advertisement

Brazil offers a wide range of accommodations. In the large cities there are modern high-rise hotels as well as apartment hotels (or rental flats for you Brits) known in Brazil as apart-hotels. The apart-hotels are often a better deal than regular hotel rooms, offering both cheaper rates and more space: a separate living room, bedroom, and kitchen. The drawback is that you sometimes don't get the pool, restaurants, and other amenities of a hotel.

Some of the better hotels that you will find in Brazil are among the Accor Group (www.accorhotels.com.br). This French company operates a number of brands such as the Sofitel luxury hotels, the excellent Parthenon apart-hotels, and the Mercure and Ibis. The last two are fairly new and most hotels are only a few years old. The Mercure offers more comfortable accommodations; the Ibis is the Motel 6 version, clean and reliable but no-frills.

A more high-end chain with numerous new properties is the Meliá (www.solmelia.com). The Blue Tree (www.bluetree.com.br) is also represented in many Brazilian cities. The older properties in the chain are not the best but the modern ones are excellent. A relative newcomer is the Atlantica Hotels (www.atlanticahotels.com.br) chain. Some of its best-known brands are the Comfort Suites and Quality. Both are good, affordable hotels with modern amenities and standards.

Outside of the large cities you will often find pousadas, essentially our equivalent of a bed-and-breakfast or small inn. Accommodations prices fluctuate widely. The rates posted at the front desk -- the rack rate or tarifa balcão -- are just a guideline. Outside of high season and on weekends you can almost always negotiate significant (20%-30%) discounts. High season is from mid-December to Carnaval (mid- to late Feb), Easter week, long weekends, and July (winter vacation). Notable exceptions are Brasilia and São Paulo, where business just dies during high season and weekends and rooms are heavily discounted.

Tip: Always check the quotes you have obtained from a hotel with a travel agency such as Brazil Nuts or South America Travel as many hotels will give their best rates to travel agents and stick it to individual travelers or those who book via the Internet. The Copacabana Palace quoted us a price of US$220 to US$450 for a room, whereas Brazil Nuts can sell you that same room for US$150.

Unlike North American hotels, Brazilian hotel rooms do not feature coffeemakers, irons, or ironing boards, although the latter can sometimes be delivered to your room upon request. Even in luxury hotels, the complimentary toiletries are usually very basic, so pack your own. On the other hand, breakfast (café de manha) at Brazilian hotels is almost always included in the room price and at most places includes a nice buffet-style spread including bread, meats, cheeses, fruit, eggs (sometimes), and café com leite, strong coffee served with hot milk. In recent years a few of the more expensive hotels have taken to charging for café de manha; if this is the case it's noted in the review.

Accommodations taxes range from nothing to 15%, varying from city to city and hotel to hotel. Always check in advance.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.