By Teresa Barnett
The drive from Buzios to The Royal Tulip hotel takes us through Barra Da Tijuca home to the The Tijuca Forest which was declared a National Park in 1961. This tropical rainforest in Rio de Janeiro, claims to be the world's largest urban forest although this claim is in dispute and has a contender to that throne in the form of the urban forest of Johannesburg in South Africa. My mind is transported back almost 16 years to the day when as a student I entered the National Park with a dear friend desperate to explore and after getting terribly lost believed we would never get out. Thankfully that story had a happy ending.
I spot my hotel in the distance; it’s a large structure that can be seen from the main road minutes before we reach it. I’m not really a fan of large hotels, boutique, preferably 50 rooms or less is my natural default. The reception area is large and ideal for business travellers with an H Stern jeweller shop, ideal if you've forgotten to buy the Mrs a decent gift. Check in was a bit laborious but only because my room had been upgraded so that I was on the same floor as my Editor. Andres, the Front of House manager provided us vouchers to obtain a drink of our choice at the hotel bar while we waited. I'm still craving coconut water and promptly order myself one. Waiting in the cool modern air-conditioned bar, I watch the waves of the ocean gently lap the sand on São Conrado beach which is opposite the hotel.
I'm soon handed two key cards to my Executive room and we’re in the lift to the 16th floor. 1608 is where I will be laying my head for a few days at least. To say my room was sizeable is a bit of an understatement but I did feel I was in a cozy homelike atmosphere. My room came with a separate lounge area, a spacious bedroom with a king size bed, walk in wardrobe and shower large enough for 4 people; only when I step in do I realise that I can see directly into the bedroom, I'm grateful there is no one staring back at me.
Room with a view
My lounge in this five-star hotel faces São Conrado beach and from my bedroom I can also see the colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado Mountain. By day it looks solid and imposing but by night it’s as if this monolith is floating in the night and I imagine it walking on water. I am given complementary coconut water and my mini bar is well stocked.
The hotel has a spa which regrettably I did not visit. There is a state-of-the-art gym for the body conscious and for the salad dodgers and carb lovers the hotel's American style burger bar serving decent hamburgers until 1am. The 9th and 10th floors underwent a £2 million refurbishment in 2014 as the England World Cup squad stayed here. I guess after landing in Rio they thought they were in heaven and forgot they had a job to do, that's the only reason I can think of for such a dismal performance.
If the Rainforest which houses a number of attractions to include the Cascatinha Waterfall and the Stone of Gávea, don't wet your sightseeing buds there is the Fashion Mall which is a 5 minute walk away and the beach which you can cut through to from the piano bar; for the energetic and adventurous you could always hire a bike and cycle along the dedicated cycle path to the bars and restaurants of Ipanema, at least you can burn off all those calories on the cycle back!
Av. Aquarela do Brasil
75 - São Conrado
Rio de Janeiro
T: +55 21 3323-2200