For $39, I found the Mercure São Paulo Nacoes Unidas to be an ideal “lounge” for my day-long layover in Brazil’s most populous city.
Mercure São Paulo Nacoes Unidas Review
I arrived into Guarulhos (GRU) airport at 7:55AM and had the whole day ahead of me before my 11:10PM flight from Viracopos (VCP). As far as I know, there is no arrivals lounge at GRU and currently there is no departure lounges at VCP, so I knew I needed a day room at a hotel in order to stay productive.
First, I reached out to the Grand Hyatt, but they wanted the prevailing overnight rate, which was close to $100. Now that’s not bad in the big scheme of things, but two considerations ran through my mind: 1.) I didn’t need breakfast since I ate it on the plane and 2.) I didn’t want a place to sleep, just to work.
While searching for hotels, I saw the Mercure São Paulo Nacoes Unidas (United Nations) pop up since it was so close to the Hyatt. While not in a part of town I really needed to be in (I probably should have looked to Pinheiros to get better coffee and food options), the hotel was very highly rated on online travel sites, looked clean, had a pool, sauna, and fitness center, and most importantly, cost only $39.
I had Orbitz Orbucks that were expiring, which I hate to use on Hyatts since you often do not get stay credit when booking with a consolidator, so I figured this would be a reasonable space to spend my day, working and working out ahead of my late-evening departure.
From GRU, I took an Uber to the hotel (about $20), which only took about an hour (pretty decent considering I was departing during the morning rush hour).
Now came the big question: would I be able to check-in early?
Even though the hotel was technically (I think?) in the same business district as the Grand Hyatt, the neighborhood felt a bit more rough.
Thankfully, I had no trouble checking in early and was even invited to breakfast, located in a dining room adjacent to the lobby.
I was assigned room 712 on the 7th floor. A sign on my door indicated the room had been sanitized.
My room had two twin beds…which I booked because it was $15 cheaper than a king room. I did not even plan to nap, but even if I did, I can sleep in a twin bed just fine.
The refrigerator was sealed and contained a minibar inside with snacks on top, though I did not see a price list.
I spent most of the day at the desk in the room and was quite productive. Internet was not lightening fast, but sufficient for me to upload photos for the blog and conduct calls on Teams and Skype. I forgot my electrical adapter (rookie move, I even have one that permanently stays inside my bag but took a different bag on this short trip), but thankfully the hotel had one that I could use.
The restroom was very small, and included a shower but no tub.
Interesting trash can…
At about 10:00AM I did head downstairs for some coffee and to check out breakfast. I wasn’t hungry, but enjoyed a decent espresso and saw that the breakfast spread included:
(Quite honestly, it did not look appetizing or particularly fresh. The signs were only in Portuguese, so it was not clear if you could order eggs or any hot dishes from the back.)
Fitness Center + Sauna + Pool
The sauna was closed due to COVID-19, something the hotel website did not mention and that was quite disappointing. I question whether the sauna really had to close as it was open at the Grand Hyatt down the street when I stayed there.
The rooftop pool was small and more for wading than for swimming.
Here’s a view from the rooftop:
The fitness center was also located on the top level and included a single strength training machine but mostly cardiovascular equipment (treadmills plus bike).
Café Next Door
Next door to the hotel was a little café where I stopped for coffee and fresh-squeezed orange juice in the evening. What. A. Mistake. The orange juice was just fine (but why put ice in it?), but the cappuccino was powdered and very sugary. Oh well…
Just in case my flight was cancelled or delayed, I did not check out – I just left the hotel around 8:00PM to make the 100km journey to VCP. This hotel provided what I needed: a quiet, comfortable place to work. For the price I paid, I really have no complaints.
I think that Accor is the best hotel group for those of us who stay in 3-4 star hotels. They have a huge footprint, they almost always get the basics (cleanliness, sleep quality) right, their pricing is competitive (particularly in terms of the spread between standard rooms and higher categories), and they are old-fashioned enough to have avoided excessive reliance on concepts like ‘select service’ and the hipster nonsense of some of their competitors (e.g. recent search for an upcoming stay in Lisbon, the Moxy was a couple of Euros more expensive than the Novotel where the rooms are 30%+ bigger).
The loyalty programme is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it works fine for me as the points have a fixed value so there is no need to hunt down availability and the risk of devaluation is pretty limited.
Mercure hotels are very decent and Accor has a good presence in Brazil. For $39 you cannot get anything better.
Brazilians put ice in their fresh squeezed juice. It’s annoying. You can ask for it without, but you have to ask, otherwise, they will.
Also, I don’t think “price-list” is a compound word. You can just say price list.
Do you know why? Because oranges are fresh and not kept in the fridge. Thus, when you make fresh squeezed orange juice and you want it cold you will need ice.
Yes I know. I lived in Brazil. I prefer fresh squeezed juice as-is. But I do acknowledge other people have their preferences.
I also prefer “room temperature” OJ. Now I know to ask for no ice.
So your Google translate wasn’t working to translate the signs at the restaurant?
I was too lazy (and not hungry).
They prepare you omlet if you ask, I have stayed there too many nights. There a decent coffee chain shop around the corner, about three minutes walk but since you would not return, does not matter. Accor in Brazil has a widest selection of hotels of any other brands and USD39 is quite high even for that hotel. I pay usually around USD20-25 breakfast included in Mercure hotels including that hotel and for others in SP.
While I do love Hotel Porn featuring luxury properties, these practical reviews of “most likely” scenarios when running around to cities for quick in and out meetings is very useful. Far more useful in fact. We may aspire to the great properties on some trips, but that fact is in between we are often needing a clean and basic room for a night with decent wifi. I am happy to see more of these. Basic airport hotel reviews around the world are always needed as well.
I totally second this! I know people have different tastes, but I really don’t see the attraction of luxury city hotels.
I absolutely get paying a small fortune to stay on a private island in the Maldives or a resort in a unique natural spot such as those that have been popping up in places like Oman or the Douro Valley. On the other hand, I can’t see any point in booking a 30 sq. metre room in the Savoy, Four Seasons, or Palazzo Whatever when you are visiting a destination with a view to exploring it (or, worse still, have business meetings!) and you only return to the hotel for sleeping and possibly checking the odd email. Things are not helped by the fact that I have had a couple of underwhelming experiences in hotels of that sort (a concierge once told me ‘we can’t get you the train times you’ve asked for, but we can arrange to take you to your destination by limo’).