The luxury travel guide to Rio de Janeiro (we didn't make this list!) from

The luxury travel guide to Rio de Janeiro

With World Cup and Olympic fever gaining pace in Rio, Chris Moss provides his guide to the city’s most stylish haunts – get there before the crowds do.


The Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro’s Niterói Contemporary Art Museum; a number of new cultural attractions now complement the landmark. Photo: Alamy

By Chris Moss

10:36AM BST 11 Oct 2012

Why go now?

The epitome of glamour in the 1930s and 40s and rock ‘n’ roll sexiness in the 1960s and 70s, Rio is back in vogue. Preparations for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games mean revamps of everything from stadia to favelas, as well as protection orders on the colonial architecture. If São Paulo is Brazil’s economic powerhouse, Rio remains its cultural and hedonistic hub, with new arts spaces such as Movimento and the Bhering Factory and the renovation of the Theatro Municipal complementing landmarks such as the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum. The verities endure: Rio’s dreamy beaches, set against granite and quartz morros, and a proper wilderness just a 15-minute taxi ride away at Tijuca Forest Park. The cariocas, Rio’s residents, enjoy a frenetic social life and exude a natural grace, whether heading out for cocktails at the latest new bar in Santa Teresa or crossing the coast road in an otiose swimsuit. With London 2012 now over and the World Cup due to be hosted in the city in 2014, international focus is now turning to Rio – now is the time to go to beat the crowds.

Where to stay in Rio

The Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro in Ipanema.

The Hotel Santa Teresa opened three years ago in its namesake district – a newly fashionable area of tree-lined, cobbled streets. It’s away from the beachside bustle, with a pool, lovely gardens and furniture by Sergio Rodrigues, Rio’s most daring designer. Marina All Suites on Avenida Delfim Moreira, in Leblon, is expensively funky; its new Club Floor has spectacular, cleanly designed rooms with ocean views and its Bar d’Hotel is one of Rio’s hippest. Fasano has become one of South America’s most stylish hotel groups and its Ipanema hotel which wears the Starck signature well, has suites from which you can see the Atlantic from your bed. Staying at La Suite on a cliff in Joatinga, is akin to being at a friend’s place, though that friend is a millionaire modernist who loves pop art and Baccarat chandeliers.

Where to dine in Rio

Rio is perhaps best known for informal pé sujo (dirty foot) dining, sweet and salty comfort food and early drinking – a 10am bottle of Brahma beer is completely cool – in laid-back pubs called botecos. But it’s in the high-end restaurant scene that the city has seen its most obvious renaissance. La Fidúcia has been praised by cariocas for rebooting the classily romantic vibe along Copacabana’s Rua Duvivier, and the contemporary Italian menu – with Brazilian classics such as feijoada available at weekends – is one of the best in town. Le Pré Catelan at the Rio Sofitel (00 55 21 2525 1206, is the best hotel restaurant, where Roland Villard oversees a trilogy-themed starter menu that features sensational seafood entrées such as lobster ravioli and bisque, and langoustine tartar with tomato and mango, and main courses that range from Amazonian tambaqui fish to Angus ox chops. A classic on Avenida Atlântica is Restaurante La Fiorentina which is popular with carioca celebrities and artists and ideal for a pasta or pizza evening with ice-cold beers. On the walls, black-and-white photographs of past diners, including Rita Hayworth, Rudolph Nureyev and Brigitte Bardot, evoke the charm of old Rio.

Where to go out in Rio

If you can’t make it for carnival, don’t despair. Rio is always up for a dance. Studio RJ, which opened in October, is Ipanema’s hot new live venue, hosting performances of carnival music by acts inspired by blocos (street bands). Rio Scenarium, in the lively Lapa district, is an old fave where the choro, forró, samba and everything in between are danced, on three storeys of dancefloors in a space crammed with old furniture.

Need to know:
What: Rio de Janeiro was Brazil’s capitaul until 1960 and is its second most populated city (6.3million), after Sáo Paulo.
When: January to May are bright and dry and the spring months of September and October are Wonderful. Carnival takes place during Lent – great if you love crowds but horrendous if you don’t.
Fly: Direct from London with BA or TAM in 11 hours.

