By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – When it comes to nightlife, Rio is much better known for its samba-infused botecos and late night clubs than for its à la mode lounges. Yet while the Cidade Maravilhosa may not boast the same selection of lounges as London, Miami or New York, there are still various options to choose from, mostly concentrated in the Zona Sul (South Zone).
For those looking for someplace more upscale and stylish than a boteco or even a bar or pub, yet more relaxed than a nightclub, a lounge is the perfect in-between.
Palaphita Gávea, near Baixo–Gávea, has wooden chairs and tables scattered throughout what resembles a garden, illuminated by soft candlelight. The rustic ambiance is classed up by a view of the Jockey Club racetrack, and while there is no dance-floor, the DJs keep the mood set from sundown until late into the night.
Francisco Laudo de Camargo, an American-Brazilian living in Rio, loves Palaphita “… because it’s a hidden enclave where we can escape the city. It feels like we’re hidden in the jungle. The trees and the flora from the racetrack make me forget that I’m in a major metropolis. The music adds to the alien ambiance. Plus it’s conveniently located in the middle of Zona Sul.”
There is also a Palaphita in Lagoa, which functions more as a day and evening restaurant (while Palaphita in Gávea brings in more of a night crowd). In Lagoa though, the serene view overlooking the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, coupled with a cocktail, will put one immediately at ease.
The restaurant and club Zozo is the life of the party in quiet Urca, boasting a privileged location in front of the Sugarloaf mountain (and directly next to the cable car station). This intimate space, lit by candles, gains a unique touch with the presence of a tree, that stands in the middle of the restaurant.
Deck Lounge Bar, situated on the 16th floor of the Pestana Rio Atlantica Hotel in Copacabana, won Veja Rio’s vote for the place with the best view of Rio in this year’s edition of “Comer & Beber” (“Eat and Drink”). This rooftop lounge bar has a very Miami feel, with white cushioned couches and a pool in the center.
Another chic spot worth checking out is Bar dos Descasados, found in the sophisticated Santa Teresa Hotel. The unique venue, which was once the slave quarters of a former mansion, is marked by one-hundred year old stone arches that are reminiscent of old Europe.
Filled with colorful couches, chairs and dorsal lounge beds, this welcoming bar is the perfect place to spend a romantic evening with that special someone or just to relax with some friends. Part-indoor and part outdoor, the lounge, which overlooks the Santa Teresa neighborhood, is also blessed with breathtaking sunsets.
Carioca Leonardo Ferreira Fogaça has only good things to say about Bar dos Descasados. He even lists it as one of his go-to places to take friends who are visiting from out of town. He raves, “the place is beautiful! The atmosphere is super cozy [and] rustic. The service is grade 10/10.”
Back in Zona Sul, the Meza Bar is another lounge-like restaurant and bar in Humaitá that is deserving of a visit. One of a kind, succulent cocktails (in addition to a fresh food selection that will make one’s mouth water) make this modern and fashionable bar a home run.
Albert Sara, a New Yorker who recently moved to Rio and used to work in the nightlife industry, recommends Meza Bar. He says, “There is an extensive cocktail menu and a creative selection of small plates, including a great ceviche. The service was friendly and attentive, and the modern, artistic decor would make you think you were in Soho, NYC.”