Finding somewhere to stay in São Paulo is rarely a problem and, as there are several areas where hotels are concentrated, you should get settled in quickly. The prices of hotels vary enormously throughout the year, with hefty discounts offered during the quieter summer months of January and February. Weekend discounts of up to fifty percent are often given, especially at the better hotels that otherwise cater largely to business executives. If making an online reservation directly with the hotel, compare the rates on the Portuguese- and the English-language versions of the website – the former often are substantially lower.
The best hotels are found in the affluent southwest of the city and, though expensive, their rooms cost less than comparative spots in Rio. With some exceptions, budget and mid-priced places are located around downtown, in parts of the city where visitors, especially women, may feel distinctly uncomfortable walking alone at night. The dangers, however, are often more imaginary than real and, by simply being alert and taking taxis late at night, you should have no problems.
Lots of inexpensive and mid-priced hotels are in the traditional centre of São Paulo, around Praça da República and Avenida São Luís. Budget around R$25 for a taxi each way to the restaurants and bars of Vila Madalena and surrounding neighbourhoods.
São Paulo’s traditionally Japanese bairro, Liberdade, has a few low- and mid-priced hotels worth considering if you’re on a budget – not least because the area is one of the safest parts of central São Paulo. Although the majority of people staying here are visiting Asian businessmen, other guests are made to feel just as welcome.
Rua Augusta and around
This area offers old-fashioned five-star comfort, as well as some more affordable options, especially on Rua Augusta. The hotels here are convenient for the city centre, the international banks of Avenida Paulista and the fashionable Jardins. While the area is quite safe, walking along Rua Augusta late at night can be unpleasant, as you’re likely to be accosted by men touting on behalf of sleazy nightclubs.
The south side of Avenida Paulista marks the beginnings of Jardins, a wealthy residential neighbourhood that houses some of the city’s most fashionable (and expensive) shops and restaurants. It makes an excellent base as it’s relatively safe by day and night, and with some excellent accommodation options.
Itaim Bibi and Pinheiros
The stretch along Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima that links Itaim Bibi with Pinheiros is a rapidly expanding business district. While the number of hotels here is increasing, they’re mostly bland (but well-equipped) franchises of international chains. At night these areas offer plenty of street life, thanks to the many excellent restaurants and clubs, and walking around feels quite secure. They are also within easy reach of the bars and clubs of Vila Madalena.