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The insider guide: Rio de Janeiro
Sugar loaf cable car. :: A. Forbes
Copacabana Palace
Rio de Janiero has certainly undergone a renaissance as Brazil falls under the world’s spotlight, following the 2014 World Cup and now the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Yet some things are timeless, and Belmond’s Copacabana Palace is one such place. Even if your holiday budget doesn’t stretch to a room here, make time to visit this landmark property and enjoy a pre-dinner caipirinha in the Piano Bar and a meal at one of the acclaimed restaurants; ‘Capriani’ (Italian gastronomy) or the one star Michelin ‘Mee’ (Asian cuisine). This iconic property from the Art Deco era, faces the famous Copacabana Beach, where one can see not just the super-rich, but also residents of the disadvantaged ‘favelas’, and pretty much everyone in-between enjoying the beach culture of Rio. Close by are the equally interesting districts of Ipanema and Leblon.
As a guest expect exceptional service and perks, like an exclusive picnic at the foot of the Christ the Redeemer.
Hotel Santa Teresa
For a flavour of historic Rio, then a stay at the Hotel Santa Teresa is a must. The creative colonial neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, with its cobbled streets and bougainvillea clad houses is on-trend and offers superb views out across the bay and of the city; whilst the property maintains a tranquil atmosphere which is a welcome antidote to the energy of city life in Rio de Janeiro.
Award-winning Chef Pablo Ferreyra will take you on a journey through Brazilian cuisine – the restaurant’s flagship dish is’ baião de seis’.
Guest rooms are sophisticated and cosy; the Panoramic Loft Suite, which won ‘The Best Hotel Suite Design of the World’ has exceptional views out towards the Art Deco statue of Christ the Redeemer.
Museum of Tomorrow
With its striking architectural design by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, Rio’s newest museum provides a compelling reason to visit the city’s redeveloped port area. Unlike a traditional science museum, this extraordinary space is dedicated to sustainability, ecology and climate change; and the pressing need for us to take action. In a country that is home to part of the threatened Amazon Rainforest, the theme is certainly thought-provoking.
Nearby is The MAR (Rio’s Art Museum); one can buy a ticket that includes both institutions.
City Panoramic Views
When visiting Rio we all want to capture the ‘money-shot’; one of those stunning views over the city her famous beaches of Leme, Copacabana, Ipanema, Flamengo and Leblon. The easy way is probably to take the cable car up to the Sugarloaf Mountain; the train up Corcovado Mountain to the Christ the Redeemer; or a tourist flight in a helicopter; but the more challenging yet significantly more satisfying is to hike up one of the mountains behind the city. Always go with a professional guide.
Shop & Travel
My local insider in Brazil is Adriana Lage Toma, creator and author of the ‘Shop & Travel Guides’. Adriana’s dedicated content to her home country of Brazil is a rich resource for travellers.
Restaurant Oui Oui
This vintage mansion provides a welcoming environment for informal, delicious dining. Chef Roberta Ciasca has truly made an impact of the Rio dining scene and the menu here is a myriad of small plates so guests can build their own tasting menu in a relaxed and fun way.
Irajá Gastrô Restaurant
One of the joys of eating out in Brazil is the relaxed atmosphere. At Irajá Gastro, Chef Pedro de Artagão’s dishes retain strong Brazilian influences. The menu includes vegetarian dishes. Make sure you order a cocktail!
Che Boludo
The street food scene used to be all about tropical juices, and coconut milk by the beaches but now there’s a growing choice of morsels to go from food trucks and also neighbourhood eateries like Che Boludo, in Gávea which brings together Argentinian and Brazilian flavours with their excellent empanadas. Also, as a run up to the Olympics, Argentinian mixologist Tato Giovannoni is promising a ‘cocktail bus’- so look out for that on the streets of city!