The 7 best budget hotels in Rio for an affordable stay without compromising on culture

Doug Gray
From the moment you walk through Selina's doorway it is impossible not to be struck by the all-pervading cool beyond

Anyone heading to Rio for whom a beachfront location in Ipanema or Copacabana is not essential will be rewarded with hip hotel options in interesting neighbourhoods filled with great restaurants, bars and nightlife. Lapa is one such spot, an easy enough drive from Copacabana but on the doorstep of Centro’s rich cultural bounty and a rootsy samba scene, where a stay in cool Selina or more family-friendly Villa Galé – complete with a large pool – will offer far more than sandy toes and sun tans. Here's our pick of the best budget hotels in Rio, for an affordable stay that doesn't compromise on culture.

Selina Lapa Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8Telegraph expert rating

From the moment you walk through Selina’s huge dark-wood doorway it is impossible not to be struck by the all-pervading cool beyond. A large, black-and-white mural of a sunglass-wearing face edged in gold sets the tone, likewise the bar with its mix of Art Deco and speakeasy glamour, pillars and leather sofas. The glassed-in booth of the on-site radio station completes a sharp first impression. The 58 standard rooms are unquestionably comfortable, but for a treat opt for one of the suites, which come with projectors and record players. In the evenings, enjoy a refreshing Jaco (gin and tonic with honey and rosemary) on the festooned roof terrace or settle down to a classic movie in the 25-seat cinema. Read expert review From £39 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

• An insider guide to Rio de Janeiro

Vila Gala Hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Vila Galé Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

8Telegraph expert rating

Vila Galé is a triumph of location and style, with a buzzing position at the scenic end of the city's bohemian Lapa district. Historic images of Rio enhance the bygone aesthetic in the lobby as well as the Preservado section rooms, while the modern Tower annexe brings things right up to date. Stay in the former for a touch more style; the bigger rooms and their lovely high ceilings are found to the right of the swimming pool they overlook. There's also a small spa for guests to make the most of, as well as a gym and sauna. Read expert review From £61 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

• The best luxury hotels in Rio de Janeiro

Mama Shelter hotel Rio de Janeiro

Mama Shelter Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7Telegraph expert rating

Mama Shelter is a laid-back option that fits naturally with the colourful charms of the Santa Teresa's bohemian vibes. It doesn't feel like an ordinary hotel; a feeling enhanced by the wildly colourful murals around reception and the incongruous ‘naughty’ items for sale on the (top) shelves. Huge windows mean that higher rooms look out over the hillside and down to Guanabara Bay. The location is far from the beaches and many of the staple Rio attractions but leafy strolls and lively treats are on hand, including classic neighbourhood bars Mineiro and Gomes. Read expert review From £50 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

• The best restaurants in Rio de Janeiro

Casa Amarelo, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Casa Amarelo

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7Telegraph expert rating

Set on the hillside of Rio's pretty Santa Teresa neighbourhood, this striking, yellow 1904 mansion represents all that is great about the area's eclectic architecture. An antique lift trundles guests up from a street-level corridor and into the heart of the eccentric property, where Gelis' own Robert le Herós fabrics take centre stage. The mansion's architectural quirks inform every room, from the fantastically high ceilings to huge, intricately tiled bathrooms, aided by antique furniture, chandeliers and clever use of colour. The small, attractive swimming pool is tucked away at the back of the property with views down to the Metropolitan Cathedral and Municipal Theatre. Read expert review From £39 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

• The best things to do in Rio de Janeiro

Grand Mercure Rio de Janeiro Riocentro hotel, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Grand Mercure Rio de Janeiro Riocentro

Jacarepaguá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7Telegraph expert rating

This Grand Mercure – modern, stylish but somewhat isolated from the rest of Rio – might not be an obvious choice, but it's ideally located for the regular international music festivals and sports events in the city. The location also has an exciting sprouting of bars and restaurants, and the ever-present miles of beach. Rooms are calming and extremely comfortable, as well as ultra-modern. They boast balconies with views across to the mountains or out onto the lake. The concept of beautifully designed furniture and uncomplicated decoration is continued throughout. The restaurant is laid out around a shaded terrace overlooking palm-lined gardens, creating a relaxing space for a meal. Read expert review From £59 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

• The most romantic hotels in Rio de Janeiro

Arena Leme Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

Arena Leme Hotel

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

7Telegraph expert rating

The Arena is the most serene, but far from sleepy, accommodation in the traditional neighbourhood of Leme, where Art Deco flourishes continue to peer through the more modern apartment buildings. It overlooks one of the city’s few remaining ‘those in the know’ beaches, where the sands are less crowded and fishermen cast off the huge rock at its eastern edge. The hotel’s communal areas have a sophisticated finish and the whole experience is as laid-back as you would hope for given the setting. The rooftop pool is a bonus, while corner rooms make the most of the hotel’s surroundings, looking out to Sugarloaf Mountain or the length of Copacabana Beach. Read expert review From £73 per night Check availability Rates provided by Booking.com

Prices cited on Boooking.com are subject to change in high season and during popular holidays and events.

Contributions by Georgia Grimond