10 Top Affordable Hotels in Rio: Where to Stay for Less

With Rio de Janeiro frequently cropping up in lists of the World's Most Expensive Cities, budget travellers may be tempted to head for more affordable destinations instead. 

But with a little advance planning, Rio de Janeiro can still be a viable option for budget travelers.  The number one tip is to head here outside of peak tourist seasons - prices soar over Carnival and New Year, and are also high during the Western high season of July-August. 

Travel here between late September and early December, or between late March and early June, to find the best offers for budget Rio de Janeiro hotels.

In order to bag a real Rio bargain, you might have to sacrifice a little beach time - you might dream of a hotel room overlooking the sands of Ipanema, but with few exceptions you can expect to pay through the nose for the privilege of such a desirable location. 

As a rule of thumb, you'll get an awful lot more bang for your buck if you are willing to stay in less celebrated, but perfectly pleasant, locations such as Botafogo, Flamengo and Gloria, while there are countless lovely pousadas (guest houses) to be found up in the scenic hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa

For those who value a beach location above anything else, Rio de Janeiro's wealth of backpacker hostels offer   lively lodgings in some of the most desirable locations in the city.


Adventure Hostel
Photo courtesy of Cyril A.Silva

If you simply must be near the legendary Ipanema beach but your budget won't stretch to the sometimes outrageous prices of the beachfront hotels, Adventure Hostel may be the accommodation of choice for you. Close to the beach as well as to Ipanema's many bars, restaurants and shops, it's a good place to meet other traveller and make new friends. Staff at the hotel can also arrange trips and sightseeing excursions, and guests can save money by making the most of the decent kitchen facilities. The yummy breakfasts served here will help set you up for a day's sunbathing and sightseeing, too.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Adventure Hostel is a good bet for budget travelers who value a beachfront location above all else.

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Rio de Janeiro lodgings are a hit and miss affair, so it can be a comfort for visitors to the city to know what to expect from their hotel. Novotel Rio de Janeiro Santos Dumont offers the same basic but comfortable accommodations as it offers in cities across the globe. This being Rio - a city notorious for its high hotel prices - the room rate may raise an eyebrow, but is actually reasonable for dependable lodgings in the city. The airport is well-located for the domestic airport and close to the city´s financial district, making it a favorite among business travelers visiting Rio.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Prices here compare favorably with those elsewhere in the Zona Sul (south zone) and guests can save a fortune by self-catering.

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Hotel Novo Mundo
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

Flamengo is a pleasant, middle class residential neighborhood, and this well-appointed hotel is far more affordable than one would pay for the same standard in Ipanema or Copacabana. Close to Catete metro station and next door to Catete Palace and its attractive gardens and Flamengo even has its own beach, with a killer view of Sugar Loaf, and the neighborhood's park is one of the most pleasant green open spaces in the city, and great for joggers. The more famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are just a few minutes' metro ride away.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: The hotel's location is perfect for families and business travelers visiting Rio, and prices here are cheaper than those in Ipanema and Copacabana.

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Lapa Hostel
Photo courtesy of Daniel J.Hoffman

If you want to be right at the heart of Rio de Janeiro's nightlife action, Lapa is the place to be. Even if you decide to make your base at the beach in Ipanema or Copacabana, booking a bed at Lapa Hostel can work out cheaper than taking a cab ride home. Funky furnishings, decent air conditioning and comfortable beds make this a good option for anyone on a really tight budget, and the hostel is close to the many museums, galleries and historic buildings of down town Rio as well as to the hedonistic pleasures of Lapa's nightlife scene.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: This affordable, friendly hostel is well placed for downtown sightseeing and Lapa nightlife.

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Hotel Praia Ipanema
Photo courtesy of Ipanema Inn

Book well in advance and it is possible to get some good bargains at this well located beach front hotel. With a desirable location close to the point where upscale Ipanema meets even-more-exclusive Leblon, the hotel is not the last word in chic, but it offers spacious rooms with balconies, most of which have a view of either the beach or the Christ Statue. There's a good gym and pool, the breakfasts are lavish, and the location is ideal for anyone whose dream break in Rio involves lazing on the beach, sipping an ice cold drink and watching the beautiful people glide by.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: This well-equipped, dependable, family-friendly hotel is one of the best-priced on Ipanema beachfront.

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This smart downtown business hotel offers accommodations that are affordable by local standards. While rooms are small,they are modern and well-appointed. The hotel has a rooftop pool, fitness centre and offers a good buffet breakfast, and is close to downtown´s major sites such as the imposing Teatro Municipal and a host of museums, churches and galleries. The lively nightlife of Lapa is within a short walk or cab ride, while nearby Metro stations make it easy to reach the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema as well as Maracana Soccer Stadium. The historic hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa is a short bus ride away.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: This lively hostel is a good budget-friendly option in pricey Ipanema

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It's not the most beautiful hotel in Rio, but Vermont Hotel is one of very few options in Ipanema that won't blow the budget sky high. Located just a couple of blocks back from the beach and a few minutes' stroll from any number of bars and restaurants, Vermont's location is its standout feature. Inside, it's clean and well-kept if a little dated, but what it lacks in inspired interior design it more than makes up for in proximity to the beach and to the many nightlife options and shops of this upscale neighborhood. It's handy for the Metro, too.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Affordable by Ipanema standards, Hotel Vermont is close to shopping and nightlife as well as the beach.

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Hotel Arpoador
Photo courtesy of Lucy Bryson

It's not bargain-basement cheap, but prices at Arpoador Inn are extremely favorable in comparison with other beachfront lodgings. The location - right on the sands at the point where Copacabana meets Ipanema - is unbeatable for sunseekers and surfers, and transport links to the lively nightlife of Lapa are good. While rooms with a beachfront view are by far the most desirable, it goes without saying that they command a higher price than those with views of the back streets. Prices here drop considerably outside of peak tourist season, but it's likely to be out of the price range of budget travellers during New Year and Carnival.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Rates at Arpoador Inn are reasonable by Rio standards, and the location is perfect for beach lovers.

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Another fine example of Santa Teresa's impressive guest house scene, Casa Cool Beans attracts a mix of young funseekers and older travelers keen to share stories of the road over a few caipirinhas in the leafy garden. Housed in a handsome colonial-era buildings that has been given a funky reworking with colorful paintwork and imaginative decor, Casa Cool Beans is a refreshing alternative to impersonal chain hotels. Ex-pat owners Lance and David pride themselves on their customer service, and the guesthouse is always pristine. The many bars, restaurants and artsy shops of Santa Teresa are close at hand, while the lively Lapa nightlife is just a five minute cab ride away.

Recommended for Budget Hotels because: Casa Cool Beans offers top quality lodgings and excellent service, at prices that are more accessible than hotels on the beachfront.

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Copacabana beachfront is not known for its good value lodgings or its personal service, which makes this welcoming guest house such a find. The English-speaking owner Marta Miller offers personal tips and advice to all her guests, and the vast shared living spaces are decked out with artsy aplomb. Rooms are less spectacular, but the guesthouse scores serious brownie points for the large balcony with views right out over Copacabana. It's just steps from the beach, and right at the Western edge, where 'Copa' meets Ipanema, making it handy for restaurants, shopping and nightlife as well as for varying your beach setting.

Read more about Marta Rio Guesthouse →


Meet Lucy Bryson

Lucy is a British freelance writer living in Rio de Janeiro since 2007. While there are some things she misses about her home country, the lure of year-round sunshine has proved too powerful to resist.