01 Hotel Unique
In a city stuffed with signature buildings from big-name architects such as Brazil’s own Oscar Niemeyer, it is only right to visit this temple of design. Created by Ruy Ohtake, Hotel Unique is situated in the leafy, mainly low-rise area of Jardins, to the south-west of the centre – think of a flat version of Beverly Hills. The five-star property resembles a giant slice of concrete watermelon with its gravity-defying, upturned moon-shape structure and minimal wall supports at either end. The floors get wider as they go higher, the broadest point being the roof, which has a chic pool, bar and restaurant – the 360-degree views from here are fantastic, taking in the towering skyscrapers that stretch along the skyline as far as the eye can see. After dark, the bar is home to one of Sao Paulo’s most happening scenes. Open 6pm-12.30am; Avenida Brigadeiro Luis Antonio 4,700; hotelunique.com.br
02 Ibirapuera Park
Sao Paulo is such a sprawling metropolis that taxis or helicopters (for the rich and very rich – the city has the highest concentration of choppers in the world) are generally the way to go. But your second stop is a short walk away. Turn left on Rua Henrique Martins, which runs from Hotel Unique, straight to Sao Paulo’s answer to Central Park. Wander along the many paths beside large lagoons or rent a bike and follow the cycleways. Look out for two impressive structures by Niemeyer – the Auditorio Ibirapuera, which rises from the ground at a 45-degree angle, and Oca, a huge gallery space that resembles a giant flying saucer.
03 Museum Of Modern Art
Walk across the park to the Museum of Modern Art, by gate three. Dating back to 1948, it is divided into two gallery spaces mainly reserved for temporary exhibitions – there is also a permanent collection with more than 4,500 works. Initially set up to foster local talent, it also includes pieces by international artists such as Chagall and Picasso. Photography also features high here. Don’t miss the sculpture garden surrounding the museum with 28 pieces by Brazilian artists, and check the website for exhibitions happening at your time of travel. Entry is R$5.50 (R24). Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm; mam.org.br (Portuguese only)
About a ten- to 20-minute taxi ride away is Daslu, on Avenida Chedid Jafet. In the world of stylish Paulistanos (Sao Paulo locals), Daslu is a department store-cummeeting place. They drop in – literally – on the helipad, hosting dinner parties at the swish top-floor Terraco Daslu. Movie stars, models and movers and shakers grab what takes their fancy from the rails of Chanel, Prada, Gucci and Pucci, and top Brazilian designers such as Cris Barros and Raia de Goeye. Paps and mere mortals make do with arriving by car – no one ever turns up on foot. Visit daslu.com.br
05 Museu Da Casa Brasileira
Staying in the Jardins district and keeping to the theme of high design, a short taxi ride north takes you to this museum of interiors. A sizeable collection of furniture from the 17th to 21st centuries is displayed in this beautiful wedding cake-style Palladian mansion, once home to the influential Prado family. Along with historic pieces such as ornate jacaranda wood furniture and delicate silverware, it showcases modern Brazilian design. If you have worked up an appetite, the Quinta do Museu restaurant is excellent. Entry is R$4 (R18). Open Tues-Sun 10am-6pm; Avenida Brigadeiro Faria Lima 2,705; mcb.sp.gov.br (Portuguese only).
Other creations of Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, who is now the ripe old age of 102, include: Most of the public buildings in Brazil’s capital, Brasilia Museum of Modern Art in Caracas Penang State Mosque. He was also part of the team behind the United Nations headquarters in New York.