Belmond Copacabana Palace
The Copacabana Palace hotel is an icon of this fabled city of spectacular beaches surrounded by lush tropical mountains. The "Copa" is the most famous hotel in Rio de Janeiro, and for traditionalists, it is the best. Those expecting world-class service and impeccable standards of maintenance and cuisine will not be disappointed.
This opulent beach palace designed by the architect of the Negresco in Nice dates from 1923. One cannot miss this hotel, as it is the only one with a grand, carved white-marble facade, making it the matriarch of Copacabana. Its conscientious renovations continue their slow but steady pace.
Guests check in at a small reception area and proceed directly to high-ceilinged salons that are elegant in the manner expected of the era in which the hotel was built. Frosted glass shimmers, pale colors calm, wainscoting and inlaid woods glow, and huge bouquets dazzle. The long hallway features glassed-in displays of the hotel's boutiques and leads to the pool, restaurant and other public areas.
In Cipriani, the intimate formal restaurant in the annex on the far side of the courtyard, the Venetian chef turns out excellent Italian fare. This is known as the most delectable Italian restaurant in town attracting hordes of locals and other visitors vying for a reservation. Across, a handsome bar is adorned with a grand chandelier. This is where you should definitely have a caipirinha, the national cocktail of Brazil. Off the lobby, an informal garden-style room and terrace feature linen-topped tables and chairs that cut a path between the mosaic sidewalks and the huge fountained pool. A wall of French windows provides views of the busy street.
Tables close to the pool are preferable, and breakfast buffets are offered here. During the rest of the day, Brazilian and international buffets are prepared with exacting standards, and the prices are designed to match. The tearoom is a chandeliered space with soaring windows, draped tables and marble inlay.
The pool, trimmed with a narrow deck, is the biggest and for sure the most glam plunge in Rio. It is in a conspicuous location in between the older and newer buildings offering little privacy to guests who may be shy about exposing there partially naked body to the world. Body watching may be observed with a bit more discretion at the “Copa” but make no mistake, this is still Rio.
The rooftop tennis court is the only aerial court in Rio, and a sauna and health club await as well. A refreshing spa provides a unique addition to this Rio favorite where early arrivals can make themselves at home. Massage and beauty treatments abound featuring local ingredients and worldly techniques.
Guest quarters are in the main building and newer all-suites are in the annex. Staying in the annex suites almost feels like your own apartment. Pool view suites in the annex are the ones to have as the others face the city but have no views. The traditional main building units display a classic 1950s look in cocoa-brown furnishings, cabriole-leg armchairs, desks, pedestal tables and padded headboards. Here again the city view rooms are the least preferred with pool and ocean view rooms being higher priced but definitely more coveted.
Oriental rugs top hardwood floors in the most expensive waterfront units, which have been revived with the most recent enhancements. High-speed Internet access, flat-screen TVs, DVD players, minibars and safes are in place throughout. The large marble baths have hair dryers.
To recap, standard rooms lack water views and face the city, superiors face the pool, and deluxe rooms scan the ocean. Premium rooms on floor 5 fetch the highest rates. Guests in these rooms benefit from four fabulous mini-offices with free Internet access, as well as Continental breakfast, cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. Some rooms have TVs hidden at the foot of the bed visible only after the touch of a button. On all floors, rooms in the -04 series are largest. Suites, also priced according to exposure, come with upholstered armchairs, 1930s mahogany writing tables, dressers and ample combination baths. Some units are fitted for guests with disabilities, and room service runs round the clock.
Although there are newer hotels in Rio and the area of Ipanema is more fashionable the Copacabana Palace Hotel still remains the most distinguished address in Rio. Certainly those infatuated with the Rio of the 1930s, '40s and '50s should stay nowhere else.
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