After a planned trip to the Maldives got hit by flight rescheduling hell, as well as some doubts around international testing and quarantine, I decided to head back to Brazil for a recent holiday.
This time, however, I felt it would be good to give the beaches and bars of Rio de Janeiro a little bit of a break, and made my way over to São Paulo, the country’s economic capital, instead.
Despite being such a vibrant metropolis, there aren’t very many hotel bookable on points, although the few that do exist usually have great locations. As we’ll see, the Renaissance São Paulo far exceeded my expectations.
In This Post
- High Floor Two Double Room
- Club Lounge
- Other Facilities
Renaissance São Paulo – Booking
I booked my stay here just before the Marriott Bonvoy’s much-lamented move to dynamic pricing. As a Category 4 property, the Renaissance São Paulo had previously run a very reasonable 20,000–30,000 Marriott Bonvoy points.
When one considers that a night here, on average, runs between US$225–300 and is charged in that currency (instead of the local Brazilian real), I felt this to be a great use of a paltry 55,000 Bonvoy points. I just clicked through on my Marriott Bonvoy app and was booked without hassle within seconds.
During my dates, rooms were going to cost US$244 per night, so I scored a redemption value of 1.1 cents per point – not as knockout of a rate as I might’ve preferred, but still above our current valuation of 0.9 cents per point.
Renaissance São Paulo – Location
São Paulo reminds me my birthplace of Toronto. Indeed, if the signs weren’t in Portuguese and there weren’t random tropical florae and faunae mucking about, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate Sampa (as the locals call it) from the Big Smoke.
Grey concrete and bustling cosmopolitan life abound everywhere, and because I chose to stay in the heart of the business quarter, there were lots of shopping centres, skyscrapers, and smartly-dressed professionals in tropical business casual wear.
As always in Brazil, there can be concerns around safety, but I walked around the area with no real problems. And for those of you who worship Ronaldo, he has an entire exhibit dedicated to him at the Museu do Futebol directly north of the hotel.
Renaissance São Paulo – Check-in
The front of the hotel isn’t as pretty as the interior, but there’s plenty of space out front for a taxi or Uber to drop you off. I definitely recommend the latter, as it’s quite cheap and highly reliable.
On the other hand, the lobby is truly beautiful. For the first time in South America, I felt like I was walking into a modern luxury property, with its accents of gold and black marble.
The lobby boasts multiple seating areas where you can kick back and relax, as well as all-day bites and a sushi bar.
There’s also dedicated areas to sit and talk, and as a Renaissance-branded hotel, an entertainment Ambassador who acts like a concierge and can recommend local activities or get you dinner reservations.
After taking all this in, I made my way to the front desk. The staff, and indeed most of the guests, were quite helpful and spoke excellent English, and had no issues thanking me for my Titanium Elite status.
I was offered the choice of a larger room on a lower floor, or a room with two double beds on the top level. I opted for the latter with apologies for my broken Portuguese, which I am now studying with some intensity on Duolingo.
Before wandering upstairs, I took in the sights of the first floor, appreciating how much open space there was for guests and how meticulously spotless it had been kept.
Then, I made my way over to the beautiful circular elevator arrangement and ascended to get a look at the room.
Renaissance São Paulo – High Floor Two Double Room
Room 2506 is on the hotel’s top floor. But before I even got to my room, I knew I was in São Paulo when I saw the hotel boasts a helipad.
Brazilian traffic knows no equal on Earth, and São Paulo traffic is the apex predator of that particular species. Therefore, the wealthier patrons who might stay here need to be able to come and go at their leisure.
As a North American, it’s a little exotic for me, but fascinating to see such a feature at a high-end property.
Then it was time to enter my room.
My lodgings were a bit on the smaller side, though by no means as cramped as some European hotels can be.
The walls also had a decent thickness, so I didn’t have to listen to the shenanigans of my neighbours, nor impose my own on them.
Despite the modernity of the lobby, I could tell the rooms must be a little older due to their connecting door design.
