Life is about choices. No? The choice you make on where you’ll spend next New Year’s Eve is up to you. You could make the choice to stay at home and watch Ryan Seacrest on television or actually be at one of those parties you’re watching. If you’re into living a life filled with unbelievable experiences, then Rio during New Year’s Eve is definitely for you. However, there are some challenges with getting to be a part of this bigger than life experience. If you don’t book air and hotel 8-10 months in advance then it’ s probably not going to happen. Imagine, 3 million people gathering from all over the globe, all on the beach at the same time to party. It’s pretty nuts and really hard to score a cool hotel and decent air that doesn’t route you through Zimbabwe. Here are my tips on how to make it happen. Did I mention book early?
I’m definitely a bit of a pain in the but when it comes to hotels. The only place I would recommend is the new Fasano Hotel. It’s an outstanding hotel. I should mention that the Fasano is located in Ipanema and not in Copacabana (where the New Year’s Eve fireworks are). For my money it’s still the place to stay. Speaking of money, it will definitely cost you to stay there for New Years’ Eve. Plan on (pre-paying 6 months in advance) about $1,200 per night for the New Year’s Eve package (the 3 days surrounding New Year’s). The other nights are about half that. I know it’s stupid expensive, but it’s worth it…
The Week Leading Up To New Year’s Eve
Depending on when you arrive (I recommend arriving the day after xmas) you’ll notice a daily palpable increase in excitement and crowds leading up to New Year’s Eve. There are a ton of restaurant options and places to party. Remember, this place is nuts during this period so book restaurant reservations in advance or have a Fasano Black card to wave around (it really does have magical powers). The best restaurants for food, scene and vibe are listed below. I’ve also included my top picks for lounges, clubs and shopping.
1. Zuka (Leblon)
Rua dias Ferreira, 233 District: Leblon Telephone: +55 21 3205 7154
Modern ambience with style and contemporary food, great vibe, good looking people, a place to see and be seen. Don’t miss it!
2. Sushi Leblon (Leblon)
Rua Dias Ferreira, 256 District: Leblon Telephone: +55 21 2274 1342
This is the best sushi restaurant with a sophisticated ambience. Definitely worth the wait, the food is amazing, the service is good and the crowd enhances the ambiance.
3. Satyricion (Ipanema)
Rua Barão da Torre 192, District: Ipanema Telephone: +55 21 2521 0627
Satyricion has a dramatic entrance with a lobster tank, scallops, oysters, tropical clams, mussels and so on. This is a unique and pioneering restaurant and is considered to be one of the best among the seafood restaurants in Rio. Mick Jagger has been coming to Brazil quite often now to see his kid, Lucas. He leaves his hotel only to visit the Satyricon – a restaurant that he classifies amongst the very best in the world. It used to be a fisherman’s joint!
4. Gero (Ipanema)
District: Ipanema Telephone: +55 21 2239 8158
Great Italian restaurant where you’ll often see different celebrities. They offer an amazing wine list and are famous for desserts (get the lemon petit gateau). Gero is a great place with very good food and service as well as beautiful people. It is difficult to get a table – you must make a reservation.
5. Aprazivel (Santa Theresa)
Rua Aprazível 62 +55 21 2508 9174
This is a casual but AMAZING place with phenomenal views and incredible Brazilian contemporary food. The neighborhood, although dodgy, is old and quaint and worth a visit. Northeastern Brazilian food is the staple here and is very tasty and inventive. Book the tree tables (2 to 3 days in advance).
6. Zaza Bistro – (Ipanema)
Great Bistro with a fusion of Brazilian and Asian food. Sit on the pillow tops upstairs or on the tables outside. Great option for dinner in Ipanema.
1. Londro (Ipanema)
Avenida Viera Souto, 80 – Ipanema +55 21 3202 4000 F 55 21 3202
Beautiful bar located in the lobby level of the Fasano Hotel towards the end of the bright runway. It opens every day of the week after 7pm. It has the most famous DJ’s duos, trios and bands play to an extremely exclusive crowd.
2. 00 Zero Zero (Leblon)
Rua Padre Leonel Franca 240 District: Gávea inside planetary +55 21 2540-8042
Clean décor, full of pillows and candles and outside. Saturday Nights are fantastic, great music and beautiful people. Lounge music outside and house music inside.
3. Boox (Ipanema)
Rua Barao da Torre, 368 District: Ipanema +55 21 2522 3730
Thursday or Friday or Saturday: A contemporary Italian restaurant that almost becomes a nightclub as the evening moves on. This is a classy, sophisticated and really fun lounge. It’s small and selective. Filled with beautiful people and great music. The best lounge in Ipanema. Make reservations for this one.
4. Rio Scenarium (Lapa)
Rua do Lavradio District: Lapa +55 21 3852 5516
Go Saturdays: A must if you are in Rio. See Rio in the 1920s. It’s a bar, a restaurant and a nightclub all in one. Very moderate prices and great live Samba music. Try to get there on Wednesday or on a weekend and book a table next to the dance floor. This is a 2,700 sq foot space which a few years back was an obscure antique store. Today, every weekend sees a crowd of 3,000. People dance Samba all night long and everyday there’s a party. If you go to one club in Rio make it this one. Arrive before 10:30. The line can be brutal.
1. Reserva (Ipanema)
Rua Maria Quiteria, 77 District: Ipanema +55-21-2247-5980
Reserva is the new cool thing in Ipanema. It is definitely the best newbie in Carioca clothing.
2. Osklen (Ipanema)
Rua Maria Quiteria 85 District: Ipanema +55 21 2227 2911
Osklen is by far the most authentic and sophisticated option for clothing with stores all over the country and also in Milan, Rome, New York, and Geneva. The designer Oskar Metsavaht is internationally acclaimed for his “Brazilian Soul” inspired lifestyle brand. It’s a must when in Rio.