Hotel Review: Fasano Rio de Janeiro
Published: May 2012
Generally considered to be the best hotel in Rio, the Fasano sits proudly in the heart of Ipanema, right behind the fashionable Praia 8 beach, overlooking the entire bay.
I arrived at the entrance of the Fasano Hotel straight from a long overnight flight into Rio de Janeiro, very early in the morning; I am not sure if it was the moist warm air of the sea front, the light of dawn flooding the atrium, the fragrance of exotic flowers or just the jetlag, but I recognise love at first sight when it happens!
The Fasano family moved to Brazil over a century ago from Italy, taking with them the style and love for Italian food; after several successful ventures in the restaurant business, they moved onto hotels in 2003, first in Sao Paulo, then in Rio in 2007, and now they are expanding elsewhere in Brazil and South America. The uniqueness of their success lies in understanding the different local needs and styles of each of their hotel locations, diversifying the Fasano Hotels greatly from one another, in style but not in glamour.
And so the Fasano Rio de Janeiro embraces entirely the city’s hedonistic and relaxed beach attitude and, despite being one of the most up-market hotels in the country, you can feel completely at ease by walking around in flip-flops (as long as they are Brazilian Havaianas of course) and beachwear.
The Hotel was famously designed by French design guru Philippe Starck, famous generally for his use of ultramodern materials, like polycarbonate plastics and slick lines. For this commission the Fasano family influenced the final design by requesting a more “organic” feel; the final result is a smart blend of Brazilian designs from the 1950s and 1960s which use wood, glass and marble as core materials, perfectly in tune with the city and the surrounding beach.
Perhaps one of the most striking features is the desk at reception: a bold, enormous block of wood reclaimed from a single Amazonian tree trunk. This is where the extremely elegant and helpful staff welcomed me and checked me in swiftly, after I was offered a much needed espresso in the lobby.
I’ve had the pleasure of staying in a Deluxe Ocean View room. The very first impression was marked by the overwhelming vision of blue that hit my eyes, a view of which I never grew tired of: I found myself more than once glued to that balcony mesmerised by the scenery! Beautiful Sergio Rodrigues wooden chairs adorn the balcony and make it a perfect spot for relaxing and watching the beautiful cariocas walk by.
The hotel has a total of 82 rooms and 10 suites. Guestroom features include private terrace, Wi-Fi, work station, 32” TV with a good selection of local and international channels, DVD/CD player, with a selection of DVDs picked especially for me by the staff, in case I got bored of Rio’s thrilling nightlife! Only omission I found was a music docking station.
The room is designed to make best use of the postcard views; you can even see the ocean from the shower, which is a very nice touch. The décor relies on a few but striking pieces of furniture to create a warm and organic feel. The sumptuous bed with extra fine silky Egyptian cotton sheets ensure long and deep sleeps. The colour scheme is limited to shades of leather-brown and cream which contrast perfectly with the deep blue of the ocean and the sky. Probably the nicest feature in my opinion is the bathroom, a large space decorated with translucent cream marbles back-illuminated to diffuse light evenly and warmly; Castanha do Brasil toiletries add that extra touch to ensure a perfect stay.
However, the guest star of the Fasano sits right on top of the building: on the 8th floor is its celebrity-packed rooftop terrace and pool: the clever use of dark wood decking and glass railings make best use of the breath-taking 360 degrees views of Ipanema, especially when you enjoy them from the stunning infinity pool, sipping a Capirina at sunset. Absolutely incredible. This is the place to be in Rio.
The rooftop also features a sauna, a fitness centre and a bar when you can get refreshments, Italian-inspired food and a great selection of cocktails. If you don’t like bathing in the pool, the hotel has facilities by the beach too, including deckchairs and towels and some refreshments.
The Fasano is also famous for its restaurant, Fasano al Mare, where celebrity chefs have recreated an Italian-inspired menu that is essentially focused on fish and seafood locally sourced. I enjoyed a tasty dinner one evening and it definitely gets my authentic Italian sign of approval. The restaurant is also where the abundant buffet breakfast was served: I enjoyed the healthy options almost as much as the less healthy ones. The staff were always there to help me choose something new and typical of Rio when I was in need of inspiration.
Baretto Londra is another little gem of the Fasano: a London-inspired Italian cocktail bar serving incredible drinks, decorated with relics from the British rock and roll music scene and hybrid Italianised union jacks (UK flag in the green, white and red colours of the Italian flag). It felt as a perfect spot for me, being an Italian from London!
Needless to say, I was very sad the day I had to leave the Fasano. I had an incredible stay thanks to the facilities, its stunning location, the food, the atmosphere but most of all the staff, who were always ready to help and made me always feel at ease. I really had to force myself to leave the hotel to do some sightseeing, and in truth I did little of it. A perfect excuse to visit Rio and the Fasano again!
Hotel Review: Fasano Rio de Janeiro
Paolo has been at Travel Channel since 2008 heading the Digital department, where he’s been responsible for the rebrand of the company's online presence in 2009, the launch of new regional websites, including a mobile website. Originally from Italy, Paolo is a passionate traveller, having explored over 35 countries in the past few years, enjoying diverse travel styles, from luxury to backpacking.
To find out more about Fasano Rio de Janeiro, visit