The best and most luxurious of Rio's many hotels are on the coast, in breathtakingly beautiful beachside neighborhoods—Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and Sao Conrado. Very few hotels are situated in Centro, but nearby Santa Teresa is experiencing a boom in bed-and-breakfasts, and many boutique-hotels are springing up there. If you're staying for at least a week, consider renting an apartment.
Reservations are recommended year-round, and they're absolutely crucial in summer months (December-March). The time of Carnival, especially, requires advance planning: Some city visitors book rooms up to a year in advance of the pre-Lenten festival. Room rates triple in price during this time. In general, most hotels offer lower weekend rates.
In Brazil, motels are for rent-by-the-hour rooms, not overnight stays. Some motels, however—including Vip's (http://www.vipsmotel.com.br) on Avenida Niemeyer in Leblon—are very luxurious and may offer better overnight deals than the five-star-hotels.
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