Sao Paulo is a massive city, the largest in all of the Americas with 11.32 million residents, which makes New York City look small at only 8.4 million. It is also home to the largest number of private helicopters in the world due to the horrible traffic.
We decided that we wanted to stay out near the airport during our time in Sao Paulo so we weren’t going to be stuck in traffic trying to get to the airport. Plus, it worked out well for us that there were no “must see” items, so being removed from the action was a non-issue.
Getting to the Monaco Convention Hotel
We caught a bus from Paraty and arrived at the main bus terminal in Sao Paulo. From there, we decided to catch a taxi since it was late and we didn’t want to deal with public transit in a city which we did not know.
Not surprisingly, the taxi mafia was in full force. There are government regulated taxi stands where you pay your fare at a booth, not to the driver themselves. I had the address for our hotel written down and showed the first booth the address. I was quoted 115R or $29 – I laughed out loud and went to the other taxi stand. Not surprisingly, the man that quoted us the high rate tried to come down but at that point I didn’t want to give him my business. The next booth quoted us 95R or $24. It was still higher than we wanted to pay, but it was $5 less than the other taxi company and we didn’t really have any other options. We paid the fare with our credit card and took the receipt to the taxi line where we got into a car.
We arrived at the Monaco Convention Hotel the same time as the airport shuttle bus. This meant that there was a long line of people waiting to check in. Luckily the line moved pretty quickly so we didn’t have to wait but 5 minutes.
We were surprised that most of the staff at the hotel, which is next to one of the largest airports in all of South America, didn’t speak much English. We were able to check in using the agent’s limited English and our basic Spanish. Still, it surprised us how much more difficult it was than we expected it to be.
We had made our reservation through Booking.com which had charged 1 night with our credit card, giving us the option of how to pay for the remaining night. We paid with cash as we had extra Real that we needed to use up before we left Brazil.
Monaco Convention Hotel – Room 517
I had read reviews about the hotel before we booked the room. I read that the rooms were small and not very luxurious. This did not phase us at all after 4 months of traveling around South America since we had experienced a number of hotel rooms that we wouldn’t even consider staying at back home.
The room was clean but a little small. Our view was comical, but we didn’t really expect much for what we had paid. Similar to a cruise ship, we had to put our key into a slot to get power to our room. This was a non-issue for us and from an eco-friendly perspective, I totally appreciated it.
The bed was decently comfortable but the sheets were extremely old and threadbare – in fact there were literally holes in parts of the sheets.
The worst part of the room for us was the thin walls. There was a family next door to us with a kid who was crying – one of the most grating, worst sounds to me. Fortunately for us, he only cried during the day which was plenty annoying for us but would have been much worse had it been at night. People in general were pretty disrespectful in the hallways – slamming doors and yelling but I can’t fault the hotel for this.
Similar to the room, the bathroom was quite small as well. For taking showers and washing up, it had everything that we needed. The shower had good water pressure and was hot so we have no complaints there.
I did have a complaint with the towels though. Similar to the sheets, they were quite old and had seen a lot of use over the years. For some reason, my bath towel smelled like Play-Doh which was really odd, plus it was not very absorbent. I tried hard not to think about why this would be or what could possibly be on my towel.
Monaco Convention Hotel – Amenities
There were a number of amenities which was a bit of a surprise for us since it was a low cost hotel.
When we were looking for places to stay in Sao Paulo, I was only interested in booking where there was an airport shuttle. There were not many hotels in the area which had airport shuttles which was surprising since back in the US just about every hotel near an airport has a shuttle.
During check in I saw a sign which stated that the airport shuttle costs 7R or $1.75 each. The cost wasn’t significant and was no doubt cheaper than a taxi, but I was a little annoyed that the hotel nickel and dimed us on something I expected to be included in the room rate.
The shuttle was large which was great but the shocks were a little out of whack so every time we went over a bump we went pretty high into the air. Luckily the bus was outfitted with seatbelts which we promptly buckled into.
Unlike shuttle buses we are used to back home which ask riders which airline they are on and stop accordingly, there was only one stop at the airport which sadly was the domestic terminal. Even though Sao Paulo is a massive airport, their signage is severely lacking. After a lot of searching, we finally found an airport map, which showed that we had to take the shuttle to a different terminal to check into our flight. This wasn’t a huge deal but would have been nice had we been dropped off right at our terminal instead.
We have had some pretty lackluster breakfasts during our time in South America and when I saw the spread at the hotel I got pretty excited. There were 3 different chafing dishes which made me excited. Upon opening the lids I saw runny scrambled eggs, hot dogs in a sauce (yeah, I don’t get it either) and an empty dish.
We opted for yogurt which we made into a parfait with some fruit and granola. There were also rolls and cake but we have had our fair share of carb breakfasts so we shied away from those.
We arrived at the hotel late at night and the internet was lightening fast – even faster than at home. This was pretty exciting for us as we had had some pretty spotty internet to date and we were excited to be able to catch up on loading pictures to our Google drive. As an added bonus, loading articles to the website was extra easy as well.
During the evening when lots of people were at the hotel the wifi slowed down quite a bit, but was always fast at night.
Like other parts of South America, Sao Paulo was pretty much closed down on Sunday. Luckily our hotel had a restaurant, unfortunately the nice restaurant was also closed. We were still able to eat at the buffet restaurant which was in the same area which breakfast was served.
The buffet dinner was pretty inexpensive at only 24.5R or $6 each. It wasn’t the best meal that we have had on our trip but it was convenient and we were able to find a few things which were decent.
When we asked the front desk what time checkout was we were told 2pm. We thought for sure that something was lost in translation but the second time we asked we got the same response and were told that we could have a late checkout for free.
This was absolutely perfect for us as we had to catch the 3pm shuttle to the airport. We checked out at 2pm and only had to kill an hour in the lobby before we left.
I guess you would consider the mini fridge more a mini bar as the hotel used it to hold items for purchase. We found some space to fit a few essentials – a bottle of white wine and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.
We didn’t use the safe but it was nice to have in the room.
We booked the hotel because it was near the airport. As with many cities, the airport was in a random part of town. We left to visit a Walmart which we hoped would have lots of inexpensive treats and we were right – it was a jackpot. The walk there felt a little bit weird, partially because it was a Sunday when many things were closed and partially because you could tell it was a weird neighborhood.
I assume that the majority of the people who stay at the hotel are there to spend the night after a late flight or before an early flight so the location does not matter too much to them. It is worth noting that it looked to be quite challenging to get public transit into the city from the hotel area.
If we had another flight in Sao Paulo I would stay at the Monaco Hotel again. While it wasn’t the most posh hotel and there were a few annoyances, the price was great, it had everything that we needed and the room was clean.
If the hotel updated their bedding and towels, I think it would go a long way in making the hotel feel a bit more luxurious. Also, I would recommend the bus fix whatever the issue is with the shocks and make stops at all 3 terminals at the airport.