Fasano Rio

Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro City, Brazil Book from

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
50s style meets Noughties chic: this 89-room addition to the Fasano dynasty is THE place to be seen in Rio
Elegant, understated and fabulous: 3 words that sum up the Fasano Rio. The more playful sister hotel to the supremely classy Fasano in São Paulo, this is another of owner Rogerio Fasano's burgeoning stable of top-notch restaurants and hotels. Designed by Philippe Starck from scratch, inspired by bossa nova, the hotel is a decadent blend of period and designer furniture and cool contemporary style; rich hardwoods sit alongside Art Deco-style lamps, staff wear 1950s inspired uniforms. The 79 rooms and 10 suites luxuriate in beds with 300 thread-count Egyptian linens and plump goose-down pillows, marble bathrooms and quirky fittings. Nearly all rooms have a private balcony, most overlooking the clear Atlantic Ocean.

Romantics, sybarites, families and design hounds are all made to feel at home here and the hotel aims to reflect the relaxed beat of the city. Spend a few days lazing by the rooftop infinity pool admiring the unbeatable panoramic view or slip on your complimentary flip flops and wander down to the golden beach, where Rio's bronzed and beautiful strut their stuff in tiny swimwear. Try the signature mais vida treatment combining shiatsu and reflexology in the indulgent Fasano Spa, or visit the beauty salon. The Marvellous City has much to see: Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and Corcovado are nearby, and there's a wealth of designer shops to browse. After sundown, chill out at a beach bar, heat up at one of Rio's über-trendy nightclubs or have an unforgettable Italian-influenced meal at the Fasano Al Mare restaurant.

Highs

  • Knowing you're staying in what many call the best hotel in Rio, with both style and great service in spades (they note your preferences for your return visit, all first time guests receive a complimentary 15-minute massage)
  • The rooftop infinity pool, which overlooks the city, the ocean and Dois Irmãos; wonderful at sunset
  • Strolling out of the door, straight onto the beach (private beach service includes umbrellas, chairs, towels, tent with security guard and waiters)
  • The rooftop bar - the perfect place to sip a Caipirinha as the sun goes down
  • The décor: a plush mix of 1950s vintage and retro-modern chic in pale olives and golds and lots of wood, across all eight storeys
  • Baretto-Londra - the super-cool lounge bar - is a hotspot for Brazilian celebs

Lows

  • The prices, both for accommodation and dining. Rio is an expensive city and this is arguably the snazziest hotel in town
  • The Superior Rooms are on the small side and only half have ocean views - if you're going to splash out, do it in style and upgrade to a suite
  • Some find this end of Ipanema less enticing and the street in front of the hotel is a bit noisy
  • There are no bathtubs, although the suites have Jacuzzis
  • Apart from the rooftop terrace there's no outside space
  • Breakfast isn't included

Best time to go

Come at anytime of year. February and New Year are best if you want to be around for Carnaval and the biggest parties; if not, these times are best avoided as prices soar and Rio is packed. July to September are the coolest months but also the driest.

Our top tips

We took a favela tour and found it absolutely fascinating, and perfectly safe. Rio has 'cleaned up' some of the favelas in advance of the World Cup and Olympics, and we marvelled at the industry and initiative of their inhabitants. When heading up to Christ the Redeemer, unless you have pre-paid for your train tickets, you'll be best advised to take a private minibus half the way and then change onto the official minibuses for the second half. If you're with someone, one of you should stand in the queue while the other gets in line for the tickets, thus saving you a good 20 minutes.

Great for...

Beach
City Style
Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Design Hotel
  • 89
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Private beach service
  • Beach service
Room: Deluxe Ocean Front

Rooms

The 79 rooms and 10 suites are beautifully designed and full of character. Parquet floors and whitewashed walls show off period-styled furniture, and original photographs from the 50s and 60s depict diving boards and tango dancers. Beds are kingsize - loaded with crisp white linen and mounds of goose-down pillows - and lamps are of onyx, the 'eared' mirrors were custom-designed by Philippe Starck for the hotel.

The mod cons you'd expect from a luxury hotel blend in seamlessly, the attention to detail is first-rate: you get fluffy white dressing gowns, 800g towels, minibar, umbrella, shoehorn and WiFi. Turn down service is twice daily, replenishing the complimentary fresh water, supplying tomorrow's weather forecast, and a nightly chocolate. There's even a butler service for that extra degree of luxury. A cordless phone is supplied, you can take it with you around the hotel.

Most rooms are Superior Courtyard, but although these are the cheapest rooms, they're by no means spartan. Each has double or twin beds, a dark-wood desk (with a bowl of fruit for booking through i-escape) and a retro leather armchair. All have sliding French doors onto a private terrace; note that half do not face the sea. The Superior Ocean rooms on the first floor are larger and all face the sea with a private terrace.

The top categories, starting with the Deluxe Ocean Rooms, are more spacious and all have balconies with chairs and fantastic sea views.

Suites all have a larger minibar, espresso machines and fresh flowers on arrival. The 7 Ocean Front Suites have separate living areas, 2 bathrooms, Jacuzzis and walk-in closets. However, the 3 supersize Ocean Deluxe Suites are the pièce de resistance - almost 5 times the size of the Superior Rooms, with a panoramic view of the ocean.

