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By Oliver Bazely, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO – Rio remains Brazil’s most expensive city for hotel guests, according to the Hotels.com 2010 ‘Hotel Price Index’ (HPI), released last week. The bi-annual report, based on the actual prices paid rather than advertised prices, shows that since the second quarter of 2009 there has been a twelve percent rise in room prices. Thus the average room now costs US$207, up from US$185 in 2009. Prices in São Paulo, meanwhile rose seven percent to an average of US$169.

The famous Copacabana Palace hotel, photo by Kevin Coles/Creative Commons License.

These figures in fact reverse the trend of previous years, when prices have dipped sharply. With the Brazilian Real now enjoying a relatively high value in the global currency markets, this further multiplies the costs for many tourists. UK visitors, for example, have seen the average room price increase from £105GBP to £138GBP, a rise of 28 percent.

Price hikes around carnival month are well known, when even a last minute hostel room can fetch up to 400 percent above the usual rate. But the recent rises in Rio are part of a broader trend in the industry. Country-wide, the tourism economy is predicted to grow by over four percent per year for the next decade. In Rio, this will undoubtedly surge during the World Cup and the Olympics with Cape Town, host city of the 2010 World Cup, a prime example as room rates increased by over fifty percent for the duration of the tournament.

At the upper end of the scale, the Copacabana Palace provides luxury accommodation in a landmark beachfront building. Rooms booked in advance can be as cheap as US$435, but for peak periods and urgent bookings, prices between US$650-1000 are more common. Rooms include high ceilings, broadband and a mini-bar, as well as essential beach footwear – a pair of complementary Havainas.

Another upmarket location, the Fasano, is located just beyond the other end of the beach in Ipanema. The hotel is smaller than the Copacabana Palace, but with Philip Stark guiding the design and Michelin-starred Italian chef Luca Gozzani in the kitchen, Fasano has quickly established itself as the premier hotel in the city. The daily rate is US$600 for one night without view, while an ocean-front room will cost nearer US$850 per night.

For those looking for something a little cheaper but still with a beachfront location, the towering Marina All-Suites is a popular destination. The hotel offers basic rooms as well as ‘design’ rooms featuring more contemporary décor. Guests have access to a gym, sauna, swimming pool and spa, and prices start at US$430.

As well as the traditional options, there are of course numerous boutique hotels and pousadas, located throughout the city. A good example, La Suite features individually designed rooms with color coded themes. All come with wi-fi, private patios and an iPod loaded with local tunes. Prices are available on request.

For a more comprehensive round up of the pousadas of Rio, see our previous article here. For the city’s cheapest accommodation, don’t forget to check out the likes of hostelworld.com and hostels.com.

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