In a city where, architecturally, you are competing with signature buildings from the likes of Oscar Niemeyer, it is no mean feat to construct a new hotel that instantly grabs the attention. The Unique does just that. It looks like a giant slice of concrete watermelon and is an instant draw with its gravity-defying, upturned moon-shape structure, with minimal wall supports at either end.
Ruh Ohtake’s cunning design means that the floors get consistently wider the higher they go, with the widest point, and in many ways the focal point of the property, the rooftop pool and bar.
The spacey green copper that adorns the façade of the zero-carbon building is set off by the surrounding mini dark glass sculptures and ochre-coloured cubes that function as a desert urban artwork/garden planted with agaves and palms.
Hotel guests arrive at a sky-high wooden doorway which is opened by the attractive Herchcovitch-attired staff. The lobby is a vast, underused, cathedral-high space housing the adjacent bar, The Wall and Cyber Café, with big comfy sofas and day beds to lounge on.
The real action is up top at the Skye Bar and restaurant surrounding the pool. It’s hotel guests only until 6pm, but after that the fashion-conscious Paulistas (the locals) queue round the block if they haven’t secured VIP guest-list access (there’s a separate Skye Bar entrance at one end of the building).
The scene up there rocks and the Sao Paulo 360-degree skyline competes with that of Manhattan, providing a perfect backdrop for partying. The restaurant serves a delicious mix of Brazilian, French, Italian and Japanese fusion fare. Try the mixed sushi and sashimi plate for two – it slips down a treat. Thankfully, the soundproofing is good, so no problem hearing ambient noise once back in the cocoon of your room, or the sound of helicopters - South America’s biggest city equals big business and even bigger bucks and helicopters constantly hover overhead ferrying the very rich and the very famous from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
Track it down
The hotel is in Jardins (the Beverly Hills of Sao Paulo, but flat). It’s a short stroll to the Ibirapuera Park where the Paulistas promenade, work-out and pose. The Unique is close to both the financial district on Paulista Avenue and Avenue Luis Carlos Berrini and luxury shopping streets such as Rua Oscar Freire. It’s a 15-minute drive to Congonhas for domestic flights and 40 minutes to Guarulhos International Airport.
The helpful multilingual staff are available around the clock at the tiny reception desk in the Lobby where complimentary welcome champagne and juices are offered.
Room to manoeuvre
There are 85 rooms and ten suites. There is nothing straightforward with the Unique. No ubiquitous long hotel corridors here. Guest rooms are carefully choreographed in a series of circles, squares and ellipses. A series of slowly winding curves lead you through each darkly lit floor to heighten the dramatic impact of arriving at your room.
Open the door and you are transported into a light white box with vast porthole window - an electronically-controlled wall panel slides across to close it off. There is gadgetry a plenty here and everything moves by the touch of a couple of buttons that even the tech-challenged can work out.
An opaque half-glass uplit screen separates the bed from the desk and working environment and within it houses a plasma-screen TV that can be swivelled for watching from the bed or at the desk. In fact, a nifty opaque glass (yes, it’s a theme here) shutter pulls up in the bathroom wall allowing you to watch TV while you soak in the tub after a hard day’s work, aided by an inflatable transparent headrest filled with bright green feathers. It’s the attention to little details that makes a difference here.
The plasma TVs, CD/DVD players have direct access to the hotel’s extensive DVD library, complimentary high-speed Wifi, two phone lines with cordless phones and iPod docks come as standard. For meetings and conferences there is a 2,000sq m multipurpose facility for up to 2,200 guests divided in 10 meeting rooms. Full business support on tap.
Along with the open-air rooftop pool there is a basement gym with two indoor pools. Workout stations are state-of-the-art and the layout and wet/dry saunas and chill-out areas are very Zen.
Raid the minibar
Well stocked with mineral water and the rest of the usual alcoholic goodies along with cereal bars, Pringles and nuts.
Room service or Skye Bar restaurant and a choice of a la carte or Café Unique (continental) for $50 Brazilian Reals
$380 to $5,500 per night.
Hotel Unique¸Avenue Brigadeiro Luís Antônio, 4700, Jardins, São Paolo, Brazil (00 55 11 3055 4710; hotelunique.com.br)Reuse content