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Hotel Review: Hotel Unique in São Paulo, Brazil  March 14, 2016 – 11:31 am
Photo Porthole windows are part of the design at the hotel. Credit Hotel Unique


From about $400 for a standard room — that’s during non-World Cup days. The hotel is sold out for the tournament, mid-June to mid-July, according to its website.


São Paulo is an intimidating city, with traffic, crowds and crime mixing with a vibrant social and cultural scene. When it comes to hotels, there is a slew of standard business properties, but Hotel Unique, renovated in late 2012, stands apart primarily because of its innovative design. Known locally as the “Watermelon” for its striking crescent shape, Hotel Unique tries, and mostly succeeds, to be a combination of quirky and luxurious. The Brazilian architect Ruy Ohtake designed the 95-room hotel to look like the hull of a ship, and its porthole windows are a delightfully evocative touch. Inside, the décor is stylish and modern (high ceilings, dark elevators) with a hint of eccentricity, like the big, blue, circular cushion that serves as a sitting area in the lobby. At first glance, it resembled something a dog might sleep on; in reality it was remarkably comfortable.

Photo One of the property's 95 rooms. Credit Hotel Unique


There is plenty of concrete in the sprawling city, but Hotel Unique is in the glorious Jardim Paulista, an area of gritty streets and idyllic green spaces like the lovely Ibirapuera Park, a short walk away.

The Room

Alas, my tiny standard room did not feature the famous curved walls of rooms on the side of the half-moon structure. Still, the room, all black and white, felt sleek in a generic Ikea-ish sort of way. The electronics were excellent: a DVD player, an iPod-docking alarm clock, speakers embedded in the headboard and a satellite-enabled TV with an abundance of channels.

The Bathroom

If I wanted to talk to someone who was in the bathroom (who doesn’t want that?), I could have heaved open a garage-door-style divider separating the room’s spaces. Another cool-but-less-functional bonus was the towel-warming rack, though my towel came out more tepid than toasty.

Photo The Wall, one of the hotel’s bars. Credit Hotel Unique


Checking in was a pleasing experience, starting with the free Champagne I was offered at the desk and continuing on to the tour of the hotel’s quirky interior offered by the receptionist, and the coconut water delivered to my room just minutes after I put down my suitcase. The gym is well stocked with modern basic equipment, if a bit cramped, but there are two side-by-side heated indoor pools bathed in colored lights and complete with massage-jetted loungers carved into the pool’s stone walls.


Other than the hotel’s shape and, well, the water slide (I couldn’t resist), the most memorable aspect of Hotel Unique was its rooftop bar and restaurant, Skye, with stunning views of the city and a cavalcade of drink choices including many variations on the caipirinha. The menu has plenty of traditional Brazilian dishes as well as Continental cuisine. My room-service breakfast of eggs, pastries and jams arrived in 26 minutes (four minutes ahead of schedule) but was largely forgettable, save for the various types of fruit juice on offer.


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