The staggering prices charged by hotels in Rio de Janeiro have made headlines in the international press. So it's small wonder that budget travelers are often tempted to give the city a wide berth. But while all but the seediest of hotels are charging upwards of US$100 per night for a basic box room, hope for budget visitors to Rio lies in the city's buzzing hostel scene.
International visitors to the city often complain about the charmless nature of hotels in Rio, but that is not a charge that could rightfully be applied to Rio de Janeiro hostels. Far from being stuffy and uninviting, the best hostels in Rio offer funky decor, lively social areas, mammoth breakfasts and good communal cooking facilities.
Lapa Hostel is just a couple of blocks from the famous Lapa street party. — Photo courtesy of Alicia Nidjam
One standout is relative newcomer Lapa Hostel, which is ideally located for enjoying the famously lively nightlife of Lapa. With prices starting at R$30 for a dorm bed and R$130 for a double room with balcony, this canary-yellow former townhouse has won traveler plaudits for its laid-back vibe, friendly staff and - perhaps most importantly- the free caipirinhas served on weekends.
Just a couple of sips of these dangerously drinkable cocktails is enough to get a party spirit flowing, and guests tend to head out en-masse to enjoy the street party happening just steps away from the hostel door.
It's all too easy to overdo it at the street party (Those fruity, sweet concoctions sold by the innumerable street stands taste so innocent but are far from it.). Thankfully, the hostel serves breakfast until midday on Sundays to cater to those who partied hard the night before.
One word to the wise: despite an ongoing cleanup operation and increased police presence, Lapa remains one of Rio's seedier areas after dark, so dress casually and don't take anything to the street party that you can't afford to lose to pickpockets. That said, don't be put off by the grubby street scene. The street the hostel sits on is a relatively safe one, especially during the working week.
Head here with an open mind and a friendly approach, and this could become one of your best stays in Rio.