18 best hotels in Brazil for a brilliant break in South America

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Brazil is enormous. Covering almost 1.7 per cent of the Earth’s surface and occupying most of the South American continent, it ranges across several ecosystems — from dense Amazon rainforest in the north through arid savannah into the largest tropical wetland in the world. Its long, curving coastline sparkles with brilliant beaches.

Hotels reflect their surroundings wherever you go: fishermen’s cottages have been transformed into boutique hotels; family farms now function as nature retreats; and opulent palaces have been turned over to urban tourism.

For many Brazilians, life revolves around the beach and nowhere is that more evident than in charismatic Rio de Janeiro. There you’ll find multiple high-rises just footsteps from the sand or perched in the hills with epic ocean views. You can also take advantage of cheaper chains to save your budget for exclusive retreats in more remote parts of the country. Here are the best hotels in Brazil.

Main photo: Rosewood São Paolo (Booking.com)

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1. Pousada Literaria, Paraty

Pousada Literaria (Booking.com)

Pousada Literaria (Booking.com)

£££ | SPA | POOL Best for bibliophiles

Lean into Paraty’s remarkable history at Pousada Literaria. Pulled together from several neighbouring colonial-era houses, it sits in the heart of the old port’s historic centre — among the cobblestones and churches — and provides a slice of calm not found in many city-centre properties. As the name suggests, there’s an excellent library here, with more than 2,000 titles, any of which can be enjoyed while you have a cocktail by the pool in the heart of the property’s gardens.

2. Hotel Fasano, Angra dos Reis

Hotel Fasano (Booking.com)

Hotel Fasano (Booking.com)

£££ | SPA | POOL Best for golf

It’s not widely known outside of Brazil, but the Fasano marque’s ten properties are renowned here for their luxury and bold design. Their hotel in Angra dos Reis is no exception, with a striking look that helps it stand out along the storied coast south of Rio. All 60 rooms look out across a bay hosting dozens of islets and islands, all smothered in trees. The spa is well used by most guests and, uncommonly for the area, even has a pool dedicated for children. For another relatively rare experience in Brazil, head out to the hotel’s 18-hole championship golf course.

3. Rosewood, Sao Paulo

Rosewood (Booking.com)

£££ | SPA | POOL Best for tranquillity

While so much of the hospitality sector in Brazil is characterised by beach-facing resorts or lodges in deep jungles, the largest city on the continent isn’t shy in importing a bit of glamour at the same time. Rosewood’s only South American property opened in Sao Paulo in early 2022 and immediately positioned itself as one of the city’s most luxurious hotels, offering tranquillity and relaxation in a city that rarely lists those qualities among its attributes. Fans of the brand will find everything they’re used to here, from a standard-setting spa to a serene outdoor pool.

4. Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro

Copacabana Palace

£££ | SPA | POOL | Best for glamour

Tucked between high-rises and tatty souvenir stores, this atmospheric Rio hotel — not too far from Sugarloaf Mountain — is a cherished antique. Since it opened in 1923, countless Hollywood stars and writers have floated through the marble corridors and its sparkle hasn’t faded one bit. Ocean-view rooms overlook the wave-print paved promenade and famous Copacabana beach, guaranteeing front-row seats for explosive New Year firework displays and February’s Rio Carnival parade. Pose around a central pool or on beach sunloungers serviced by the hotel. Of the three in-house restaurants, two have a Michelin star.

5. Botanique, Campos do Jordao

Botanique (Booking.com)

£££ | SPA | POOL | Best for wellness

Springs and streams gush from the Mantiqueira mountain range, giving the impression the peaks are weeping. The therapeutic waters have been harnessed for this spa retreat (set inland between Rio and Sao Paulo), supplying drinking water in rooms and feeding an isotonic pool. Aside from yoga and ayurvedic treatments, the scenery alone is enough to help guests disconnect. Rooms command panoramic views above hills and forests, which can be explored on foot or horseback. Paragliding is available for adventurers; others can relax in a private cinema or in a log-fired lounge.

