Brazilian accommodations range from battered, windowless cells to sumptuous, seaside guesthouses, with many possibilities in between. Nearly every pousada (guesthouse), hostel and hotel serves some form of café da manha (breakfast). Private rooms with communal bathrooms are called quartos. Rooms with a private bathroom are apartamentos.
At the bottom end of the price scale, you'll find cheap hotel rooms outside of major cities and resort areas. Expect a bare room with nothing but a bed and maybe a fan.
Midrange listings are usually comfortable but not stylish, with decent beds, air-conditioning, hot-water bathrooms and cable TV. The top end offers more spacious digs, with maybe a veranda, a pool and other amenities. Many midrange and top-end hotels have safes in the rooms for storing valuables.
Youth hostels in Brazil are called albergues da juventude. The HI-affiliated Federação Brasileira de Albergues da Juventude (www.hostel.org.br) has more than 90 hostels in the country, most with links on the website. There are also scores of private hostels. Rio is by far the country’s hostel capital, with over 130 at last count. Quality varies considerably, but they’re generally good places to meet Brazilian and foreign travelers.
A dorm bed in a hostel costs between R$40 and R$75.
Brazil’s hotels range from the good, modern and luxurious, to shabby and moldy. At the more expensive places, taxes of 15% are often added to the price. Prices typically rise by about 30% during the high season, and room rates double or even triple during Carnaval and around New Year’s Eve. Hotels in business-oriented cities such as São Paulo, Curitiba, Porto Alegre and Brasília usually give discounts for stays on weekends.
One popular type of remote-area accommodations is the jungle lodge, which caters to tourists in or on the edge of the forest. Though sometimes pricey, you’re paying for the experience of lodging in the rainforest, rather than amenities – which are midrange at best. The largest number of jungle lodges are found outside of Manaus.
A pousada typically means a small family-owned guesthouse, though some hotels call themselves ‘pousadas’ to improve their charm quotient. Pousadas can cost as little as R$140 for a rustic double and as much as R$500 for a lavish option.
It’s possible to rent holiday, short- or long-term apartments through a local holiday rental agencies. Air BnB (www.airbnb.com) has thousands of listings across Brazil for finding rooms or apartment rentals.
In tourist centers, especially Rio, it’s wise to make reservations during July (school holidays), and from Christmas to Carnaval. The same holds for any vacation mecca (eg Búzios, Ilha Bela, Morro de São Paulo) on weekends, and anywhere during major festivals. For prime peak times (eg Carnaval), make contact months ahead.