Avenida Atlantica, 2600, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With a prime spot in the middle of Copacabana Beach and a roof deck for taking in the view, this JW Marriott is the best option in Rio for Marriott Bonvoy members and business travelers who also want to have some fun.
Facing Copacabana Beach—but wedged in between two other buildings like most others on this strip—the JW Marriott Rio offers terrific views. In two public spaces, every guest can take them in. This would be from the roof deck, which has a pool, lounge, and dining spot, plus the gym right below it. Guests with high Marriott loyalty status—or those who pay for the upgrade—can get a 180-degree view from the executive floor lounge. Last, anyone who books an oceanfront room can wake up to a sand and sea vista.
The hotel stands out from the exterior. It looks as if there were some real thought put into the design, which alone differentiates it from most of the utilitarian condos filling the space beside the malecon. Part of the charm of this beach area is the mix of people and cultures though. You can step out the lobby door and eat at the same places and drink at the same bars the Brazilian beachgoers are in. JW Marriott guests do have access to their own section of chairs and umbrellas though, which eliminates one hassle of visiting the public beach.
Upon entering, you find an attractive lobby space in an atrium, with the right side dedicated to check-in desks and the concierge. There are ample sitting areas in this room filled with natural light, with a bar in the corner for ordering your favorite drink. One high table has outlets for laptops. There is a TV in every direction you look, which makes it feel more like a sports bar than a lobby lounge, but there are some less distracting spots on the mezzanine for a serious conversation if you need one.
This lounge area also serves as the de facto restaurant though, including for a breakfast buffet. This isn't a large hotel by size and with a hundred other places to eat within walking distance, dining space takes a back seat to meeting rooms and guest rooms here.
There's a better place to eat lunch and dinner anyway: the roof. There you can enjoy the Rio sunshine and order local specialties from a permanently placed food truck. Get a delicious cold coconut with a paper straw in it, held in a bamboo stand, if it's not cocktail time yet. Try the fried tapioca cubes with dipping sauce, which was one of the best things I had in the city. Other menu items include a choripan grilled sausage sandwich, lamb kebabs, bowls, grilled shrimp, and burgers. Later in the evening, it's a more social affair, with a full cocktail menu and an array of Brazilian craft beers.
The swimming pool on the roof here is not large, but it's a nice place for a dip to cool off. Most of the roof is taken up by lounging areas as it's more popular at night when the temperature breaks a little in summer. A spa with full massage options has two treatment rooms.
Guest rooms at the JW Marriott Rio are furnished in predictable chain hotel style and follow the usual layout. Expect cream colored walls, dark brown furniture, and ample space for your clothes. A few photos of the local area provide a welcome sense of place. Ergonomic desk chairs are a signal that you can get real work done and you'll find more channels in English here than in other area hotels. There are a good number of regular USA-style electrical outlets and USB outlets around for charging, a minibar, and an electronic safe. Nespresso coffee machines and Marriott-branded toiletries round out the amenities.
There are more rooms without a view than with one here, so expect to be facing the atrium if you're not specifically booking an ocean view class. Besides the executive floor options and ocean view rooms, the other upgrades are larger suites. The top choice is the ocean-facing Presidential Suite with its full living room and tk.
While the JW Marriott Rio de Janeiro doesn't have a lot of superlatives to offer, it's a dependable choice that pleases its majority-foreign guests thanks to good English fluency and reliable service. In a city so starved for high-end hotels with good staff training, those factors can feel very welcome indeed.
Website: Marriott.com Brazil
Total Number of rooms: 245
Published rates: $270 - $1,800
Review and photos by Timothy Scott.