São Paulo is a sprawling metropolis but most visitors, whether on holiday or on business, tend to stay around the Avenida Paulista, the city’s main thoroughfare, which is its financial heart and main shopping district. The elegant Le Jardins entices visitors with its top-end boutiques and chic restaurants.
It is also a very green city and visitors should take time to discover its many parks, like the beautiful Parque do Ibirapuera. The Vila Madalena district is the place to go for bar-hopping but as Paulistas tend to party late, traffic jams are as much a headache in the wee hours as during the day.
The Emiliano is a soaring glass tower on Rua Oscar Freire, São Paulo’s Golden Mile of luxury shopping. The glass-fronted lobby with the signature muted beiges and creams leads to the Champagne and Caviar Bar serving 80 different champagnes and to the Italian Restaurant with its winter garden.
Each of the 19 floors has two Deluxe Rooms and one Suite. The 900-square-foot Suites feature light Brazilian wood on floors and panels and white upholstery, Eames lounge chairs, well-stocked sub-zero refrigerator drawers and sliding-glass room dividers. Special bed and mattress sizes and a choice of 12 different pillows are available. General Manager Gustavo Filgueiras ([email protected], 011-55-11-3068-4399) will assist with all VIP needs and says celebrities who feel at home here include Giselle Bundchen, Al Gore, Tony Bennett and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.
The 22nd-floor spa with its angular glass walls has a plunge pool, two Ofuro hot tubs, relaxation beds and stunning city views. On arrival, guests are offered a 15-minute welcome massage and can arrange it with Spa Director Ana Elvira (011-55-11-3068-4399, ext. 569), who says it is better to make appointments for treatments ahead of checking in.
Sales Manager Felipe Silva ([email protected], 011-55-11-3068-4301) says no request is too much trouble. “The airlines lost one guest’s bag with the special milk for her baby, which is unavailable in Brazil,” says Silva. “So our chef stepped in and provided her with a batch of fresh almond milk every day.” Contact Head Concierge Tais Fonseca ([email protected], 011-55-113068-4399) to reserve the heliport, have clients met at the airport or to assist with VIP needs like packing and unpacking or booking tables at fashionable restaurants, such as A Sintra.
The Unique Hotel
The Unique Hotel really lives up to its name. It looks like a futuristic Noah’s Ark, portholes and all, and is located in central Le Jardins, close to the business district and Congonhas airport. The immense lobby with its soaring glass front makes you feel small but not isolated thanks to the comfortable couches and armchairs. We thought the low tangle of black velvet knots called The Boa Couch must appeal to the young at heart. The Unique Service reception staff ([email protected], 011-55-11-30055-4700) checks guests in at small tables and offers them chilled champagne.
This is not the place to send those who like conventional hotels; however, clients who like hip trendy design will love it. The 95 rooms are not huge but they are architectural experiences. General Manager Claudia Biasetto ([email protected], 011-55-11-3044-4728) says the best rooms are those on the edges of the building.
In fact, our top picks were the two Broadway Rooms (#203 and 204), where the semi-circular exterior is replicated with half the room curving up to the ceiling. The only thing breaking the sweep is a large plasma TV, which sprouts from the pale parquet floor. The bed is in a recessed area to one side and beside it, a clouded white-glass panel folds up to reveal the bathroom (with a separate wash closet and shower stalls), making it possible to watch the swivel TV from the bath. For the best views, ask for rooms on the 4th and 5th floors.
All rooms have speakers built into the headboard, cell phones that work throughout the hotel, comfortable couches, armchairs, bar cabinets and lights that dim by running your fingers along the fine cord anchoring them to the floor and the ceiling.
Guests are welcome to use the sister property, the Unique Garden Spa, which is 40 minutes away. Ask Spa Director Lilian Francco ([email protected], 011-55-11-4486-8701) or the Unique Service staff, who also act as concierges, to arrange transport and book treatments.
There is a large indoor pool in the basement, but the piéce de resistance is the rooftop Skye Restaurant and Bar with its large outdoor deck area and red swimming pool, which has an underwater music system. We were entranced by the stunning views of Paulista Avenue and the city skyline. In the evenings this is the place to be seen, so advance reservations are a must, especially if guests want to enjoy Chef Emmanuel Bassoeil's eclectic menus ([email protected], 011-55-11-3055-4700).
The Fasano, in the fashionable Le Jardins district, is the epitome of Italian style. The lobby has brown leather armchairs and couches and two fireplaces where open fires blaze in winter. The sunken Baretto Bar further enhances the atmosphere, which is an artistic happening in its own right.
Jean-Philippe Laugier ([email protected], 011-55-11-3896-4086), sales and marketing director, says guests can pre-check in by sending passport and credit card details. General Manager Paulo Antunes ([email protected], 011-955-11-3896-4055) advises booking ahead for São Paulo’s fashion weeks in January and June and Formula 1 in October. He also says that Lenny Kravitz, Naomi Campbell, Yoko Ono, Calvin Klein and Tom Ford like to stay there when they are in town.
The 50 rooms and 10 suites are four per floor and are Superior and Deluxe Rooms, Suites and Deluxe Suites. Uncluttered, and with rich herringbone wood floors, they feature easy chairs and king-size beds, and the Suites have a separate living area. For the best views, ask for rooms from the 15th to 20th floors.
Operations Manager Leonides Sottomaior ([email protected], 011-55-11-3896-4025) can arrange helipad facilities on nearby Avenida Paulista, a good idea for clients who can’t waste time in São Paulo’s traffic snarls. On the 22nd floor, there are hot tubs, a small pool and a spa with a relaxation room. The top-floor techno gym has a complimentary personal trainer.
The Fasano’s restaurant is reputedly one of the best in South America, so contact Sottomaior to make advance reservations for clients. The suede-covered ceiling means voices don’t echo, and the same high level of attention is given to the food. There is a less-formal menu in the Nonno Ruggero, where breakfast is also served.