Updated on Jan.7, 2012
The demographic explosion which brought Barra da Tijuca, one of the top beaches in Rio de Janeiro, from an empty stretch of coast in the 1960s to a city-sized district has never meant an abundance of excellent hotels.
Though not near some of Rio's most popular attractions, such as the Corcovado, Barra has great assets - the beauty of the 11-plus-mile beach, good restaurants and the proximity to other fine beaches, such as Prainha, Recreio and quaint Barra de Guaratiba with its seafood eateries - which justify a stay.
The area's potential will be better explored with the opening of new hotels in time for World Cup 2014.
1. Windsor Barra
One of the Windsor Barra's top attractions - a spectacular business and convention infrastructure occupying five floors, considered by many the best in Brazil - is unlikely to be a major factor for tourists planning a vacation in Rio de Janeiro.
However, other outstanding features, such as the beachfront location, the panoramic terrace with two swimming pools, the sauna or the lounge, deserve consideration if Barra da Tijuca is going to be your place to stay.
The Windsor Barra has 338 apartments. Seven floors are fully non-smoking, and there are 15 rooms with universal design.
2. Sheraton Barra Hotel & Suites
Opened in 2003, the Sheraton Barra is newer and smaller than the Sheraton Rio Hotel & Resort on Vidigal Beach, and it has fewer new attractions for families than the former, Rio's best resort. However, travelers, kids included, will find plenty to do at the hotel after the beach, which is just across Avenida Lucio Costa.
Two swimming pools (one for children) with controlled temperature, a fitness center, a squash court and a Vila Spa by L'Occitane are some of the perks. The hotel also has the Terral restaurant serving Mediterranean food, a lobby bar and a poolside bar.
All the 292 apartaments and suítes have balconies and Sheraton Sweet Sleeper (SM) Beds. Rooms on higher floors are called Preferred; the ones on lower floors, Classic.
3. Transamérica Prime Barra
You can live comfortably at the Transamérica Prime Barra; Luxury rooms have mini kitchens with utensils, and some of the rooms can be conjugated for more family comfort. The hotel is not on the beach, but a van service (also available for airport transfers) can take you there.
Balconies with beach views, two swimming pools with a poolside bar, a restaurant, saunas and a tennis court are some of the hotel's top features.
4. Bourbon Rio de Janeiro Residence
The location is Condomínio Mundo Novo, an upscale development consisting mainly of residential buildings and also home to the Promenade Barra First Class
Distance from Rio's main attractions other than Barra are compensated by the hotel's location facing an ecological park with a scenic mangrove lagoon, beyond which lies the beach (visible from many of the rooms).
Buses to other areas of Rio are easily available on the major avenue which borders the complex. There's also transportation to Barra malls from inside the complex itself.
More About Bourbon Hotels, Brazil:
5. Promenade Barra First
The Promenada Barra First, one of three hotels managed by Brazilian company Promenade in Barra da Tijuca, features the chain's mix of business travel functionality and vacation-oriented touches.
Located inside Mundo Novo, the same development which is home to Bourbon Rio de Janeiro Residence, the Promenade has free access to the beach across the lagoon for guests, free internet and a bus service to several spots in Barra da Tijuca.
In preparation for World Cup 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games, the company will launch a new hotel in Barra da Tijuca, the Promenade Verano.
6. Tropical Barra Hotel
Praia do Pepê, famous for its surfing and located at the end of Barra da Tijuca closer to Rio’s other famous beaches, such as Ipanema, is where Tropical Barra stands out as a moderately priced, beachfront option with 102 functional rooms, a restaurant serving all meals and a pool. The hotel opened in 2004.
The close-up view of Pedra da Gávea, Rio's famous hanggliding spot, is a pleasant perk - the mountain can be seen from the pool and from some of the rooms.
7. Hotel Sol da Barra
Located at the end of beachfront Sernambetiba Avenue closer to Rio's main touristic areas, Sol da Barra is a convenient option in the mid-price range. With the look and feel of hotels in smaller Brazil beach destinations, Sol da Barra has only 20 apartments. Mini kitchens, laminate or tile flooring, balconies, free internet access, bathrobes, and HD TV in the rooms facing the beach are some of the perks.
The hotel doesn't have a pool. It doesn't have a restaurant either, but it's close to several restaurants and you can also save by shopping for groceries and snacks and eating in your suite.
8. Gaivota Rio Hotel
New rooms have helped boost the overall condition of this rare budget hotel in Barra da Tijuca. The location, three long but walkable blocks from the ever cool, great-for-surfing Praia do Pepê, is a definitive plus; so are the new improvements, such as rooms with balconies.
All the guest rooms, in three categories - Standard, Executive and Luxury - have laminate flooring, A/C and a mini refrigerator. Better rooms have roomier bathrooms and LCD screen TVs.
The hotel has no pool; the top amenities are convention facilities and the Don Gourmet restaurant serving a generous breakfast (included in the rate), a lunch buffet and a la carte dinner.
9. Other Hotels in Barra da Tijuca
- Promenade Paradiso All Suites
Not within walking distance to the beach, but nearly across from the Hard Rock Café and closer to main attractions than Promenade's other Barra hotels.
Visit their website
- Promenade Casa del Mar
Beachfront hotel with nice balconies, a pool; not too close to Barra's busiest areas.
Visit their website
- Royalty Barra
Beachfront accommodations on Praia do Pepê. Queen size beds and balconies, views of the ocean or Pedra da Gávea, a pool, a bar are some of the main assets.
Visit their website
- Hotel Praia Linda
A budget hotel with a great location right on Praia do Pepê (21 of the 60 guest rooms face the beach) and a restaurant.
A budget hotel with a restaurant about five long blocks from Praia do Pepê.
Visit their website