I Was Blown Away By The Z.Bra Hostel in Rio de Janeiro


Last week, I scheduled a favela tour with bealocal.com and the driver told me to meet him at the nearby Z.Bra Hostel in Leblon. I’ve never stepped foot inside a hostel in my life and have never thought about staying in one. I have heard horror stories about hosteling and bed bugs are a big concern for me.

The neighborhood of Leblon is very quaint and it’s one of the nicest areas in Rio de Janeiro. There are bike sharing programs and lovely fountains surrounded by boutique vendors.

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I saw the signage for the Z.Bra hostel and the sliding glass door entry way.


I stepped inside and was blown away by the modern décor and almost felt like I was in a W hotel living room lobby.

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There was a small check-in desk and a whiteboard filled with daily activities.

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I asked the front desk agent if this was the right place for the favela tour pick up and he said, “Yes, are you Jamison?” I said, “Yes I am” and he said that he was expecting me. I tried to inquire more about the favela tour, but he said that it’s an outside company and they notified him that I was to be picked up from the Z.Bra hostel.

I arrived 30 minutes early and spent some time chatting it up with a lot of people in the lobby area. Some were just lounging, checking-out, and having breakfast. I thought that was cool since I didn’t mingle with a single person in Rio prior to this.

I inquired about the activities board and he said that a lot of guests enjoy the parties, tours, and group bonding. I looked around the hostel and found a cool board that had guest feedback and a Wi-Fi code. I asked if I may use the Wi-Fi and he said sure, no problem! He even invited me for breakfast in the lobby which was usually for guests.

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This kind of hospitality makes me feel welcome to a new city and the people in Rio are just very friendly in generally.

I inquired about the rates and he told me for an 8 bed mixed dorm, it would cost R$60.00. I was floored when he wrote it down for me since I just paid R$616.00 for my room at the Sheraton Rio. There were other rates, such as a double room for R$200.00 which is still cheaper than the Sheraton Rio. A standard suite was only R$275.00.


If you’re looking for cheap accommodations for the 2014 World Cup or 2016 World Olympics, I would probably give this hostel a try since hotel rates will be up the roof.

My driver was late and I asked the front desk agent if I could borrow his skateboard that guests can borrow during their stay. He told me that it was fine and even watched me skate around the block. This was an awesome experience even though I did not stay overnight in the hostel.

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This really makes me think twice about hostel accommodations. Are hostels usually this nice? What are your experiences?


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6 Comments on "I Was Blown Away By The Z.Bra Hostel in Rio de Janeiro"

  1. I’ve stayed in hostels in a number of countries around the world. They are definitely more social environments which I very much enjoy when traveling solo, especially where there might be language barriers. They aren’t always nice (Anchorage was my worst recently) but they can be incredible. And they’re nearly universally cheap.

    Some of my best were in Sydney, Odessa and Luxembourg.

  2. I stay at hostels about 50% of the time that I travel solo, primarily for the social aspect and sometimes for cost savings. It makes me cringe sometimes when the cost of internet alone at some big hotels is the cost of a hostel bunk (which includes free wi-fi).

    I don’t mind some of the trade-offs of hostels, like basic bedding or remembering to pack my own soap, but I’ll give you the heads up that a good night’s sleep is hit or miss. Everyone keeps different hours at hostels and there will be people coming in from bars at 3am with others getting ready for early morning activities. Pack some earplugs to cover up lingering noises from hallways and common rooms.

    • I’m getting older and I barely even stay out after 9pm nowadays! A good night’s sleep is what I really need the most, but mixing it up on a long trip could be beneficial and cost efficient.

  3. It does depend on where you go, but they’re super nice now compared to what they used to be, especially in Europe. Wombats is a great chain of hostels. Last summer I was hotel-hopping between Radissons, Park Inns, and Park Plazas in Berlin and actually couldn’t wait to get back to the Wombats hostel because I was sick of hotel life. I’ve stayed at all of theirs, and the Budapest one is probably the nicest. Portugal and Spain also have really nice ones, from my experience. Definitely try them out sometime. You meet so many people and get a much better taste for local culture.

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