The grandiose eyesore in the Sao Conrado part of Rio de Janeiro – Hotel Nacional that has been closed since 1995 will reopen on December 15, 2016, as Gran Melia Nacional Rio de Janeiro.
The hotel was designed by Oscar Niemeyer (the father of the most famous buildings scattered all over the Brazil and in Brasilia especially) and opened back in 1972. The hotel felt on hard times and have been closed for 21 years.
I have observed this Nacional hotel numerous times while staying at the InterContinental Rio de Janeiro next door that was rebranded few years ago as Golden Tulip (haven’t been back). The building was in very bad shape and you could smell urine when catching a bus nearby.
The Gran Melia was supposed to open in time for the Olympics. As is often the case with hotel projects, it didn’t make the deadline (many other hotels in Rio de Janeiro weren’t finished on time either). The first date that you can now book the Gran Melia Nacional Rio de Janeiro hotel is December 15, 2016.
The location of the hotel is basically between Leblon and Barra, and is somewhat difficult to get to/from. I have never felt unsafe, however, although there is very large favela up in the hills.
I am glad that they have been able to revitalize the hotel as it felt so bad to have that grandiose tower just sit there empty for such a long period of time.
It remains to be seen if there is demand for more hotel capacity in this area. There are other hotel projects that targeted opening before the Olympics that are yet to open (what happened to the Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels?).
The location of the hotel is fine if you are planning to stay put. Moving in the Rio traffic can be chaotic and very time consuming at most times. It is not good location for those that wish to explore the city.