The compact and relatively accessible nature of Lisbon’s historic centre makes a stay in the Portuguese capital a very desirable proposition. Alluring and historic visitor attractions abound, and several are within walking distance of each other.
Add to this the fact that the city can offer a select choice of fashionable boutique hotels in which to retreat, and the prospect of spending a few days’ quality time in one of Europe’s most beguiling cities is simply irresistible.
By their nature, boutique hotels are special places to stay. Invariably romantic and intimate, some of those in Lisbon are either refreshingly contemporary in style or of a more period character. All cater for a discerning clientele and are located in the most picturesque of city neighbourhoods.
Choosing just five isn’t really fair. There are at least another half dozen that deserve a mention. But with this overview we’ve at least given you a head start in seeking out that perfect boutique bolthole.
Location, location, location… it doesn’t get much better than this! Enjoying a privileged position overlooking Praça Luís Camões in the heart of Lisbon’s elegant Chiado quarter, this 5-star property embodies elegance and sophistication. It’s housed in a restored 18th-century building, and much of the period character has been retained. Contemporary flourishes lend the interior a fashionable edge, epitomized by the stylish ground floor Café-Bar BA. For the best views of the square ask for room 307; for an aspect of both the square and the river, try and book the Corner Suite 406. Incidentally, we love the hotel restaurant Flores. Signature cuisine combines traditional Portuguese dishes with North African and Asian influences. And for the perfect sundowner it has to be the rooftop terrace.
Competing for attention as far as location goes, this contemporary 4-star blends Oriental and colonial Portuguese interior design with some subtle but evocative modern styling, compliments of award-winning Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza Vieira. The property is incorporated into the upscale Armazéns do Chiado shopping mall, occupying the top two floors. Needless to say, the views from the terrace are magnificent, with downtown Lisbon unfolding in front of your eyes like a beautifully embroidered tapestry. Premium Rooms enjoy a private balcony, where the castle, river and cathedral can be admired in privacy. Otherwise, head for the Entretando terrace bar and join fellow guests for a cocktail and a postcard panorama.
Another great example of careful urban refurbishment, the preservation of this noted late 18th-century building led to the Portuguese Heritage hotel chain unveiling this charming 4-star boutique property that commands an enviable position on Lisbon’s principal avenue. Many of the original furnishings and artefacts have been lovingly restored and provide a decorative complement to the stylish design signature that runs through the 42 individually designed rooms. Guest leisure facilities include a jet pool imaginatively set under a 1920s wall mural – a wonderful way to wind down after a day’s sightseeing. The lack of a restaurant here is more than compensated for by a wealth of good eateries located near the hotel, and those yearning for a bit of retail therapy should also note that many of Lisbon’s designer brand outlets are situated on the same stretch of road.
This unassuming bijou bolthole nestles in the Baixa (downtown) area of the city. It’s a perfect choice from which to explore Lisbon’s riverfront, and is within easy walking distance of the bustling Rua Augusta with its plethora of shops, café and restaurants. The hotel’s decoration combines colour-coordinated patterns with some classical overtones, and the interior remains refreshingly airy despite the property’s relatively compact size. We recommend an evening drink in the minimalist-styled bar before hitting the town, though the hotel’s own restaurant serves up some fine Portuguese cuisine. While not blessed with top-floor views to write home about, as a 4-star property, Vincci Baixa is up there for value for money.
Charm personified, the Solar do Castelo is one of Lisbon’s most attractive hideaway haunts. A wonderful atmosphere of seclusion pervades this unique property – the only hotel situated within the walls of Castelo de São Jorge. Just 14 rooms are cleverly incorporated into this 18th-century mansion that’s built around an interior courtyard of polished cobblestone. Quiet and intimate, few other places in the city offer such a peaceful haven where very often the only sounds are the cries of the resident peacocks and the water trickling from the central fountain. Breakfast is a memo0rable occasion, taken as it is on a pretty terrace that affords outstanding views of Alfama and the River Tejo.