Rio de Janeiro nips New York’s heels as hottest gay travel spot (Sept 2012)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which will host the Summer Olympics in 2016, is gaining ground on New York City as the world’s most popular destination for GLBTQ tourists.

Marketing firm Out Now released findings of its GLBTQ tourism study on Monday. The study shows New York retained its ranking as the No. 1 global destination for GLBTQ travelers. Rio replaced Sydney, Australia, in the No. 2 spot. Sydney slid to No. 3.

New York scored 198 out of a maximum of 200 points in the study, based on surveys of travelers around the world regarding which places they’d like to visit in the next three years. Rio’s score was 194, with Sydney earning 191 points.

Rounding out the top 10 cities for 2013 were:

4. London (previous rank: 6).

5. San Francisco (previous rank: 5).

6. Paris (previous rank: 4).

7. Buenos Aires, Argentina (previous rank: 7).

8. Tokyo (previous rank: 8).

9. Amsterdam (previous rank: 12).

10. Los Angeles/West Hollywood (previous rank: 11).


Among favored countries, France topped the list, up from the No. 2 spot in 2011. In second place was the United Kingdom, which moved up two notches from last year. The United States dropped to the No. 3 position from No. 1.

Making up the rest of the top 10 countries for 2013 were:

4. Italy (previous rank: 5).

5. Spain (previous rank: 3).

6. Australia (previous rank: 7).

7. Germany (previous rank: 6).

8. Canada (previous rank: 8).

9. Greece (previous rank: not ranked).

10. Argentina (previous rank: 9).

Darren Cooper, a senior consultant at Out Now, said in a news release that moving up or down even one notch on the list can mean hundreds of millions of dollars in tourism revenue for a destination. Out Now’s research indicates total tourism spending by GLBTQ travelers will exceed $165 billion in 2012.

“Interestingly, London was the top European destination for many markets, such as the U.S. and Australian (study) samples, but respondents from Latin America were generally more interested in Paris than in London,” Cooper said. “It was also quite noticeable this year that Latin American LGBT respondents in particular have turned away from the United States as a desired travel destination for 2013 and beyond.”

Santa Teresa: neighbourhood guide (August 2012-TimeOut Rio de Janeiro)

Discover a romantic land of cobbled streets a world away from Ipanema


While the majority of Rio’s new arrivals will head straight to the golden sands of Ipanema and Copacabana, Santa Teresa has become a rival for the more adventurous tourists’ affections over the past few years. Cobbled streets, idiosyncratic architecture and its remote hillside location make Santa an enchanting diversion from the high-rise apartments of Zona Sul.

Eating and drinking

Culinarily speaking, Santa Teresa is crammed with restaurants making the most of the scenic setting. Those feeling flush shouldn’t miss the opportunity to check out the view from Térèze, the sublimely romantic bar and restaurant in Hotel Santa Teresa but a “treehouse” booth in nearby Aprazível with its views of Centro and beyond, makes for a memorable meal too. Hearty dishes to suit more modest budgets can be found at Simplesmente or Bar do Arnaudo, both close to Largo do Guimarães, while seafood lovers are in for a treat at both Sobrenatural and Amazonian specialist Espirito Santa (pictured) a little further down the track.

When the sun goes down the hillside springs to life again and the bohemian residents of Santa line the streets outside the numerous bars for a bate-papo (chat). Join them for a shot of artesanal cachaça at time-honoured Bar do Gomez, or admire the art on the walls of Bar do Mineiro while sipping an ice-cold beer. German-themed Mike’s Haus may not attract the same size of crowds, but the towering, juicy house Mike’s Burger is the perfect late-night filler to round off the day.

Around town

The best way to explore Santa Teresa is simply on foot, even if the cobbles do take their toll after a few hours. Start at Largo do Curvelo and drink in the sweeping view of Guanabara Bay before taking the short walk to Parque das Ruínas (pictured). This once-grand mansion fell into ruin after the death of its owner in 1946, and its innovative glass-and-ironwork restoration uses the shell of what was left in a striking fusion of the old and the new. As well as having a spectacular view of its own, Parque das Ruínas sits alongside Museu da Chácara do Céu, the neighbourhood’s principal art museum that includes works by Miró and Matisse and was the site of a famous robbery in 2006 when, during Carnival, works by Dali and Picasso were among those taken.

