Alternately described as bearing an uncanny resemblance to an ark or a watermelon, Hotel Unique (Av. Brigadeiro Luís Antônio 4700, Cerqueira César, tel. 11/3055-4700, www.hotelunique.com.br , R$1,040–1,245) definitely lives up to its name. Designed by hot local architect Ruy Ohtake, the hipper-than-thou hotel doesn’t even have its name advertised on its space-age exterior. What it does have, however, are impeccably designed white-on-white rooms that are equally high-comfort and high-tech.
From your digitally controlled hydro-massage bath you can flip through the endless channels on your plasma TV, dim the lighting, and adjust the view by angling the electronic wooden blinds that cover the porthole windows. The rooftop Skye bar is (justifiably) one of the hippest places in town, not least because of its swimming pool, which, at night, glows with red lights and throbs with soothing underwater DJ tunes.
Another favorite of jet-setters and models—who often fly in directly by helicopter and land on the hotel’s private heliport—is Emiliano (Rua Oscar Freire 384, Cerqueira César, tel. 11/3069-4369, www.emiliano.com.br , R$956–1,739 d). The most exclusive—and most expensive—of Sampa ’s designer hotels, Emiliano is reputed for its stellar service, which begins the minute you arrive and receive a welcome massage. A butler to pack and unpack your luggage, complimentary glasses of wine, and toiletries customized to your skin type are just a few of the pampering details that will leave you feeling utterly spoiled. There are also the rooms themselves: airy, modern, and steeped in creature comforts ranging from ultrasoft Egyptian bed linens to gleaming marble bathroom/spas.
Famous throughout São Paulo  for their highly reputed gourmet restaurants, the enterprising Fasano family added world-class hoteliers to their impressive résumé when they opened Fasano (Rua Vitório Fasano 88, Cerqueira César, tel. 11/3896-4000, www.fasano.com.br , R$714–834 d), which is discreet and clubby with a streamlined 1930s edge. This sophisticated hotel is appealingly understated in comparison with most of the city’s five-star options. Polished wood and supple leather in warm tones of caramel and chocolate abound. Service is outstanding.
As an added bonus, you don’t have to step outside for a bite. Within the hotel itself you’ll find Fasano, considered one of the finest restaurants in Brazil ; Nonno Ruggero, a second multi-starred restaurant, where breakfast is served; and Baretto, a refined jewel of a bar featuring live music.