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When the Copacabana Palace Hotel opened on August 13, 1923, it was the only luxury hotel in South America. With the legalization of gambling in Brazil in the 20s, the Copa, as it was called, became a magnet for international celebrities.

General Manager reads the Golden Book with Lady Di's signature.
General Manager reads the Golden Book with Lady Di's signature.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The general manager proudly shows guests the Golden Book which chronicles the signatures of royalty, business and political leaders, stars of stage and screen, music and sport, who have stayed at the landmark hotel.

Royalty & movie stars

Regal visitors have ranged from Edward the Prince of Wales and George the Duke of York (who later became King Edward VIII and King George VI) to Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The signatures on the page after Chuck and Di's belong to another couple who also split apart: Nelson and Winnie Mandela.

One of the first guests to sign the Golden Book in the 1940s, was Errol Flynn, who returned again in the 50s. Other well-known guests from the 40s include Walt Disney, Bing Crosby, Ed Sullivan and Orson Welles. In the 50s, the Who's Who of celebrities continued with Nelson Rockefeller, John Wayne, Edward G. Robinson and Mary Pickford.

Big name performers & film makers

Some of the guests, during the 60s and 70s, performed in the Copacabana Palace Hotel's Golden Room: The Supremes, The Platters, Paul Mauriat, Dionne Warwick and Charles Aznavour. In '74, Gene Kelly penned: "Happy times here for me and my children."

The venerable hotel also served as a home-away-from-home for film producers and stars during the 80s and early 90s: Gina Lollobrigida, Sonia Braga, Richard Dreyfuss, Ben Kingsley, Roger Moore and Brian de Palma... to name only a few.

When Orient-Express Hotels purchased the 225-room hotel in September 1989, they began a $40 million US refurbishment program. When it was completed, the Copacabana Palace had the charm of the old-style hotel, with modern comforts. It is now the Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel.

People sunbathe around pool.
People sunbathe around pool.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Famous beach

Located on Avenida Atlantica, 10 minutes from downtown, and 20 minutes from the International Airport, the Copacabana Palace is well-situated. Copacabana's famous crescent beach, with its black and white mosaic sidewalk border, is just across the road.

The hotel has a beach service, which provides guests with towels, chairs, umbrellas and staff to guard their valuables while they go in for a dip. Drinks and light refreshments can also be ordered and charged to the room.

The Pergula Restaurant offers poolside alfresco meals, as well as afternoon tea, while the elegant Cipriani serves North Italian nouvelle cuisine.

Dazzling celebrations

Both Carnival and New Year's Eve are gala affairs at the hotel. In 1993, the Copacabana Palace staged its first major carnival ball in decades. Hundreds came to the black-tie event, including the American director, Francis Ford Coppola, who was visiting Rio for the first time, with actor Robert de Niro.

Every year, new pages are added to the celebrity-studded history of the Copacabana Palace Hotel. To see for yourself, just ask the general manager to show you the new signatures in the Golden Book!


Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel

More things to see and do in Brazil:

Porcao - Churrascaria Restaurant in Rio

Brazil Amazon Cruise

Parintins Brazil Boi Bumba Festival

Iguaçu Falls Brazil

Fishing for Piranhas in the Amazon