Tourists seek hostels in favelas of Rio de Janeiro

In search of lower rates and a unique experience, many brazilian and foreign tourists are planning to stay in hotels, specially hostels in favelas in Rio de Janeiro

In 2011, a journalist from the northeastern state of Ceara, Sidney Pereira Filho, was at the ‘Morro Dona Marta’ (Rio de Janeiro) to report on community tourism. There he met the local tour guide, Salete Martins. It was also when he learned of the ‘La Salette’ project and her family who were opening a hostel, an inexpensive hostel in the favela.

Mr Pereira ended up being the first guest of the ‘Hostel Bosque Santa Marta’, which opened just a month ago in the renowned ‘Morro Dona Marta’, Rio’s first community to receive a Pacifying Police Unit (UPP).

Dona Marta hostel Coffee Break

“I was looking for a place to live.” The hotel’s location in Botafogo, area on the south side near the city center, was another attraction for the journalist. “Besides being a beautiful place, it’s cheaper than renting a property,” said Sidney Son to the ‘Agency Brazil’.

The Salete Martins management has already scheduled two Mexican tourists for the Olympics. “We just started. It’s a little ant job, but I believe that as we are tour guide here in the favela, we’ll get many tourist”.

For the Argentine Huel Di Tomafo, the camaraderie is the biggest excuse to stay in a hostel in the Vidigal community, area south of the city. “You feel in a climate of friendship,” he said. “It’s very cozy. You feel at home. The view you get from the hostel is wonderful. I see Leblon, Ipanema, Copacabana. And in Vidigal favela, I’m facing the sea,” said the Argentine, who works as waiter in a restaurant in Leblon.

Tomafo added that he intends to continue in Rio de Janeiro to attend the Olympic Games, which begin in August. Like the Argentine, many Brazilian and foreign tourists plan to stay in hotels, hostels and hostel installed in pacified communities during the games.

According to the Association of Bed and Breakfast and hostels of the  State of Rio de Janeiro (Accarj), the forecast for occupancy of hostels in the city of Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics reaches 84.7 %. Foreign tourists (70%) are the ones that seek this type of hosting. The organization has 48 members.


At the ‘Home Hostel’ in the community of ‘Cantagalo’ – RJ, Simone Pereira is responsible for the site and she expects to reach full occupancy for the sporting event. The hostel offers breakfast and lunch and sightseeing created to attract more visitors. “Among the points are lookouts in the community, a Northeastern style restaurant and the ‘Favela museum’ ,” said Simone.

Corcovado Hostel bedroom

Adam Newman, an american born owner of ‘Hostel Favela Experience’ in the comunity of Vidigal, expected to occupy the 30 seats of the enterprise he has been operating for a year and a half, up until the Olympics. “We opened the agenda last month and the waiting list is already big,” he said. Majored in the United States in entrepreneurship, Adam Newman has had an inn in Santa Teresa, downtown Rio, but decided to go to the Vidigal to develop a social project in the region.

In partnership with the non-governmental organization (NGO). Local Being Alzira Alleluia, he built the hostel for two and a half years with volunteer help. “Today, the hostel supports the NGO. It generates between R$ 4,000 to R$ 5,000 (roughly $1.000 to $1.250) per month for the NGO.”

Newman also has project for adaptating residential homes into hostels for tourists. “In the World Cup, we received 150 people from around the world. And this year, we will do even more for the Olympics.”

In the pacified community of ‘Babilônia’, the ‘Babylon Rio Hostel’ will receive Dutch, English and volunteers who will participate in the Games. “I’ll get a large group of Dutch before the Olympics and then in Paraolympics. It will be full”, said one of the partners, Bianca Lima, who is a partner in the business with her husband Eduardo Barbosa.

According to the owner, the hostel is equipped with solar panels and has a rainwater capture system, attracting those guests concerned with sustainability.

Another enterpreuner who adopted the Babylonian hill as his home is the Belgian Paul DHUYVETTER, innkeeper Star of Babylon, which opened July last year, with three private rooms occupied at the time by guests from France, Colombia and Czechoslovakia. Paul assured that all vacancies are filled for the Olympic Games. “It’s very fast,” secured by assigning part of the demand to the privileged view of Leme and Copacabana beaches and Corcovado.

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