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Belmond Copacabana Palace review

Tamsin Wressell soothes aching muscles after a lengthy hike at Belmond Copacabana Palace in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro

The hotel
The iconic Art Deco-style hotel sits on the front of Copacabana Beach. Crisp white sunbeds and umbrellas surround the pool and mark its section on the beach, with the hotel’s three restaurants scattered along the edges of the pool. A boutique shop is inside, along with a library, stylish meeting rooms and two separate gym areas – one for machines, one for weights.

Double doors lead into a large living area with high ceilings, bright white walls and neutral blue and cream furniture that’s scented with a burning candle, all with an ocean view. A similar theme extends into the bedroom, which has a queen-size bed, complimentary flip-flops and the fluffiest robes. A large walk-in wardrobe is sectioned off from the bathroom, which is a huge marble space complete with bath, shower, two sinks and a separate room for a toilet.

We eat dinner at the Michelin-starred pan-Asian restaurant MEE. We choose the sample menu with a gin, pineapple and mint cocktail to start. Seven courses come in a carousel of delicious Japanese-inspired dishes. Some of the tastiest sushi I’ve ever had is followed by duck, wagyu beef and tofu cheesecake, among others, accompanied by local red wine. The following morning, breakfast is served poolside with a buffet selection of meats, cheeses, cereals, fruits, yogurt and pastries, plus juices and coffees. Later in the day, Brazilian snacks are served from the pool menu — the shrimp empanadas are a delectable, creamy treat which we tuck into with a caipirinha.

The treatment
Advised to arrive half an hour early to make the most of the facilities, I saunter between the steam room, sauna and relaxation room — complete with headphones, refreshments and magazines. The spa offers an array of treatments using local products, but after mentioning a few aches from a gruelling hike, a 60-minute D-stress massage followed by 30 minutes of sapucaí reflexology is recommended by my therapist to detox and soothe aching muscles. A selection of three fragrances is available during my treatment and I choose uplifting peppermint. The treatment starts with a full-body massage using the light peppermint oil — a welcome break after a couple of weeks of thick sun cream and mosquito repellent. My therapist focuses on my weary muscles: shoulders from the backpack and thighs from the long walk. My limbs are stretched out before reflexology pinpoints my trouble areas for rebalancing.

The massage really did the trick with my tired muscles and got me ready for the long flight home later that day, but I didn’t feel much benefit from the sapucaí foot massage, apart from feeling a little more energised.

Selecting the fragrance of the oil for the massage was a nice touch.

Best for
Couples or business travellers, although a couple of families were also staying at the hotel. Ideal for those looking for a high-end luxury experience.


A one-night stay at Belmond Copacabana Palace in a deluxe one-bedroom suite on a B&B basis starts from R$2,246.25 (£437) plus taxes and charges. A 60-minute D-stress massage costs R$295 (£57) and a 30-minute sapucaí foot massage costs R£155 (£30).

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