Av. Atlantica, 3804, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Located at the south end of Copacabana Beach, on the way to Ipanema, the Emiliano artsy design hotel competes with Fasano for the too-cool urbanite crowd.
This ocean-facing property, which usually has the most expensive rates in town, doesn't present a lot of other superlatives. For now though, Emiliano Rio is the newest luxury hotel and the one of the two coolest. This boutique hotel is unique and aesthetically pleasing, hitting all the right notes for design hotel buffs. You get all the expected electronic lounge music, modern furniture, a rooftop bar with pool, and plenty of attitude.
This Emiliano property is the wilder sister of a longer-established hotel in Sao Paulo. It shows off one of the most distinctive façades on the beach thanks to white metal screens with cut-out designs that can open or close across guest balconies. From a practical standpoint, these give you a privacy choice while sitting on the balcony and can also serve as an extra sun shade when needed.
The entry area is chopped up between different rooms, with the two travertine marble reception desks being in a back corner, three chairs in a sitting area in front of them. Around the corner is a gorgeous library lounge though, with seating in different configurations for multiple groups and natural light coming through a window wall that faces a vertical plant garden. There's also another lobby lounge area toward the front entrance.
The main Emile restaurant on the first floor is a real showpiece in design and on the plate. It is split into two areas. One utilizes romantic lighting and lots of wood tones. The room beyond is lit with sunlight from above the glass ceiling and its three walls are covered with another vertical garden. Furniture in grays and whites allows the plants be the focus of attention. All three meals plus a Sunday brunch are served here.
The menu is focused on seafood an organic ingredients from local farmers, all plated with a flair. Set aside some time and attention and make a few hours of it. Most dishes were in the range of $20 to $40 when we visited during one of the most favorable exchange rates for the U.S. dollar in decades.
Cruiser bikes are parked out front for guests to use on bike paths that go all the way to downtown Rio if desired. Or you can work out inside in a well-equipped 24-hour gym with a killer view: facing the beach and ocean from a level just one below the roof deck.
The Santapele spa is on this 11th floor as well, with four treatment rooms, sauna, and steam. There are two guest room suites here too for spa buffs that can be combined with treatments in packages. One nice perk at Emiliano Rio is that all guests get a complimentary 15-minute neck and shoulder massage that will ease some of the kinks after a day of travel to get here.
The pool on the roof is not wide enough for two to pass while swimming, but if you beat the crowd you could do laps. Otherwise it's best for cooling off while gazing out at the ocean. There are terraced rows of deck chairs for sunning or lounging and a full bar that can get busy at night.
There are no other public facilities on site in this boutique hotel, but as with all of them in Copacabana, you've got a hundred places to eat and drink within a few blocks, including right on the beach. Staffers can also help arrange local tours and excursions.
Of the 90 rooms here, a shade more than half do not face the water as there are buildings on the right and left side of this one. The "deluxe" rooms at the lowest price point are interior facing, but are of ample size at 450 square feet. A glass wall separates the bathroom area from the sleeping area, with a single vanity and combo tub in the bathroom. They have hardwood floors, minibar, robes, Havianas flip-flops, safes, tea kettles, and Illy coffee makers. Expect lots of white walls and linens, clean lines, modern furniture, and a minimum of decoration.
Santa Pele toiletries are in each room, made from local ingredients like acai, cacao, coconut, and quinoa. A Japanese combo bidet and toilet are in each bathroom.
Ocean rooms have a furnished balcony and great view, while the Ocean suite is around 900 square feet and has a full living room plus dining for six. This suite has a double vanity, showers with his and hers rain nozzles, and a big soaking tub. The largest options are the two Master Suites on the top floor, with more room, whirlpool tubs, and a walk-in closet. There are ways to combine different room and suite options for families with hallway doors that lock.
Most of the clientele was wealthy Brazilians during our visit, but English proficiency from the staffers was excellent. For guests looking for a modern design aesthetic and a balcony facing the ocean, the Emiliano is a great choice if you can stomach the rates.
Total Number of rooms: 90
Published rates: $445 — $2,290 plus taxes
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.