Ultimate hotel guide: where to stay in Lisbon

From former palaces to chic rooftop hangouts, the Portuguese capital’s hotel offering is as vibrant and varied as the city itself.

Friday, December 13, 2019,
By Connor McGovern
Superior room at MEMMO Príncipe Real
It's all about the views at Memmo Príncipe Real, with vistas of the Portuguese capital's famed terracotta roofs part of the offering.

The shining star of European city breaks shows no sign of dimming. Historic landmarks have been reimagined as boutique boltholes, hip hostels are plentiful and upscale hotels with rooftop bars have become popular hangouts. The Portuguese capital continues to offer great value by European standards, too, with even some of the most high-end five-stars available for under £300 a night. But most of Lisbon’s charm lies in its neighbourhoods, from the cobbled streets of historic Alfama to Bairro Alto, whose steep lanes heave with revellers after dark, and genteel Príncipe Real, which moves at a slower pace. It’s this rich offering that plays a key part in making Lisbon one of the world’s most exciting capitals.

For neighbourhood digs

Memmo Príncipe Real 
After a room with a view? You can count on it here, with almost all of the 41 rooms overlooking Lisbon’s famed terracotta roofs. Tear yourself away from the window and you’ll bask in earth-toned interiors, with touches of luxury, including in-room port and tonics and Bang + Olufsen TVs. Memmo also encourages guests to get out and explore the surrounding bairro of Príncipe Real, with maps and guides available in all guest rooms — and keep an eye out for local tips left by staff after turndown. Hit the hip hotel bar after dark, too, for poolside cocktails as the capital twinkles below.
ROOMS: From €270 (£241). 

 

For boutique bliss

AlmaLusa Baixa/Chiado
You’d be hard pushed to find a better location than this, sitting pretty halfway between the Praça do Comércio and the bars and buzz of Cais do Sodré. Step inside the listed, 28-room property and you’ll be greeted with interiors that have a chic, slightly distressed vibe — bare concrete, rough wood and original features such as stone floors and fireplaces amid the sumptuous furnishings. Delfina is the ground-floor restaurant, where a menu of Portuguese favourites can be enjoyed in a buzzing, bistro-style atmosphere. Thoughtful little touches are also dotted throughout, including scented in-room bookmarks by Portus Cale.
ROOMS: From €165 (£144). 

 

For timeless tradition

Palácio Ramalhete
Oak floors, flagstone courtyards and azulejo tiles are among the myriad original features at this grand, family-owned mansion, tucked away on a quiet street. With just 16 rooms, it’s intimate but far from stuffy: staff are welcoming, and a beautiful lounge area invites lazy afternoons with a book. The quiet courtyards are full of fruit trees and there’s also a pool on one of the terraces. Opposite is the National Museum of Ancient Art, and a handful of laid-back cafes are minutes away.
ROOMS: From €173 (£154). 

Perched at the top of TivolI Avenida Liberdade is SEEN — a slick bar with easy disco tunes and dizzying drinks menu, including everything from obscure mezcals to Japanese whiskies.

For city slick

Tivoli Avenida Liberdade
Just a stiletto’s throw from Gucci and Burberry, this Lisbon institution has stood on the Avenida de Liberdade since 1933, but has never looked better: an art deco skylight crowns the lobby and the marbled spa comes courtesy of Thai brand Anantara. Rooms, meanwhile, are decked out in a cool palette of cream, azure and brown. Dining options include Portuguese brasserie Cervejaria Liberdade and SEEN Lisboa — a restaurant that is, true to its name, the place to be seen. Grab a drink at the Sky Bar, where drinks range from mezcals to Japanese whiskies.
ROOMS: From €250 (£223). 

 

For old-meets-new

1908 Lisboa Hotel
This hotel cuts a handsome dash in the Indendente district, housed in a listed art nouveau building. There’s a real buzz to the communal areas, including the restaurant, Infame, whose decor has been spiced up with neon lighting, colourful tiles and plenty of exposed black metal. Rooms are rather simple in comparison, although a number of them have wrought-iron balconies overlooking Avendia Almeida Reis.
ROOMS: From €185 (£165). 

 

For a modern classic

My Story Hotel Rossio
Locals might remember this spot as the home of Café Portugal, a classic restaurant that closed in the 1970s. These days, it’s been given a new lease of life as a modern hotel with fresh interiors punctuated with fin-de-siècle elegance. Rooms are smartly minimalist, with bell jar lamps and exposed beams in some. You’ll pay a little more, but book a room overlooking Rossio to watch life on go by on one of Lisbon’s main squares.
ROOMS: From €120 (£103). 

 

For central style

Portugal Boutique City Hotel
Hidden down a side street off the Praça da Figueira, this 53-room has a grand facade and gold-clad reception. Upstairs, the rooms take inspiration from Lisbon’s famed azulejo tiles, with plush white-and-indigo furnishings throughout. Elsewhere, the Premium Winehouse Bar & Shop offers evening tastings, while the rooftop bar of nearby sister Hotel Mundial is the spot for sunset cocktails with epic city views.
ROOMS: From €125 (£112). 

Bleached wood, bare stone and pared-back furnishings offer a sense of calm at inner-city retreat Santa Clara 1728.

For stripped-back chic

Santa Clara 1728
Life ticks along peacefully at this 300-year-old townhouse, with all the warmth of a family home, helped by the fact that owner João Rodrigues and his family live on the top floor, and chef José brings homemade breakfast to the refectory-style table. The tripartite bedrooms, of which there are only six, are spacious, giving the pared-back decor — bleached pine, stone hues and bare limestone — room to breathe. And the location is excellent, in the heart of Alfama — the winding, historic Lisbon of poems and postcards.
ROOMS: From €480 (£428). Minimum stay two nights. 

 

For all-out elegance

The One Palácio da Anunciada
Opened in March 2018 after three years of renovations, this 83-room hotel, set in a 16th-century palácio, offers boutique comfort with grande-dame opulence. Many original features have been restored, including the ceilings, many of which are once again full of stucco and elaborate motifs. All the neutral-palette rooms have king-size beds, and the bathrooms go big on rose-coloured Alentejo marble. There’s modern Portuguese dining at the Condes de Ericeira restaurant, and a bijou spa just off the garden terrace. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a rooftop pool.
ROOMS: From €240 (£210). 

 

For budget brilliance

Living Lounge Hostel
Fun, friendly staff and a laid-back vibe make these digs a cut above the city’s other budget options. Spread across three floors of a historic townhouse, it’s owned by four Portuguese artists, and as such, guests can expect fun touches with the decor, including dentist chairs and artificial grass floors. Bikes are available to hire and there are regular hostel dinners, but the winner here is the price. Given its enivable location in the bustling heart of Baixa, it’s a real steal.
ROOMS: Dorms from €18 (£16), singles from €35 (£31), twins from €50 (£44).   

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Published in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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