The beds were nothing to write home about. Maybe sizes in Latin America are different, as they definitely felt bigger than the double, twin, or even full-size mattresses I’ve owned, but not as big as a queen.
There was also a little desk area to place a laptop if the need strikes.
The other side of the desk and television area revealed a snack tray and minibar.
While many hotels, including luxury properties, have discontinued these in the era of Uber Eats (or Instafood as they use in Brazil), the added convenience, albeit at ludicrous markups, still went appreciated by my intoxicated 5am alternate ego.
Plus, the Nespresso machine did wonders for me when recovering in the morning from said sorry state.
The bathroom was probably the nicest part of the entire room, complete as it was with all-marble accents, including a shower and a large tub.
The toilet setup included a bidet. I hadn’t seen this item at any lower-end properties in Brazil before, so its inclusion was a surprise bonus.
Renaissance São Paulo – Breakfast
Breakfast was served in the hotel’s Club Lounge, located on the 23rd floor, from 7am to 10:30am on weekdays and from 7am to 11:00am on weekends.
I felt it was “standard fare” for most Latin American hotels, but did feel that while the individual dishes may have been similar to those served elsewhere, the quality was much higher-end.
For example, the croissants tasted somewhat fresh, while the ham didn’t have a strange sickly sheen as I had seen at other hotels. Items such as the pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) looked more fulsome than some I’d seen at restaurants in the city.
Served buffet-style, I still felt that the pastries were the highlight of the offering, though the self-serve espresso was a much-needed pick-me-up even after the three previous Nespressos in my room. If only it could cure headaches.
Renaissance São Paulo – Club Lounge
The hotel’s Club Lounge to anyone who pays for lounge access as part of their room rate, or to Marriott Bonvoy Platinum Elite members and above.
One of the nicer elements of this hotel is that access to the lounge appeared to be all day long, and there were no locks or other barriers on any drink cabinets, should you desire a beer or Guaraná, my favourite soft drink, at any time you wish.
The lounge also hosts a happy hour between 5pm and 8pm every day, during which there is a large assortment of canapés and heartier fare. You could easily eat an entire dinner meal here without issue.
I found the quality to be quite good, a solid cut of picanha above anything with the name “Maple Leaf” in it in Canada.
Renaissance São Paulo – Dining
The hotel boasts 24-hour room service, if that’s your kind of meal. There’s also the lounge bar, which serves food from 6am to 11pm daily, and includes a sushi bar.
Sushi is a huge deal in São Paulo due to the enormous Japanese diaspora residing there, so I suspect theirs is pretty good, but I didn’t try it.
I did go to their in-house restaurant, however, named Terraço Jardins. It was one of the prettiest places I’ve ever dined in.
Be advised that it has odd hours, which I was warned sometimes shift at random according to public holidays or bookings for special events. Make sure to check before you go.
I had a local seafood stew. Alas, it looked much nicer than it tasted, but it was still palatable, just lacking a little bit of heat and seasoning for my taste.
Once again, I kicked myself for my lack of Portuguese because while the manager was fluent in English, my waiter was not and I didn’t feel like making a scene.
Renaissance São Paulo – Other Facilities
This hotel boasts an entire spa level on the third floor, which looked and smelled incredible.
There’s also a gymnasium, but my blurry pictures don’t do it justice. There’s a personal trainer on staff, who was considerably larger than me and looked like he knew jiu-jitsu, so I took his friendly advice to not take more photos while he was in session with a client.
Instead, I made my way over to the rooftop pool area. It was deserted, perhaps due to the overcast weather, which was cold by local standards.
I was pleasantly surprised by my stay at the Renaissance São Paulo. For a while, I’d resigned myself to the notion that the luxury hotel concept had been killed by COVID, and that only the ultra-wealthy would ever get to be treated like valued guests again.
Instead, I found a well-designed and renovated hotel with an excellent location.
The hard product was highly competitive, even if it was a bit older. The hotel staff were exquisitely helpful and accommodated all my requests at all hours of the day and night.
I’ll definitely be returning to the Renaissance São Paulo next time I’m in Sampa, which will hopefully be later this year.