Largo do Guimarães is the closest thing this neighbourhood has to a centre. The flocks of tourists have precipitated a crop of stores and street stalls here flogging as much ten-a-penny jewellery as original artefacts you might actually want to take home with you, so a safer bet for art lovers is to ring ahead and make an appointment at one of the many studios such as the unusual Ateliê Pedro Grapiuna. Also worth a visit, the CasAlegre Art Vila, is one of the few spaces in Santa to host exhibitions, with guests and public alike treated to works of art from a new artist every month. The pousada also offers cooking courses, massage and yoga as well as the exhibition space in a beautiful old house.

There are many winding routes down from Santa to ground level. Some are safer than others, but a daylight wander down Rua Monte Alegre offers up the incongruous sight of the Russian orthodox church, Santa Zenaide (Rua Monte Alegre 210, 2252 1471), with it’s iconic golden dome. Further up the same road is the Centro Cultural Laurinda Santos Lobo (Rua Monte Alegre 306, 2242 9741), which has a rather haphazard selection of cultural events showing, from photographic exhibitions to yoga weekends.

The white Castelo Valentim is another striking curio, and at almost the highest point of Rua Almirante Alexandro is visible even from some parts of Centro. The fairytale castle, now divided into flats, was commissioned by a Belgian immigrant at the beginning of the last century and left to his architect when he died. It is not open to visitors but makes for some dramatic photos with its rich green backdrop of the forest. SImilarly stand-out from afar is the old Convento Santa Teresa (Ladeira Santa Teresa 52, 2224 1040). Though a pleasant enough building in itself, the convent is significant in this neighbourhood’s history as Santa Teresa itself developed after sisters Jacinta and Francisca Rodrigues Ayres gained permission to build the convent in 1750.


Santa Teresa is synonymous with bohemian living, and the largely arty population opens its studio doors to the public once a year for a weekend of festivities known as Arte de Portas Abertas (Open Door Art). Usually held around June or July, expect impromptu jazz in the streets and a feast of exhibitions all day (and night) long.

Getting there

Santa Teresa may be beautiful, but it’s also a bit of a pain to get to. Until August 2011, jumping aboard the rickety yellow trams to get to this secluded spot was a staple on the tourist agenda, but following a tragic accident in which six people died, all the trams have been taken off the road for major repairs. Your best bet is either to take the 006 or 014 bus from Centro, or see if you can persuade a taxi driver to make the climb.

22nd ARTE DE PORTAS ABERTAS (The Art of Open Doors) this weekend; Friday-Sunday July 6-8; 11h-18h


You won’t want to miss this once a year opportunity to spend some time in Santa Teresa this weekend roaming the cobblestone streets and having the privilege of entering studios and homes of the local artists.  The Art of Open Doors event is important artistic and cultural scene in Rio, and what happens once a year in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa in Rio de Janeiro.  The event celebrates the artists who open the doors of their studios to showcase their work to the public in a scenic beauty and cultural richness.  Maps can be found around Santa Teresa to advise you on locations.  A good starting point is Largo do Guimarães; the main square and “bus stop” in Santa; making it the heart.  There in the main square, next to the cinema (newly renovated and reopened just a week ago) you can find the “i” sign (stands for information) hanging above the door of a tourist information shop….for sure you can snag a map of the participating artists there.  For more immediate information, you can go to the following website:

There are wonderful restaurants all up and down the road that passes through Largo do Guimaraes; so build up an appetite!  Hours of Open Doors are 11h-18h daily.  ENJOY!!!!!

MORE from the TimeOut Rio de Janeiro…..

The bohemian neighbourhood throws open its doors for the 22nd edition of the open art event

Renan Cepedo

Santa Teresa is as famous for its artistic endeavours as it is the iconic bonde (tram) that once rattled its way along the tracks that are etched into the cobbled streets. A world away from the Rio of Ipanema and Leblon, the locals’ pride in their community is as strong as the sense of bohemia that you cannot fail to notice while strolling the tree-lined streets.

All of which makes the one weekend a year when they welcome ‘outsiders’ en masse the perfect opportunity to check out some of the workshops as well as having a good nose at the beautiful houses. Art, gastronomy and music all come together, with the likes of Pedro Grapiuna and Espirito Santa welcoming the visitors, but we have picked five of the best artists worth looking out for on the official route.

