Finding genuinely affordable accommodations in Rio de Janeiro is no easy task. The city was recently named the third most expensive in the world in terms of accommodations, with prices higher than those of both London, New York and Paris. Budget travelers needn't despair, however. While the price to quality ratio for standard hotels often disappoints, those who are prepared to bunk down in a dorm bed or cook up meals in a shared kitchen will find a wealth of welcoming pousadas ("guest houses") and hostels. In fact, guests would often be hard-pressed to distinguish between the two, as many hostels offer private rooms as well as dorm beds, and many guest houses also offer shared rooms.
In Santa Teresa, lodgings such as Casa Aurea are a welcome change from high-rise hotels — Photo courtesy of Melinda Garrett
Stylish shared living areas and a relaxed vibe are commonplace in Rio's hostels, and, while those in the super-touristy beach zones of Copacabana and Ipanema are expensive by hostel standards, there are some good value accommodations on offer for those who can bear to put a little distance between themselves and the beach. The reformed former mansion homes of artsy hilltop neighborhood Santa Teresa are perfectly suited to a new life as bohemian guest houses and hostels, and some of the city's most charming affordable options can be found here.
Casa Aurea - a combination guest house and hostel - is a wonderful place to swap travelers' tales with fellow guests in the vast shared lounge, where tumbling exotic plants, comfy sofas, stacks of guidebooks and tanks full of colorful tropical fish lend a wonderfully relaxed ambiance to the place. Casa Aurea is a popular choice for longer stay guests and overseas volunteers working with local NGOs, and every effort is made to make visitors feel at home. Prices are more than reasonable by Rio standards, especially for longer stays. Expect many group excursions over to nearby Bar do Gomez, and down the hill to the party-hard streets of Lapa.