Once I got my visa, I was left to grapple with my other Rio dilemma. Where to stay?
Rio has hotels but not too many chain hotels. Sure, I could have booked a local hotel, but would it be ok??? Not to mention, Rio is a large city. Where in the city should we stay?
Fortunately, I had some assistance. A friend of a friend who actually lives in Rio was nice enough to give me suggestions. She recommended staying in Ipanema, Leblon or the world famous Copacabana.
I noticed that there was a Sheraton in Rio. Ah. A beloved starwood property. I was torn. Stay there and get more points, yet risk not being in an ideal location?
One of the Delta stewardesses raved about the Sheraton. According to her, it has two largish pools and is located on a nice stretch of the beach. The bad thing is that the Sheraton is located in an area that requires that you take a cab to get to the cool areas of Rio. We opted to stay at a different hotel. Interestingly, I had a friend who stayed. He reported pretty much the same as the stewardess.
If you want to splurge, I'd say that Hotel Fasano is for you. It does not look like much in the below picture (it was taken on a rainy day), but trust me, it looked nice. This hotel is located directly across the street from Ipanema beach near the rocks known as Arpoador and is a short walk to Copacabana beach. I am told that it had a very large swimming pool and this is where Fergie and Lady Gaga stayed when visiting Rio.
I looked into staying at the Fasano and it cost around $600 a night. I could not justify the price tag. Instead we stayed at another hotel on Ipanema, more centrally located. The Best Western Sol Ipanema.
I know what you are thinking. A best western? me? Let me tell you what it offered for the low low price of $300+ per night.
* Free wifi. One device.
* Free breakfast.
* Beach service. Meaning that the hotel will let you borrow beach chairs, umbrellas, and towels to bring the beach.
The hotel was located just across the street from the ocean and posto number 9. Posto number 9 is rumored to be the area of the beach where all the beautiful people hang out.
Behind the hotel was the bar where the songwriters sat and watched a young attractive girl walk to the beach every day at a certain time. Yes, the girl from ipanema song was created and composed right behind best western sol ipanema hotel.
Below is a shot of the strip in front of the hotels. There were two lanes for cars, plus a path for bikers, runners, skate boarders and rollerbladers.
The best western sol ipanema had a bar downstairs, upstairs near the pool and a restaurant. Also near the pool was a fitness area. I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the fitness area, but below is a photo of the pool bar.
The best western had a postage sized pool. It looked much bigger on the hotel's website photos. The pool deck had a great view of ipanema/leblon. In the below photo, I am looking out towards Leblon and the mountain/hill known as two brothers.
Below is another shot of the beach near the hotel and posto 9. These photos were taken on a cloudy/overcast day and does not do this area justice.
In case you were wondering what the surrounding area looked like, check out all the apartments. There were a few other hotels in the area. If you squint, you can see a hotel known as Cesar Park.
Below is another photo from the pool balcony.
More photos and hotel suggestions to follow.