6. Reserva de Ibitipoca, Minais Gerais

Reserva de Ibitipoca (Expedia)

Reserva de Ibitipoca (Expedia)

£££ | SPA | POOL | Best for sustainability

A bucolic getaway at the foothills of the Mantiqueira mountain range, this 13,000-acre private reserve is a utopian exercise in sustainable living. Vast areas have been reforested, providing a healthy habitat for the reintroduction of native species (such as the woolly spider monkey), and communities are encouraged to continue living a traditional way of life. Scattered across the luxury commune are three accommodation options: a converted 18th-century farmhouse, private cottages and houses within a thriving village. Ride on horseback or electric bikes through a landscape of waterfalls, caves and sand dunes.

7. Palacio Tangara, Sao Paulo

Palacio Tangara (Ana Mello)

Palacio Tangara (Ana Mello)

£££ | SPA | POOL | Best for wining and dining

A rare corner of calm in Brazil’s busiest, traffic-choked city, this decadent white palace in the Burle Marx Park is an urban oasis. Once checked in, few guests leave the soothing surroundings, originally built as a mansion for a playboy millionaire but repurposed by the German Oetker Collection. Walking through the property is a lesson in modern South American art, while the gourmet restaurant offers an intercontinental mix of haute cuisine. Two pools and a top-of-the-range spa cover all bases for pampering in one of Brazil’s top luxury hotels.

8. Pousada Trijuncao, Cerrado

Pousada Trijuncao, Cerrado

Pousada Trijuncao, Cerrado

£££ | POOL | Best for a remote escape

Few people travel to Brazil’s great savanna, the Cerrado, an unsung ecosystem covering about a fifth of the country. One of its most enigmatic inhabitants is the maned wolf — seeing one is the star attraction during a stay at this luxurious eco lodge. The conservation group Oncafari has been running a habituation programme with the species, allowing guests to have close-up encounters. Other wildlife activities include birdwatching and night canoe rides in search of dwarf caimans. The working farm produces low-carbon beef, served as part of a menu inspired by nostalgic literary works about the area.

9. Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa, Trancoso

Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa (Mr & Mrs Smith)

Uxua Casa Hotel & Spa (Mr & Mrs Smith)

£££ | SPA | POOL | Best for barefoot luxury

A sleepy fishing village in Bahia is the perfect palm-shaded setting for a bohemian boutique hotel. With the help of local artisans, former Diesel fashion designer Wilbert Das has restored crumbling casas in Trancoso’s car-free main square to create a hip, barefoot hideaway decorated with driftwood furnishings. Lounge by a pool built using aquamarine crystals, or at a beach bar made from reclaimed fishing boats. Capoeira and forro dance lessons can be enjoyed along with boat trips to local beaches and reefs. It’s about an hour and a half’s drive from Porto Seguro airport.

10. Vila Gale, Rio de Janeiro

Vila Gale (Booking.com)

£ | SPA | POOL | Best for nostalgia

In the 1930s, Rio was a playground for affluent travellers. This historic hotel harks back to that period, with a modern tower offering additional, larger rooms. Part of a Portuguese hotel chain, it features a good choice of facilities — including a central outdoor pool with bar service — for an excellent price. The surrounding bohemian Lapa district is gritty but atmospheric and within easy reach of arty Santa Teresa. Decorated with a mosaic of broken ceramics, the nearby Escadaria Selaron steps are an Instagram favourite. It’s about a 25-minute drive to reach the Christ the Redeemer statue.

Best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

11. Bahiacafé Hotel, Salvador

£ | SPA | Best for culture

Walking through the cobbled streets of Pelourinho is both a vibrant and sobering journey back through several centuries. Once a slave auction site, Salvador’s old town is now a centre for dance, art and Brazilian culture. Stay in the thick of it all at this cosy, comfortable hotel in a converted 18th-century building. Local artworks hang from the stone walls and a bar with billiards is an inviting spot for sharing conversation with other travellers. A spa and hot tub facilities add a touch of affordable luxury.

12. Hotel das Cataratas, A Belmond Hotel, Iguacu

Hotel das Cataratas, A Belmond Hotel

Hotel das Cataratas, A Belmond Hotel

£££ | SPA | POOL | Best for nature

The big appeal of this palatial hotel is its exclusive location: it’s the only hotel set within the Iguacu National Park. Thousands of tourists visit the famous cataracts every day, but once turnstiles have closed in the evening, Belmond guests can explore parts of the waterfalls crowd-free. The sounds of gushing water and trilling birdsong echo through an exotic environment of tropical gardens and thick forest. Inside the hacienda-style property, elegant restaurants, afternoon tea servings and opulent rooms are as impressive as the natural wonder outside.

