There’s no better way to get a sense of how immense Brazil’s biggest city is than a window seat on an arriving flight. São Paulo, a metro area of 22 million paulistanos, sprawls in every direction: up, with residential towers rising en masse like a Lego city; out, as its suburbs grow and its urban core gets denser. To best navigate one of the world’s most complicated, creative, kinetic cities, it helps to have a single home base for your duration of stay. Here, we round up six of the best hotels in São Paulo, all tried and true, that simultaneously offer tranquility, space, a convenient location, and an education in local culture.
What to expect: seaworthy design and the best rooftop bar in SP
Location: Jardim Paulista
Unique it is, this modern ship-shaped hotel completed by prolific Paulistano architect Ruy Ohtake in 2002. Among his more than 400 projects across Brazil, this one stands out: like a hull of a ship with porthole windows on each floor and a soaring lobby with seemingly mile-high ceilings. The 84 guest rooms and 10 suites get those memorable porthole windows—a wall slides to cover them rather than a curtain. High-tech touches abound, such as remote-controlled room dividers and inflatable bed headrests. Thanks to—not despite—its eccentricities, Hotel Unique is easily one of the best hotels in the city, catering to both business and leisure travelers with thoughtful, creative design and impeccable service. It also has a terrific rooftop restaurant (serving a mix of European and Brazilian fare), pool, and Skye bar with such staggering views of Ibirapuera Park and São Paulo’s skyline that locals used to line up to get a glimpse when the rooftop first opened.
Rosewood São Paulo
What to expect: OTT luxury and local art everywhere at the city’s buzziest hotel
Location: Bela Vista
Jean Nouvel architecture and Philippe Starck design. Art by influential Brazilian artist Vik Muniz. Twenty-four kinds of marble and 4,000 artisans represented. The Rosewood São Paulo is superlative in many ways, and visitors and residents alike have swooned over the city’s newest five-star hotel since it opened in January 2022. Within the Bela Vista neighborhood in the heart of the city, the Rosewood isn’t just a hotel—it’s a mixed-use complex. A former maternity hospital has been converted into 160 guest rooms, three restaurants (one staffed 24 hours a day), two pools (a rooftop infinity pool and a ground-level pool with Gaudi-like mosaic tiles), and a jazz/cocktail bar. An ultra-modern, vertical-garden tower will house Rosewood’s biggest suites and 100 residences. Also on site: the 1922 Chapel of Santa Luzia to be used for weddings and a forthcoming cultural center.
Given all those reasons to stay on property, the Rosewood paid extra attention to the design details. More than 450 site-specific artworks are on display—a mix of sculpture, paintings, tile work, drawings, and textiles—created in partnership with 57 Brazilian artists. Linger long enough and a concierge will tell you about Regina Silveira’s wildlife motif decorating the lobby’s carpets. Ride the elevator to different floors, exploring the distinctive art along each corridor (and in the elevator itself), like a “graffiti-inspired painting” by São Paulo street artist Caligrapix. Indigenous cooking tools cover shelves of the tapas restaurant. Acoustic guitars and larger-than-life photography line the wooden walls in the guest rooms. You won’t know where to look next.
Tivoli Mofarrej São Paulo
What to expect: comfort, class, good for families
Location: Jardins district
Entering the Tivoli feels akin to walking into a conservatory—glass ceilings and walls, warmth and light, plants everywhere, and a lobby floor so clean, it seems to sparkle. What a welcome respite from the buzz a block away on São Paulo’s main drag, Avenida Paulista. Behind the lobby, the elegant yet cool Must bar and its caipirinhas beckon; upstairs, some 200 guest rooms in neutral tones have fluffy king-size beds that are hard to leave. Comfort and class have come to define the family-run Tivoli, now a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, the largest collection of independent luxury hotels. It also has an enviable location, within two blocks of MASP (São Paulo Museum of Art), spanning centuries and continents, with Brazilian artists represented as well as Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Picasso, and more. Make time for a meal at Seen restaurant and bar—with a name like that (and 360-degree views of the city, a window seat for every diner), it’s practically manifested itself as an SP hot spot.
Hotel Fasano São Paulo
What to expect: midcentury style, bossa nova vibes, and an incredible Italian restaurant
Location: Jardim Paulista
It’s not hard to imagine a lobby full of fashionistas at the Hotel Fasano, a sexy, midcentury retreat among the high-end designer shops of the Jardim Paulista district. A bartender in a white tuxedo preps the cocktails, like a living example of the highly orchestrated 1940s look and feel of the hotel. It’s so . . . bossa nova. In fact, there’s live bossa nova and jazz in the piano bar Baretto. The somewhat imposing Restaurante Fasano has long been considered one of the best Italian restaurants in Brazil, serving modern riffs on classic dishes (and landing on Latin America’s 100 Best restaurants list). If those spaces feel sleek and masculine with their dark woods and dim lights, the Nonna Ruggero trattoria is more like a casual meal at grandma’s dining table or on her outdoor patio. The 60 guest rooms are similarly bright and welcoming with pops of yellow and quilted leather. Upstairs, the top-notch spa with its fitness center, yoga, and heated pool is a sanctuary unto itself. This is another Leading Hotel of the World.
Palácio Tangará, an Oetker Collection hotel
What to expect: palatial oasis in the heart of the city
Location: Burle Marx Park
The Palácio Tangará emerges from Burle Marx Park like a mirage: an all-white palace overlooking stretches of protected Amazon rain forest. Where did it come from? Is it even real? As an Oetker Collection hotel, which is a luxury German brand, the Palácio Tangará feels a world away from São Paulo’s hustle, which makes for a slightly more reserved, hushed destination. The service is five star and white glove, with a traditional British afternoon tea or dinner at Tangará Jean-Georges (yes, the Jean-Georges) among the highlights of a stay (though there’s a lot to be said for the indoor and outdoor pools and spa). The 141 elegant guest rooms, decked out in cool blues, grays, and cream, include 51 suites overlooking the park, with enough configurations—junior suites, superior suite, deluxe junior suite with terrace, etc.—to accommodate jet-setting families.
InterContinental São Paulo
What to expect: pet-friendly with a multilingual staff; skews toward business travelers
Location: Jardins district
There aren’t a lot of frills at the InterContinental São Paulo but it does a better job than most at making the hotel accessible: The staff speak French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. Pets are welcome, specifically dogs or cats up to 33 pounds (and their guardians, of course). The property lays out its wheelchair accessibility clearly, from the parking lot to restrooms to the spacious 195 guest rooms, many with their own balconies. Business travelers (though nowadays, it’s more like digital nomads) will appreciate the executive rooms with living room “offices,” and the ability to book meeting spaces on arrival. The all-day-dining restaurant is open from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., no matter what schedule your internal clock is on after a long flight, and once you go out for fresh air, Avenida Paulista and the São Paulo Museum of Art are only a few blocks away.