All hotels in Brazil have bathrooms in their rooms. The simplest type of accommodations usually consists of a bed, TV, table, a little fridge, a telephone, and a bathroom with a shower. (Budget hotels in the Amazon or Northeast don't always have hot water.) In luxury hotels you'll also generally have Internet, cable TV, and a bathroom with a bathtub and shower. Hotels listed with EMBRATUR, Brazil's national tourism board, are rated using stars. Staff training is a big part of the rating, but it's not a perfect system, since stars are awarded based on the number of amenities rather than their quality.
If you ask for a double room, you'll get a room for two people, but you're not guaranteed a double mattress. If you'd like to avoid twin beds, ask for a cama de casal ("couple's bed").
For top hotels in Rio, Salvador, and Recife during Carnival you must make reservations a year in advance.
Carnival, the year's principal festival, takes place during the four days preceding Ash Wednesday. Hotel rates rise by at least 30% for Carnival. Not as well known outside Brazil but equally impressive is Rio's New Year's Eve celebration. More than a million people gather along Copacabana Beach for a massive fireworks display and to honor the sea goddess Iemanjá. To ensure a room, book at least six months in advance.
In the hinterlands it's good to look at any room before accepting it; expense is no guarantee of charm or cleanliness, and accommodations can vary dramatically within a single hotel. Also, be sure to check the shower: some hotels have electric-powered showerheads rather than central water heaters. In theory, you can adjust both the water's heat and its pressure. In practice, if you want hot water you have to turn the water pressure down; if you want pressure, expect a cool rinse. Note that in the Amazon and other remote areas what's billed as "hot" water may be lukewarm at best, even in higher-end hotels.
Don't adjust the pressure while you're under the water—you might get a little electric shock.
Most hotels and other lodgings require you to give your credit-card details before they will confirm your reservation. However you book, get confirmation in writing and have a copy of it handy when you check in.
Be sure you understand the hotel's cancellation policy. Some places allow you to cancel without any kind of penalty—even if you prepaid to secure a discounted rate—if you cancel at least 24 hours in advance. Others require you to cancel a week in advance or penalize you the cost of one night. Small inns and B&Bs are most likely to require you to cancel far in advance. Most hotels allow children under a certain age to stay in their parents' room at no extra charge, but others charge for them as extra adults; find out the cutoff age for discounts.
Bed and Breakfasts
B&Bs in Brazil are comfortable, friendly, and offer a modicum of privacy. They’re a nice option if you're looking for something a little more intimate than a hotel.
AirBnB is another option that has become a popular choice in Brazil. You can look up listings of short-term lets and small B&Bs that locals post on the site. Often you will be staying in someone's home while they are away. Usually the rates are a fraction of other accommodations.
Bed & Breakfast.com. 844/271–6829; 512/322–2710; www.bedandbreakfast.com.
BnB Finder.com. 888/469–6663; www.bnbfinder.com.
Another accommodations option is to stay on a fazenda (farm), or hotel fazenda, where you can experience a rural environment. They are ideal for families with kids, as most have adventure sports and programs for children. Some farms in the state of São Paulo date back to colonial times, when they were famous Brazilian coffee farms. Prices range from around $70 to $150 per day for adults, but the actual cost depends a lot on which facilities and activities you choose. The prices we give usually include all meals (but be sure to check this beforehand) and are valid for the months of January, February, July, and December (high season). You can get discounts of up to 30% during the low season.
If you want the facilities of a hotel plus the family environment of an apartment, but at a lower cost, a pousada is a good option. Cheaper than hotels and farms, pousadas are simple inns, often in historic houses. They usually offer breakfast and have swimming pools, parking lots, air-conditioning and/or fans, TVs, refrigerators, and common areas such as bars, laundry, and living rooms. Some have a common kitchen for guests who prefer to cook their own meals. Hidden Pousadas Brazil is a helpful website for locating pousadas.
Hidden Pousadas Brazil. 219/8122–2000; www.hiddenpousadasbrazil.com.