Although Natal  has lots of hotels in the city, the beach at Ponta Negra is much nicer and you’ll find scads of options. If you want more tranquility, consider staying in the nearby coastal beaches of Redinha or Genipabu  (to the north).
The sole advantage to staying in Centro is that prices are (slightly) more affordable. Recently purchased by the American Best Western hotel chain, the only thing odd about Yak Plaza (Av. Presidente Café Filho, Praia do Meio, tel. 84/3202-4224, www.yakplaza.com.br , R$130 d) is its name. Otherwise it’s a very comfortable, if blandly standard, beach hotel that is well located close to Praia dos Artistas and Cidade Alta and with easy access to Ponta Negra. Rooms are large and air-conditioned and there are two pools, one on a pleasant deck overlooking the sea.
The Albergue da Juventude Lua Cheia (Rua Dr. Manoel Augusto Bezerra de Araújo 500, Ponta Negra, tel. 84/3236-3696, www.luacheia.com.br , R$80–90 d) is definitely not what you’d expect a youth hostel in a beach resort to look like. The exterior is built to resemble a medieval castle, complete with towers and a drawbridge. Inside the Middle Ages theme continues with bunks (R$33–43 pp) located in cellar-like dorm rooms that sleep six. Although the excess brick is a little heavy, the place has a weird charm and the staff is friendly. The larger dining area and courtyard garden are quite atmospheric and the bonus is that one of Natal ’s hottest nightspots is located in the “dungeon” (see Nightlife ).
Offering great value, the American-owned Hotel Belo Horizonte (Rua Francisco Gurgel 8852, Ponta Negra, tel. 84/3219-4188, www.belohorizonte.com.br , R$82–129 d) has spotless bright and spacious double and triple rooms decorated in neutral tones. Although it’s located three minutes from the beach, you can view the ocean from the outdoor pool and bar. The staff can help organize buggy tours and trips to surrounding beaches.
Differentiating itself from most of the modern resorts and apart-hotels along Ponta Negra is the intimate and organic Pousada Manga Rosa (Av. Erivan França 240, Ponta Negra, tel. 84/3219-0508, www.mangarosanatal.com.br , R$160–190 d), a stylishly rustic hotel built around a mango tree. Located right on the beach, its multiple balconies and verandas gaze right upon Morro de Careca. Rooms, while fairly standard, have nice decorative flourishes such as artisanal lamps. The overall relaxing atmosphere is complemented by the attentive service.
The most romantic and sophisticated hotel on the entire coast is without a doubt the Manary Praia Hotel (Rua Francisco Gurgel 9067, Ponta Negra, tel. 84/3204-2900, www.manary.com.br , R$480–770 d). “Manary” is a Potiguar term for “well-being,” which is something of an understatement considering the exquisite complex of neocolonial villas that are set amidst exuberant gardens. Aside from a prime beach location, there are two cool blue swimming pools along with waterfalls and fish ponds. The lofty rooms are luxurious with fine linens, carefully chosen art, and wide balconies. The tastefully furnished common areas are simultaneously refined and relaxing. Serving polished contemporary versions of regional cuisine, the restaurant is a gastronomic high point.