by Mary Lussiana, The Telegraph, July 1, 2019
Lisbon, with its narrow cobbled streets, bougainvillea-clad squares, sea views and seven steep hills which yellow trams rattle up and down, suits small boutique properties which maintain a sense of character and a feeling of a home not a hotel. Lisbon, unlike so much of the world, has not gone global: it remains resolutely Portuguese, looking out to sea, with its back to the rest of Europe and its identity intact. Below is the best of the small, stylish and independant hotels, tucked in hidden corners of the capital, like Torel Palace with views over the city beneath, in Moorish Alfama like the ancient Palacio Belmonte or beside the majestic River Tagus like sleek, minimalist Altis Belem.
This beautifully renovated 18th-century palace atop one of Lisbon’s hills in the cobbled streets of the lively Bairro Alto district houses 53 luxuriously spacious suites, an elegant spa and a rooftop restaurant and bar courtesy of acclaimed chef Miguel Castro e Silva. Much of the furniture and artwork is bespoke, drawing on the wealth of Portuguese artisanal producers. Of particular note are the hand-woven wall tapestries in every bedroom which incorporate the black-and-white motif of the hotel with the typical blue and ochre yellow of Lisbon.
Read the full review: The Lumiares
Memmo Príncipe Real
Designed by architect Samuel Torres de Carvalho, who was also responsible for the previous Memmo hotels, the overall character here is one of contemporary elegance rooted in Portuguese heritage. Drawing on local materials from warm limestone to old hand-painted tiles, modern art by Miguel Branco, Barahona Possollo and Iva Viana and even hand-made hats from an old, established, neighbouring store, Memmo Príncipe Real blends the area’s past with a decidedly 21st century form of luxury.
Read the full review: Memmo Príncipe Real
These two turn-of-the-century mansions have been elegantly converted into a boutique bolthole. A beautiful swimming pool inset on a cobbled terrace offers views right across the capital, whilst restaurant Cave 23 delivers seriously good modern Portuguese fare. There are 26 rooms, one apartment and one villa. Décor is a mix of elegantly classic or contemporary, but all rooms come with a cosy vibe: beds are clad in the softest of linens with a warm, Portuguese woven rug underfoot, windows have glossy white shutters, and balconies are covered in local, brightly coloured tiles.
Read the full review: Torel Palace
Verride Palácio Santa Catarina
This elegant 18th-century palace, painstakingly restored, houses 18 luxurious rooms including two sumptuous suites, lavishly adorned with original stucco work. The hotel’s rooftop, swimming pool and Suba Restaurant offer unrivalled 360-degree views of Lisbon’s skyline and the River Tagus beyond. Throughout the building there is an emphasis on allowing the characteristic Lisbon light in. Colours mix soft blues, beige and greys, with some rooms clad in silk wallpaper, others in raw linen. Despite the palatial feel to the building its character is warm and inviting.
Read the full review: Verride Palácio Santa Catarina
Santa Clara 1728
While respecting the original heritage of this 18th-century house, which unlike so much of Lisbon survived the earthquake of 1755, the interior of this hilltop hotel pays homage to 21st-century design. The walls may be clad in local limestone but light fixtures comes courtesy of Italian designer Davide Groppi, chairs and tables from Carl Hansen and, in the rooms, beds from B&B Italia. The overall effect lends a serene atmosphere paired with a strong sense of history. An essay in simplicity, the six beautiful suites all look over the roofs of old Lisbon towards the Tagus.
Read the full review: Santa Clara 1728
Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
This seductive hotel lies on the banks of the Tagus River and offers sleek, minimalist interiors, an excellent spa and Michelin-starred Restaurant Feitoria. Decorative artefacts lend a sense of heritage, as do the views over the 16th-century Tower of Belem, from where the great navigators set sail. The rooms and suites, meanwhile, are decorated to reflect the ancient colonies of the Portuguese Golden Age: in some it might be tropical birds etched against a jungle background to symbolise Brazil; in others, leaves of brown and green surround the long-necked giraffes of West Africa. A small rooftop swimming pool is the perfect spot to watch the river life flow.
Read the full review: Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
The architectural style of this palace hotel spans many centuries. It was built in 1449 for the Cabral family (the navigator Pedro Cabral later discovered Brazil), and it remained in their hands until 1994. Both ancient Roman and Moorish towers were incorporated into its design and a Baroque façade was added in 1640. Over 3,800 blue-and-white hand-painted tiles were commissioned in 1720 and fill many of the rooms. The present owner spent six years and many millions restoring the building, filling it with antiques and interweaving them with modern artworks.
Read the full review: Palacio Belmonte
For more than 100 years this building was the home of the Brazilian Consulate; today it's a 12-room hotel with original Portuguese art in the rooms, an atmospheric bar and an acclaimed restaurant. It brims with both character and style, and the décor is nothing short of eclectic, from the bull’s heads by Portuguese artist Bordallo Pinheiro in the restaurant to the artworks by respected local creatives. A variety of Lisbon galleries have partnered with the hotel to provide original art in each of the 12 bedrooms and suites.
Read the full review: Le Consulat
Pousada de Lisboa
This pousada – on Lisbon’s magnificent Praҁa do Comércio – ticks all the boxes, weaving luxury with culture, art and history with modern comforts, and impressive views with an impeccable location. Interiors come courtesy of Brazilian architect Jaime Morais, who has managed the balance between heritage and contemporary necessities with aplomb, so that original art pieces on loan from the city’s museums sit alongside an indoor swimming pool and a small spa with sauna and fitness room.
Read the full review: Pousada de Lisboa
Whilst the bedrooms are fairly standard in feel, the public areas exude cosiness. The entrance lobby combines a bar – rows of bottles illuminated behind it – and the reception, which faces a wall lined with books and ornaments; underneath that are sofas and arm chairs, plenty of cushions on both, and low lighting which adds to the welcoming feel. There are tables and chairs on the pavement outside the entrance to the hotel, which make a good spot for a coffee or a drink. The restaurant is filled with leafy green plants and upstairs on the rooftop there are sun loungers around the plunge pool.
Read the full review: PortoBay Marquês