By Vânia Maciel, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – New Year’s Eve and Carnival in Rio are musts for party-goers, where tropical summers, great beaches and one of the biggest parties in the world are thrown into a mix not found anywhere else. To enjoy it takes forward planning, however, and travelers need plane tickets, places to stay, airport transfers and car rentals, all of which are now short on supply and high in price.
Rio is well served with hotels, bed and breakfasts, hostels and apartments with prices to suit all pockets, but when it comes to New Year’s Eve and Carnival the huge demand means special rates, price increases of as much as 300 percent and most locations only accepting a booking for a minimum five-day stay. With the high season approaching, The Rio Times takes a look at the city’s accommodation and both availability and prices for these two major dates.
Hostels tend to transform all their rooms into shared accommodation to maximize profits, and these are the best bet for finding accommodation nearer the dates, with average prices at around eighty dollars per person in a dorm. A good place to book or find information on line is hostelbookers.com, but it is always advisable to drop the hostel a line direct prior booking.
In regards to the city’s hotels, however, the pictures is rather more bleak, with many already fully booked for New Year, leaving only the dearer end of the market still available. Some are already fully booked for Carnival as well as is the case of Fasano and Sol Ipanema leaving only the bigger hotel chains like Sheraton and Othon with any spaces left.
Prices are now ranging between US$281 for a somewhat inconvenient but affordable downtown hotel up to a whopping US$5130 for the Copacabana Palace Hotel, per night for two people with a minimum five days stay.
It is still possible to find slightly better rates for carnival, but they are disappearing by the minute, and with price fluctuations by the hour (according to Booking.com) now is not the time for indecision.
Bed and breakfasts, or Pousadas, may well be a better option as their prices are more reasonable and, more often than not, have the same facilities offered in hotels but on a smaller scale.
Nevertheless, for recommended ones like Um Meia Tres in Santa Teresa, which is comfortable and has great views of the city, you still need to book very early. They have rooms left during carnival at US$2,000 for five nights for two.
Bob Nadkarni from The Maze, a big Pousada perched on a hill overlooking Guanabara Bay, at the time of writing, has only one private room left and the dormitories for New Year. Prices start at US$530 for one person and rooms are still available for Carnival, but probably not for long given the fact that they already have bookings confirmed for the World Cup in 2014. Bedandbreakfast.com can offer further useful insights into the latest offers.
The other option in Rio is to rent an apartment, and a studio flat for two in Zona Sul floats at around US$3,000 for a 10 days package depending on location, size and how near the date you book.
Apartments for New Year and Carnival are also going fast, but many become available later on as people look to profit from demand and leave the city, but before booking it is always advisable to get some information on the company you are renting from and beware of Craigslist scammers.
Having stunning settings, Rio is the very soul of a good party and thrives during the Summer months, but particularly during new year and carnival, but it doesn’t do well to hang around or expect prices to drop, or you will find yourself panicking and sleeping on a couch.