Rio de Janeiro is a majestic city that is on most people's bucket list of places to visit. Candid’s Baldwin Ho takes us there.
Which hotel offers the best views of the city you might wonder? One hotel to consider is Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort; it is situated in a cosy enclave on the edge of Leblon in the city's south zone with glorious, uninterrupted views of Ipanema beach.
It is the city's only beachfront resort with a recently renovated pool area lined with coconut trees that stare out into the ever popular beach areas of the city, accompanied by the soothing sounds of the Atlantic Ocean.
The facade of the Sheraton Grand Rio might look slightly dated but all the rooms have been refurbished to a very high standard. What I admired most is their balconies, which are somewhat of a rarity in the hotels of Rio.
Riotous favela colours
Our room was looking onto the Vidigal favela side, which I actually thoroughly enjoyed with the riotous colours, and also looking on to the hotel's secluded beach area. The luxuriant carpet and dark-coloured furniture add a sense of elegance where you might have expected a more corporate, formulaic offering.
Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel & Resort offer private access to the beach and includes sun loungers, towels, and even an attendant to look after all your needs. They have a whole raft of activities on offer from hiking to fitness classes to beach volleyball. Traffic is notoriously bad in Rio, so if you are planning any day excursions to places like Sugarloaf mountain or the Museum of Tomorrow, do consider setting off early.
Not enough people talk of the food offerings in Rio and they have the some of the best in the country from Michelin-quality restaurants to the latest on-trend casual eateries.
French mixed with Brazilian Flair
Fine dining doesn't get more impressive than at L'Etoile on the 26th floor of the hotel itself. The showstopping French menu is mixed with Brazilian flair to provide a unique offering. The dishes we tried on their tasting menu were all imbued with tropical flair like crispy shrimp filo with tropical tartar and vanilla coconut milk sauce; although they should have used the word jumbo prawns rather than shrimp such was the size of the crustacean. The rack of lamb wasn't quite as tender as the Welsh variety but we did get interesting accompaniments like baroa (a Brazilian root vegetable) gnocchi.
If you want to see the face of contemporary Brazilian cuisine, you should head for Puro in the neighbourhood of Jardim Botânico under the watchful eye of chef Pedro Siqueira.
A lot of restaurants boast about using small independent suppliers and using local produce, but at Puro, they put their money where their mouth is and you can actually click and meet their suppliers on their website. Also, to be commended is the fact they are one of the few restaurants in the city offering an English menu.
More diet-conscious menus
Their dishes do have a Latin America slant as we enjoyed seared tuna with guacamole and toasted corn salad. And for the main course, I would highly recommend duck leg confit which has been dressed with a zesty orange sauce and sweet potato puree.
There are plenty of great culinary options within a short walking distance of the hotel in Leblon. Gula Gula has been enthralling Rio residents for thirty-five years and the popular homemade style of the food means it is often known as a ‘second home’ for most people.
Gula Gula has undergone a major redesign for both the menu and their restaurants offering a more young-and-hip vibe. We sampled light offerings like brie quiche with apricot and a mushroom stroganoff, to make sure we were satiated without ruining our beach bodies.
Find night life in Leblon and Ipanema
In fact, the food offerings along the beach have moved towards more diet-conscious in recent years with the likes of Naturalie Bistrô opening, which offers vegetarian food with no compromise on taste. They have many innovative options on their menu including a deconstructed zucchini lasagna and a bulgar wheat burger.
I would strongly recommend ordering their falafel with a scintillating beetroot hummus dip with black sesame seeds and cilantro.
Finally, there is much nightlife happening around the Leblon and Ipanema area and the best place to enjoy a late-night meal before going to nearby bars and clubs is Pato com Laranja. They have a lovely mixture of casual grilled sandwiches or fancy offerings like steak tartare and grilled octopus.
Read more Lifestyle features on Candid.
Follow Candid Magazine on Instagram, here.