As one of the world’s most beautiful cities—and Brazil’s number one tourist destination—Rio ’s hotels feel entitled to charge a lot for the (undisputed) pleasure of staying in the Cidade Maravilhosa. For the most part, however, the choices are underwhelming.
Centro  offers few options, and at any rate, it is dead and unsafe at night. The well-located—albeit beachless—neighborhoods of Botafogo and Flamengo  offer an assortment of affordable options. Santa Teresa , a hilly bohemian neighborhood, has been experiencing a major transformation, with more and more intimate bed-and-breakfasts and boutique hotels popping up.
If you want to be where all the action is—night and day—that would be the Zona Sul neighborhoods of Copacabana , Ipanema, and Leblon . Copa is mostly full of mammoth overpriced chains, which, aside from the high-end luxury hotels, offer fairly standard rooms in various states of decay. More tranquil and tony Ipanema and Leblon have a few sophisticated options and a sprinkling of more reasonable alternatives.