Design Hotels' Project Rio Debuts In Time For 2014 FIFA World Cup

“Some people are born to throw parties. Cities are no different.” The metropolis known for Carnaval, Festival, Rock in Rio, and now as a host city to the 2014 FIFA World Cup—Rio de Janeiro joins Tulum and Mykonos as the setting of Design Hotels’ third “pop-up” endeavor, Project Rio. Located in the neighborhood of Santa Teresa, the Project’s two hotels—The Club House and The Guesthouse—are nestled in the hills with views of the Guanabara Bay. The concept behind Design Hotels' pop-up is to immerse guests in the culture and energy of the locale while providing luxury service. Project Rio keeps this up allowing visitors to live as the cariocas—the locals—do with authentic cuisine, exposure to local art and music, and of course, joining in the “football frenzy.”

As the World Cup kicked off last Thursday, all eyes were on Brazil. Design Hotels is honoring the soccer event of the year by hosting a five-week party from June 9 to July 15. The Club House, a five-bedroom and one-bungalow colonial estate, is the Design Hotels official headquarters during the celebration and Project Rio’s party central. The opening soirée on June 15 fires up at sundown offers a first taste of Brazil with catering by Pret A Diner founded by KP Kofler—a catering partner for the stadiums in four of the World Cup host cities—and serving up traditional cocktails as well as rums from the region.

In addition to a pop-up hotel, on June 22 The Club House also becomes part pop-up boutique. Shop Latitude, an online store specializing in unique travel finds, sets up shop with its Brazilian curation.

Steps away from The Club House is The Guest House Maria Santa Teresa—a serene six-room retreat set on a tiered hillside property. The setting completely envelops visitors as lush tropical vegetation surrounds the hotel and the occasional toucan or monkey can be seen. Another true pop-up hotel, the Maria Santa Teresa will be open through December after which it will be demolished and re-incarnated. Design Hotels, however, has proven twice before that it values the temporary.

“We launched the Design Hotels Projects as experiments in creating physical manifestations of our values and vision,” says founder and CEO of Design Hotels Claus Sendlinger.

Conceived in collaboration with Hans Georg Näder, The Guest House integrates local art and culture into hotel experience. “My vision for Maria Santa Teresa is to create a microcosm of the city’s best, while being a rare and intimate sanctuary in setting, spirit, and service,” says Näder. With plenty of leisure space, an intimate cigar lounge, and topped with sun-drenched swimming pool and terrace bar, the hotel captures the laidback side of Rio while maintaining the richness of Design Hotels Projects. Original details of the building’s colonial design, such as the coved ceiling moldings and exposed brick, are set in contrast with updates like modern lighting and a bronzed stone wall. Designer Anja Müller combines vintage and new at Maria Santa Teresa and the effect gives a homey, relaxed atmosphere—like vacationing in your own home, but with the full hospitality experience.

Millions descended upon Brazil this week for World Cup mania and Design Hotels didn’t miss a beat. Reveling in the vitality of Rio de Janeiro, this third pop-up project is a celebration of everything the party city has to offer. Authentic food, drink, local art and music—Project Rio is an opportunity for globetrotters to experience the “real” Rio with space to sit back and take it all in. 

Photography: Design Hotels