While Copacabana wins out as the most picture-perfect city beach in Rio, Ipanema is easily the more chic of the two neighboring stretches of sand. Less flanked by high rise hotels than its neighbor, Ipanema is the ideal place to while away the hours just working on that tan and watching the beautiful people glide by. There are scores of kiosks selling tempting food and drink, too. The towering twin peaks of the Dois Irmaos (two brothers) mountains frames the beach scene in spectacular fashion, and visitors will find the beach informally divided into social groups. Head to Posto Nove (Lifeguard post 9) for a young, hip crowd, or look for the giant rainbow flag if you're looking for gay-friendly sunbathing and socializing.
Recommended for Spas because: Massage chairs line the beachfront, offering a chance to relax and unwind against a backdrop of crashing waves and white sands.
Lucy's expert tip: Rio's beaches are its social spaces - don't be afraid to try out your Portuguese if somebody catches your eye on the beach, just make sure they're not already accompanied before you try out your lines!
For a truly luxurious experience in Rio, it's hard to beat the spa at Copacabana Palace. This classic hotel added a five-star spa and beauty salon in 2007, and the treatments here are all about making those well-heeled guests feel like a million dollars. You don't need to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy a beauty treatment, massage or sauna, but you will need to book in advance, and it goes without saying that treatments at this luxury hotel spa don't come cheap. If you want to be pampered in style though, this is the place to come
Recommended for Spas because: Brazilian A-listers and other members of Rio's chic elite come here for to be pampered in style.
Lucy's expert tip: Call or email ahead for the full treatment menu, and look out for special promotional packages in low season.
Hotel Santa Teresa Relais & Chateux marries French chic with tropical pizazz, and the spa here is one of Rio's best. The lovely hilltop location is the perfect setting for a little pampering, and the spa itself does not lack Parisian panache. Many of the products used are made from native Brazilian ingredients, so you can soak up a little Amazonian power as you treat yourself to a relaxing massage session or a beauty-boosting facial. The hotel is located in Rio's boho-chic Santa Teresa neighborhood, and it's well worth taking a stroll around the area before or after your spa visit - there are some great bars and restaurants nearby.
Recommended for Spas because: Le Spa offers top treatments in stylish surrounds and is open to non-guests.
Lucy's expert tip: If you're in the mood to splurge, follow a visit to Le Spa with a meal at the hotel's acclaimed French restaurant.
Buddha Spa has several branches in Rio de Janeiro, having carved a niche for itself among the body-conscious sun-lovers of the wealthy beach zones. At Buddha Spa you can push yourself with a punishing weights work out or relax with an indulgent hot stones massage, reflexology session or a facial. There's a vast range of health, wellness and beauty treatments on offer here, as well as treats for couples such as candle-lit hot tub sessions for two. Our pick of the Buddha Spa branches is this one in Ipanema, due to its location close to the famed neighborhood's beach, bars and shops.
Recommended for Spas because: Buddha Spa offers a huge range of health and wellness treatments as well as challenging exercise classes.
Lucy's expert tip: There's a branch of Buddha Spa at the Rio Sul Shopping mall in Botafogo, should you feel the need for a mid-shop pick me up.
This yoga center in the heart of hectic Copacabana bills itself as an 'Oasis of Calm' in the city and offers relaxing Reiki massage as well as yoga, pilates and meditation sessions. The center offers one-off lessons and treatments as well as monthly or yearly memberships, and there are are Hatha, Iyengar and Hatha Vinyasa lessons to suit everybody from absolute beginner to experienced yogi. There are classes for pregnant women, too. Ananda Yoga also offers treatments such as ayuverdic massage, acupuncture and reflexology. The emphasis is on well-being and health, rather than beauty, but treatments such as lymphatic drainage are a boost for anybody wanting to feel confident on the beach.
Recommended for Spas because: Ananda Yoga is a tranquil, cool and calming space for treating body and soul.
Lucy's expert tip: Classes are conducted in Portuguese but English lessons can sometimes be arranged - call or email to check availability.
The DeRose Method of yoga focuses on physical, mental and emotional healtg and well-being. Fans of the challenging style of yoga can attend classes in Rio at studios in Copacabana, Leblon and Centro, as well as open air classes in front of the city lake at Lagoa. Founded in Brazil, DeRose has now built a firm following overseas, with studios in New York, Paris, London, Lisbon, Rome and Barcelona, and is currently enjoying a reputation as the yoga style of choice for high acheivers and trend setters. Where else to get acquainted with Metodo DeRose than in the country that created it?
Recommended for Spas because: Active types looking for a challenge will leap at the chance to practice DeRose yoga in a beautiful setting.
Lucy's expert tip: Ask about beginners' sessions if you are not an experienced yogi. The DeRose Method is particularly challenging.
Located inside Rio's somewhat exclusive Jockey Club in well-to-do Gavea, the spa at Espaco Nirvana feels an eternity removed from the hectic pace of life on the streets of Rio. Espaco Nirvana was originally conceived as a space for practising yoga and pilates, and it remains the largest yoga center in the city. Continuing the theme of relaxing body and mind, the spa offers a range of therapeutic massage treaments, holistic remedies and beauty treatments, and there are a range of full-day and half-day spa packages combining a range of treatments and treats that will have you feeling fresh from the inside out.
Recommended for Spas because: Espaco Nirvana offers a blissful escape from the heat and hectic pace of the city outside.
Lucy's expert tip: Indulge in a half-day pampering package before a night out at Gavea's famous 00 nightclub and restaurant for a day full of treats.
This spa and treatment center close to Ipanema beach is the perfect place to unwind with a massage or hot-stones treatment during a stay in Rio. Along with an enormous range of spa, massage and beauty treatments, there's a restaurant serving 100 per cent organic, vegan fare. The foot spa treatments are a joy for anybody who's been tramping the hot streets of Rio, and there are full-day and half-day packages available that combine a range of health, relaxations and beauty treatments, according to the customer's wants and needs. The facials are a popular choice and the secret behind many a local's glowing skin.
Recommended for Spas because: Spa Maria Bonita has a huge range of treatments, and a wonderfully relaxing ambience
Lucy's expert tip: Come here after a day at the beach for the ultimate feel-good vacation treat
The spa at super-chic hotel Fasano Rio is as luxurious and elegantly appointed as one might expect, and offers a wide range of beauty and massage treatments. It's not cheap, but if you're looking for a real Rio treat, book yourself in for a head massage or facial - you'll leave feeling like a million dollars. Staff are attentive, and the space is small but immaculately maintained. The massages are a wonderfully relaxing way to round off a day at the beach, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled if you're into celebrity spotting - this hotel is number one with A-listers in Rio.
Recommended for Spas because: The spa at Hotel Fasano Rio is right in front of the beach, and the service is top-notch
Lucy's expert tip: If you really feel like a treat, combine a day at the beach with a treatment at the spa and a meal at Hotel Fasano's Italian restaurant, Fasano Al Mare. Just be sure to book in advance.
This wonderfully relaxing spot is a hot stone's throw from Ipanema beach, and you can feel your stress levels drop the moment you step through the door. Treatments such as head massages, shiatsu, foot massage and sports massages are among the treatments on offer, and there are packages for couples as well as half-day options that pack in all manner of relaxing treats. The jet-lag sessions are popular among new arrivals to the city. Prices are more accessible than others in the neighborhood, too, with discounts for cash payments.