Retro glamour on Rio de Janeiro’s beach
While a long list of A-list celebrities such as Marlene Dietrich, Princess Diana and Robert De Niro have graced the white marble interiors of the glamorous Belmond Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro, the hotel itself is also a star. It appeared in the film “Flying Down to Rio,” in which Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire danced across the ballroom floor. The French Riviera-inspired hotel was built in 1923 and reigns supreme from its perch on Brazil’s famous Copacabana Beach. It evokes a bygone era with its attentive service, 1920’s architecture and retro glamour. The Art Deco grand dame has 245 rooms, many of which overlook the beach, as well as three restaurants, a piano bar, an outdoor swimming pool and a private beach.
Guest rooms and suites are divided among the original building and the newer tower — both have views of either the beach or city skyline. Deluxe Beach View Rooms look down on Copacabana Beach and have Juliet balconies overlooking the mosaics of the famous Portuguese pavement. Suites are a smart splurge, especially those with direct beach vistas. All have separate living room and bedroom spaces, and some Pool Ocean View Suites have small kitchens.
French-inspired and timelessly classic, rooms are decorated in light-hued neutrals and rich fabrics. They also feature Etro bath products, writing desks, fully-stocked mini bars, widescreen plasma TVs and iPod docks.
There is not one but seven Penthouse Suites, each with a private terrace. They are decked out with original works of art, exotic carpets, French fabrics and marble bathrooms. The penthouse floor offers exclusive use of a private swimming pool, terrace and a wet bar. Butler service is also on-call.
Copacabana Palace Spa has seven treatment rooms, two dual treatment suites for couples, a sauna, a steam bath, a relaxation area, a salon and a fitness center spread over three floors. The spa uses AYASPA, a line of organic products made from Brazilian ingredients such as açaí, white clay from the Amazon and essential oils. A large selection of treatments ranges from traditional favorites like facials and massages to unique Brazilian-flavored services. The spa’s popular two-story salon offers a full range of beach-friendly services, including highlights, pedicures and bronzing.
Hotel Cipriani Restaurant pays homage to the Venice, Italy original with its traditional and inventive Italian dishes and includes a chef’s table for special occasions. For Pan-Asian cuisine, try MEE, where a sake sommelier will guide you through 25 imported varieties. The eatery has Chinese teahouse-style booths, portraits by Bangkok-based artist Christian Develter and wooden dividers in the style of Asian screens that create an intimate feel. Specialties include dishes like Spicy Thai Salad, Vietnamese Salt and Pepper Crab and a range of sushi. The less formal Pérgula Restaurant is located poolside and available for all-day buffet-style dining where you can try Brazil’s national dish, the feijoada, a bean and meat stew. Copacabana Piano Bar is known for its aperitifs and nightly jazz music.
Rio’s grand dame earned its full-service reputation with a bevy of on-site amenities, including tennis courts, a business center, two boutiques, an oh-so chic outdoor swimming pool with poolside service, and a private beach with sun loungers, umbrellas and attendants. Tip: Do not leave without trying a caipirinha by the pool, made with cachaça, sugar and lime. Or just let the concierge arrange a sunrise picnic at Christ the Redeemer, the famous 125-foot statue of Jesus Christ that overlooks Rio and beyond.