Bathrooms are full marble and the walk-in showers in the higher room categories overlook the Atlantic Ocean. Ample Fasano-branded amenities supplied include shampoo, liquid soap, moisturiser, conditioner, cotton buds, shower caps and cotton wool, and bath foam in the suites.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Fasano is a name that's synonymous with gourmet cuisine - this is the fourth generation of the family whose gastronomic empire began with a coffee import/export business in 1902 in São Paulo. It's not just the food that's fabulous though; the über-cool Fasano restaurants are places to rub shoulders with the city's movers and shakers.

Here Fasano Al Mare serves elegant Italian cuisine with a seafood twist under a Murano chandelier on Scandinavian-style tables. The recently revamped menu is the brainchild of Italian chef, Luca Gozzani, who came from a three-star Michelin restaurant. Choose from the a la carte, set (at lunch), or tasting menus, perfectly wine matched on request.

Space precludes me from rhapsodising over every dish we tried, but the Carpaccio di Polipo (octopus carpaccio), stuffed squid, Tortelli di Vitello (delicate tortilla with veal), suckling pig, and tiramisu millefeuille will all linger long in the memory. The wine list is endless (with an Italian emphasis), and the service impeccable.

Breakfast is also served in the restaurant; choose from an extensive buffet of house made breads including pão de queijo (a Brazilian favourite made with cheese), fresh fruit, sausages, eggs to order, yoghurt, fruit juices. Let Fasano Rio know of any dietary restrictions, all easily catered for.

You can also arrange for private dining in the restaurant, you and your party will be cleverly concealed by white curtains.

The rooftop bar is open all day, serving a mix of hot and cold light meals and freshly squeezed tropical fruit juices - a great place for lunch, sundowners and late-night cocktails, and for gazing at that stunning panoramic view.

Light meals and drinks are also available in the Baretto-Londra lounge bar - a hip space with leather chairs, a British rock 'n' roll theme and regular DJ sets.

If you'd prefer to eat on your terrace, room service has an extensive menu, serving everything from burgers to à la carte meals from Fasano Al Mare.

There are also many excellent restaurants within walking distance and beyond to choose from. Alessandro e Frederico (Rua Garcia D’Avila) is good for brunch, salads, pizza and pasta, with a lovely terrace for alfresco dining. If you’re into ice cream, swing by bijou Mil Frutas in the same street for dessert. Sister restaurant Gero also offers Italian fare just round the corner, Aprazivel is in boho Santa Teresa, try Roberta Sudbrack near the botanical gardens for Brazilian fusion.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Private dining
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Soak up the sun on the hotel's rooftop terrace - its infinity pool has staggering views of the city and Dois Irmãos

  • Lie on the beach at Ipanema and watch beautiful Brazilians play beach tennis and volleyball; the promenade is pedestrianised on Sundays when the great and the good (and their dogs) parade up and down

  • Learn to water ski; the hotel can arrange a variety of watersports

  • Go and see the enormous Christ the Redeemer statue at the top of Corcovado - either catch the train up the steep hills or go in a private taxi. The views from the top are incredible, as is the size of the statue itself (30m)

  • Buy a suitcase and fill it with new clothes - the designer shops on Rua Prudente de Morais and Rua Visconde de Piraja are fantastic, and there's the Hippie Market on Sundays

  • Take in some live samba and choro at Rio Scenarium and Carioca da Gema in Lapa. Locals flock there at weekends and the atmosphere is carnival-esque

  • Visit the Instituto Moreira Salles, a former private residence with landscaped gardens which now houses 19th- and 20th-century photographic exhibitions and rotating exhibits of contemporary Brazilian artists (closed Mondays)

  • Take the cable car up Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain) and look out over Rio from a different angle

  • Get a taxi to Rio’s old town and the bohemian hillside
    neighbourhood of Santa Teresa, both a 30-minute drive - the latter offers a dose of local colour and colonial architecture

  • Stroll around the peaceful Jardim Botânico - beautiful sculpted gardens with statues, fountains and rare plants from the Amazon, plus toucans and monkeys

  • Take a tour through H Stern’s gem workshops on Rua Garcia D’Avila, where Brazil’s most exquisite stones are on display (Brazil is famous for its aquamarines). Be on your guard for some hard selling though

  • Jump in a taxi and ask for Prainha, a lovely secluded beach just south of the city

  • Enjoy a signature 1hr 20m mais vida treatment (based on shiatsu and reflexology) in Fasano Spa

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Surfing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Water-skiing

Kids

Children are welcome and those under 12 stay free of charge if in a cot (provided) or using existing beds (sharing with parents). Extra beds can be added to Deluxe Rooms and suites for an additional charge. On arrival all children receive hot milk and a cookie baked with their name on it, while babies get a complimentary Adriano teddy bear. Cup cakes decorated with hearts are offered. Full nanny services are available.

Family friendly accommodation:

Families are advised to stay on the 7th floor where a deluxe suite, an ocean front suite and superior courtyard can connect as required to make a family suite, providing twin and king beds.

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

Complimentary swim diapers offered. You'll find kids shampoo, lotion and soap placed in the bathroom made by the well-known Granado pharmacy who make sustainable products

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Kids menu available

Kids Activities on site:

The rooftop pool has a shallow end, ideal for kids

Kids Activities nearby:

For a family meal that sets the bar to its highest notch, our recommendation is to go to legendary Porcão Rio for the full on Rodizio experience - where they carve meat onto your plate. The service was superb, there's a vast and varied buffet so even vegetarians are very well catered for, and best of all, there's a kids room with nannies, toys, a ball pit and cartoons. We all loved it!

Distances:

  • Airport 1 hour
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Supermarket: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
7/
Food
7/
Service
6/
Value
7/
Overall

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