There is a Brazilian classification system, from one to five stars, but the absence of stars doesn’t necessarily mean a bad hotel: they depend on bureaucratic requirements like the width of lift shafts and kitchen floor space as much as on the standard of accommodation – many perfectly good hotels in João Pessoa don’t have stars.
Hotels offer a range of different rooms, with significant price differences: a quarto is a room without a bathroom, an apartamento is a room with a shower (Brazilians don’t use baths); an apartamento de luxo is normally just an apartamento with a fridge full of drinks; a casal is a double room; and a solteiro a single. In a starred hotel, an apartamento upwards would normally come with telephone, air conditioning and a TV; a ventilador is a fan.
Rates for rooms vary tremendously between different parts of João Pessoa, but start at around R$20 in a one-star hotel, around R$50 in a two-star hotel, and around R$70 in a three-star place. Generally speaking, for R$50-70 a night you could expect to stay in a reasonable mid-range hotel, with bathroom and air conditioning. Many hotels in this range in João Pessoa are excellent value for the standard of accommodation they offer. During the off-season most hotels in tourist areas offer hefty discounts, usually around 25-35 percent.
Most hotels – although not all – will add a ten percent service charge to your bill, the taxa de serviço: those that don’t will have a sign at the desk saying “Nos não cobramos taxa de serviço”, and it’s very bad form to leave the hotel without tipping the receptionist. The price will almost invariably include breakfast – gargantuan helpings of fruit, cheese, bread and coffee – but no other meals, although there will often be a restaurant on-site.
Hotels usually have a safe deposit box, a caixa, which is worth asking about when you check in; they are free for you to use and, although they’re not invulnerable, anything left in a caixa is safer than on your person or unguarded in your room. Many hotels also offer a safe deposit box in your room, which is the safest option of all. ???