1. Barbara Sotério
Rua Paulo Matos 46, Santa Teresa

(drawing and painting)


2. Maria Verônica Martins
Rua Monte Alegre 356/104, Santa Teresa


3. Renan Cepedo
Rua do Oriente 414, Santa Teresa


4. Delfina Renck Reis
Travessa do Oriente 16b, Santa Teresa

(painting, toys and papier machê)


5. Wanderley Figueiredo
Rua do Oriente 5/202


RIO DE JANEIRO CITY MARATHON; this Sunday July 8th, 2012 (start 8am at Praia da Macumba)




It may be Brazilian runners’ marathon of choice but in the past spectators have been rather notable by their absence in support of the thousands of athletes putting themselves through the grueling (but beautiful!) 42 kilometers course that comprises the Rio Marathon. Seen by some as merely an obstacle between themselves and the beach, the Carioca race is afforded less kudos here than in cities like London, New York or Tokyo.  And if you have not registered yet if you are reading this it is officially SOLD OUT, so you will have to save yourself for next year!!!!

Tens of thousands of participants will be setting off from the Recreio starting point at 8am, keeping a coastal route all the way to Flamengo Park that makes the route mercifully flat bar a small incline up to Vidigal, and with the lower tier of the double-stack Via Elevada das Bandeiras closed to traffic it has its share of awe-inspiring moments. Popping out at the southern end of Copacabana and seeing the full sweep of beach before you with Sugarloaf Mountain at its conclusion is exactly the kind of goose-bump moment that marathon runners rely on to summon up that final push.

For spectators, the beachfront kiosks will provide the perfect vantage point from which to watch the action. Kicking back with an ice-cold coconut while hundreds of people struggle by does pose a few moral dilemmas however, and so the vast majority of interested people flock to the finale at Flamengo Park to welcome their broken but proud souls cross the finish line.

It may be easy on the eye, but with barely any shade to count on and temperatures usually in the the high twenties the weather, as well as the sunseekers, can play a big part in the race. The 400,000 cups of water and R$20,000 prize money up for grabs should be enough to keep the athletes moving.

-TimeOut Rio

As posted on THE ULTIMATE HOT CHOCOLATE BLOG….re: Casa Cool Beans (July 3rd, 2012)

Ultimate Hot Chocolate (

Traveling around the world in search of the ultimate hot chocolate

Hot Chocolate at Casa Cool Beans, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I recently stayed five or so nights at Casa Cool Beans in Santa Teresa, Rio, and fell in love with the city. I want to move to Rio, and while looking for a place of my own I will stay in room 9 and maybe also room 7 at Casa Cool Beans indefinitely. I will have the chance to wake up every morning to views across Santa Teresa, and enjoy the light breeze coming through the window. I’d walk downstairs to the breakfast area, past the gorgeous pool, and fill my plate with pieces of delicious ripe tropical fruits and the best bananas you have ever tasted in your life. I would then order my daily omelette with a little bit of everything (why not) and pour myself a large glass of whatever flavour juice they have out that day.

I’d wait for David and Lance, the two owners to come by and do their rounds, saying hi to all the guests, asking them how things are going and giving endless advice about what to do (and not to do). Mousse their super dog will lie there quietly in the sun, walking over every once in a while for a head rub.  I’d then make my way out to enjoy my day in Rio (or look for my new apartment), passing by all the beautiful graffiti and art works covering almost every wall in this perfect casa in Santa Teresa. David and Lance have been sourcing art work from artists across Brazil and are in the process are having every room be dedicated to one artist and full of the art work from that artist. They have also invited many graffiti artists to decorate the many walls across the 4 floors of Casa Cool Beans.

After my day in Rio I would come back in the evening to settle back into my room. Opening the front doors is like entering a little secret world. Since the name of the place isn’t really written on the front door it kind of feels like you are entering your own house, if one could be that lucky. David and Lance were, as they opened casa cool bean just a few years ago after moving here from the US with super dog Mousse. Upon returning I would walk up stairs and probably lounge out on hammock for a bit and then move upstairs to sit on the chairs around the pool and look at the stars. Yeah, I’d be quite happy with that.

Topping it all off, I liked their hot chocolate. The powder was just sitting in a little glass container next to a container that says ‘hot milk’.  It was simple and creamy and a nice start to my days at Cool Beans.

