The Italian-owned Fasano Group is renowned for its stylish, elegant hotels and restaurants, and Fasano Rio has the added glamour of having been crafted by the French designer Philippe Starck. The location, in front of Ipanema Beach, could not be better, and the building's understated facade masks a wealth of quirky style inside. A key theme is the use of Amazonian wood—the reception desk is carved from a huge tree trunk—and modern glass and chrome. Elsewhere, specially
commissioned furnishings re-create the style of the 1950s and 1960s. Unique touches abound, but the real star of the show is the white-marble plunge pool on the rooftop terrace. With breathtaking beach views, it's the ultimate in Rio decadence. A poolside bar and restaurant serves wonderful tropical juices, light meals, and cocktails. Egyptian cotton sheets and goose-down pillows are among the other indulgent touches. The on-site Italian restaurant, Fasano Al Mare, has won major awards, and the intimate lounge bar Londra, which blends English punk-rock attitude with Italian glamour, has a long waiting list.