13. Toca da Coruja, Pipa

Toca da Coruja

££ | SPA | POOL | Best for beach

Popular with both surfers and sunbathers, beaches along the northeast coast have year-round appeal. A short distance from the bars and restaurants of Pipa beach in Tibau do Sul, this hideaway of bungalows is in a secluded spot surround by the Atlantic forest. Hummingbirds flit through gardens, hammocks swing from verandas, and clawfoot baths are discreetly positioned on private wooden decks. It’s only a ten-minute walk to dig your toes into the sand, and guests can take more convenient dips in a choice of two swimming pools.

Best beaches in Brazil

14. Casa Turquesa, Paraty

Casa Turquesa (Andre Azevedo)

Casa Turquesa (Andre Azevedo)

££ | POOL | Best for romance

Set in an emerald bay surrounded by mountains on the Costa Verde, Paraty is an eye-pleasing picture of colourful, historic houses now inhabited mainly by artists. One of the brightest properties has been converted into this nine-suite inn, born from a desire to create an authentic guest house serving good food. Occupying a quiet spot close to the harbour, it features a library, a garden with hydromassage pool and a wine cellar. Choose the master suite for romantic balcony views of mist-shrouded peaks and slate rooftops.

15. Best Western Bossa Nova Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro

Best Western Bossa Nova Ipanema (Expedia)

Best Western Bossa Nova Ipanema (Expedia)

£ | SPA | Best for budget

Don’t let the chain label put you off. Designed in collaboration with some of the country’s top fashion gurus, minimalist rooms at this beachside property are far from run of the mill. Although photographs of supermodels glaring from walls are a little off-putting, good-value pricing and an excellent location make it a superb choice. Located between Copacabana and Ipanema, it’s within view of Arpoador, a headland where cariocas (locals) watch the sunset. During the day, guests have access to a private area on the beach.

16. Caiman Ecological Refuge, Pantanal

Caiman Ecological Refuge

£££ | POOL | Best for jaguar spotting

The southern sector of the world’s largest tropical wetland has historically been used for cattle ranching, but this ambitious project is spearheading a shift towards ecotourism. Jaguars are the big draw, seen by more than 90 per cent of guests, who can learn about the habituation and rewilding efforts of the conservation group Oncafari and track collared cats using a telemetry device. You can take a game drive through the working family farm to see hyacinth macaws, giant anteaters and tapirs. Three lodging options offer 18 air-conditioned suites and two villas, all built to a luxurious standard and including swimming pools.

caiman.com.br/en/caiman

17. Cristalino Lodge, Alta Floresta

Cristalino Lodge (Cristian Dimitrius)

Cristalino Lodge (Cristian Dimitrius)

£££ | Best for a jungle adventure

Calls of toucans and howler monkeys echo through this isolated jungle retreat in the southern section of the Amazon, part of Mato Grosso state. Carved by one family’s vision to protect Brazil’s biodiversity for future generations, the boutique lodge runs largely on solar power and has rescued vast areas of forest from illegal logging activities in a reserve the size of Manhattan. Glide along the Cristalino river searching for giant otters and harpy eagles or rise at 5am to climb birdwatching observation towers teetering above the canopy. Or do nothing but relax in a hammock on a floating deck.

cristalinolodge.com.br

18. Quinta do Bucanero, Praia do Rosa

££ | SPA | POOL | Best for views

You’ll be hard pressed to do anything but ogle the views from this hilltop inn overlooking the crescent bay of Praia do Rosa and backed by forest. Each of the 12 suites has a deck to make the most of them, and those in the higher price bracket have an outdoor Jacuzzi. There’s an excellent slow-food restaurant (again with fantastic views) which specialises in locally caught seafood, and a lovely lounge with an open fire. The low-key, intimate atmosphere make the hotel especially popular with couples.

bucanero.com.br

Additional reporting by Jamie Lafferty

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