San Marco Hotel. Centrally located in Ipanema, the posh beach neighborhood famous for the “Girl from Ipanema,” this hotel is the perfect spot for those who want to be near the action of Copacabana but not in it. Prices start at around $90US, which includes taxes, daily breakfast, and a welcome drink.
Hotel Angrense http://www.angrensehotel.com.br/
I stayed here back when it was truly a backpacker’s delight. The rate was around $25/ night. Things have changed, rates have risen, but the hotel has also improved itself quite a bit. You can still get a room with shared bathroom for about $60/night. Private rooms are around $90/night. The hotel is VERY centrally located, only one block off the beach on a major shopping street. I was a bit paranoid before I got to Rio but once I saw all the people walking around at all times of night, I knew I would be safe! Plus, the desk staff speaks English. This place is a good starter hotel for Rio visitors.
Once you get your feet wet, you can branch out throughout Rio. I DO NOT suggest those new to Rio stay outside Copacabana or Ipanema. But for those who know the lay of the land you can stay in the downtown area. Again I do not recommend newbies do so.
You can also rent an apartment while in Rio and doing so is highly recommended. I will cover the best apartment renters in a separate post.