One of Rio's Most Iconic Celebrity Hangouts Is Turning 100

Copacabana Palace celebrates a big birthday this year — and you can join the party.

Exterior of the beachside Copacabana Palace hotel in Rio, Brazil
Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Palace overlooks the iconic Copacabana Beach. Photo:


Of all the world’s ultra-luxe hotels, few can claim a more consistently stylish track record than the Copacabana Palace. Its guest list includes generations of movie stars and royals, all of whom made it their go-to stay in Rio de Janeiro — including the future King Edward VIII, in 1931, and actors like Marilyn Monroe and Brigitte Bardot. Even Walt Disney checked in, ahead of the Brazilian premiere of "Fantasia."

Black and white photo of Brigitte Bardot holding a parrot
Brigitte Bardot in Rio in 1964.

Bettman/Getty Images

In 2023, the property — now operated by Belmond — marks 100 years overlooking the famed Copacabana Beach. In addition to a massive New Year’s Eve party, centennial events include “Tunnel of Time,” a special anniversary edition of the hotel’s Carnival ball, on February 18. Throughout the year, there will be events with international guest chefs, a gala dinner, and, in November, a commemorative book by travel writer Francisca Mattéoli, whose family have been patrons of the Copacabana Palace since it opened.

The hotel has also planned a multimedia revamp of its Hall of Fame corridor, where portraits of illustrious guests — Princess Diana, Antonio Banderas, and Mick Jagger among them — adorn the walls. Read on for a timeline of magical moments in Copacabana Palace history.

Black and white historic photo of diners at the Copacabana hotel
Diners in the hotel's Golden Room.

Picture Kitchen/Alamy

It Happened at the Copa

1923: Shortly after the hotel’s opening, King Albert I of Belgium becomes the first celebrity guest.

1928: Brazilian president Washington Luís is shot on the property by his mistress. (He survived.)

1933: The hotel is the setting for "Flying Down to Rio," the first on-screen pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

1941: Walt Disney meets J. Carlos — creator of the animated parrot Zé Carioca — during a stay.

1942: After a bad breakup with Dolores del Rio, Orson Welles throws his room’s furniture out of the window.

1946: The casino is converted into a concert hall after a national gambling ban.

1959: Marlene Dietrich checks in during a cabaret tour and records the live album "Dietrich in Rio."

1989: The hotel is sold to Orient-Express Hotels (now Belmond).

A dining room overlooking a pool at the Copacabana Palace hotel
Cipriani at the Copacabana Palace.

Courtesy of Copacabana Palace, a Belmond Hotel

1994: Orient-Express opens an outpost of its beloved Cipriani restaurant.

2006: The Rolling Stones host a free concert on the beach in front of the hotel that is attended by nearly 1.5 million people.

2008: The Copacabana Palace is designated a site of cultural patrimony.

2012: The hotel completes a major renovation, expanding the lobby and remodeling multiple floors of guest rooms.

A version of this story first appeared in the February 2023 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "A Century of Glamour."

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