicious Italian dishes with a particular accent on seafood. The restaurant makes an excellent setting for a romantic dinner, as diners can request to have their table sectioned off by pristine white linen curtains. You’ll need to make any such request in advance, of course.
8. Marina All Suites. If you like your luxury hotel accommodation to come with a little added kookiness, make like supermodel Gisele and book a suite at this chic Leblon hotel. With a private cinema and bar (book in advance to secure these), and super-attentive staff, it’s an enduring favourite with celebs.
9. Bar d’Hotel. You don’t need to be a guest at Hotel Marina All Suites to enjoy a drink and a bite to eat at the hotel’s celebrated bar. Sophisticated nibbles and indulgent cocktails are part of the appeal here, as are the fabulously beautiful people who frequent the place.
10. Aprazivel. A little more affordable than many top Rio restaurants, Aprazivel is some way off the beaten track on a Santa Teresa hilltop. Book a table outside on a clear night to enjoy spectacular city views as you dine on excellent French-Brazilian dishes.