Verdict: I’m torn. If I tell everyone how much I love Casa Cool Beans it might get so busy that I won’t be able to move into room 9 when I plan my move to Rio…whenever that may be in the future. By then maybe David will have convinced Lance to get a puppy to keep Mousse company! Casa Cool Beans, Rua Laurinda Santos Lobo 136,

As posted on THE HUBBY EXPERIMENT BLOG….re: Casa Cool Beans (July 1st, 2012)

Our exchange student – Part 1 (July 1st 2012)

Back in February P and I had the chance to experience the biggest party on earth at the 2012 Rio Carnival. As you can imagine it was the experience of a life time. We partied our butts off; meet a ton of cool and fun people from all over the world and had just an incredible time. I will never forget this experience with my husband (I posted the pictures on another blog if you want to check them out) and I wish and pray that we get to spend more times like this many more times in the future.
One of the highlights of our trip was Casa Cool Beans (, the most amazing bed and breakfast that anyone can ever experience!!! Located in the artsy neighborhood of Santa Teresa this incredibly cozy place, owned by Lance, David and their dog Mousse, was by far the best hotel experience we’ve ever had. We woke up every day to a fresh breakfast buffet and were greeted by the extremely friendly hosts who gave us suggestions about their favorite places in the area. Our bedroom was beautiful and romantic and the entire place was just a piece of art. They even gave me a necklace before I left (every lady guest got one), a necklace! When was the last time a hotel gave you a necklace as a token of appreciation for staying with them. Pretty sure NEVER!
 Casa Cool Beans Entrance
We were so enchanted with the place that we decided that one day we would love to have something like it, where we could be the hosts, meet people from all over the world and make them as happy and welcomed as Casa Cool Beans made us feel. This is when P decided that “we” needed to make some research and perhaps start small in our own apartment in San Diego by hosting an international student to gain experience and to see if we had it in us. And by “we” he obviously meant, you (me). So I did, I looked into some local English language schools and emailed them asking about hosting a student for a few weeks, as practice for our future hostel/bed and breakfast venture. A couple emailed me back with some information but other than that no one really got back to me. I figured that perhaps we weren’t creepy enough to be host parents (I will tell you about my own creepy host parent experience at the age of 15 some other time) so after a couple of weeks I completely forgot about it. Then, about a month ago (three months after I enquired) I got a call from one of the schools telling me that they desperately needed to place a student who had signed up at the last minute and who was coming to the U.S. in two weeks. Apparently they had run out of creepy couples so they had no choice but to ask for our help!!! YAAAAAAY!  Not only that, they wanted to pay us $1500 for our troubles….are you kidding me, heck yeah send us the kid, we will be ready, two weeks is plenty of time!
Of two weeks wasn’t enough and of course we weren’t ready because, “the kid” was going to have to sleep on the only extra room that we have: the man cave, which I have talked about in past blogs and described as not being very tidy by any regular human being standards. So of course as good last minute Latin Americans we hustle the day before our guest’s arrival and ….how should I put it…hid?  P’s s…..tuff anywhere we could since of course nothing must be thrown away, these are valuable things even if we didn’t remember having them. Our friend Melvyn was gracious enough to help us and as the good guy friend he is, he took the time to congratulate P on his awesome untouched, unread collection of National Geographics that has been boxed and moved 13 million times during the 9 years that we have been together J “Seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” P said. “And you wanted to get rid of them!!!!” Thanks Melvyn!
After an arduous day of cleaning the room was finally ready and it looked niiiiiiiiiiiiceeeeeee. We were ready for the arrival of our 23 year old Swedish student who we knew nothing about. How exciting!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (to be continued…..)

Posted by at 10:01 PM

RIO RESTAURANT WEEK (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) May 21st-June 3rd, 2012…ok, maybe more than a week! :)

With more than 50 restaurants joining the list for this year’s Rio Restaurant Week, there are sure to be too many choices to be able to hit all that will end up on your TOP choices list.  This year the price is R$31,90 for lunch and R$43,90 for dinner (these set prices do not include service fees or any covers).  Most restaurants have at least two selections of each an appetizer, main course and desert.  For more information and to see the prefixed menus at all the listed restaurants, please visit the official site: