In November last year, I visited Lisbon for the second time, staying at the gorgeous Hotel Heritage Av Liberdade. The first time was as a child on one of my family trips around Europe, but there was no such luxury on that occasion as we we camped every summer on a modest budget.
My mother reminds me that we all had our photos taken in front of what must be the most recognisable sculpture in Portugal at the Padrão dos Descobrimentos or Monument to the Discoveries at Belem and I’m sure that we must have tasted at least one of those delicious Pasteis de Nata custard tarts. I’m pleased that my children occasionally get a taste of staying in a nice hotel, combined with the odd camping trip, apartment or hostels to give them a broad experience of travel in all its forms.
I’ll tell you up front that I was there at the invitation of Mr & Mrs Smith to write a review for their boutique hotel site – but this is one hotel that it was pure pleasure to write about. My first impressions were coloured by the fact that in late autumn, the Christmas lights were up and we were in a festive mood – and so that washed out turquoise frontage just made me think of those distinctive Tiffany gift boxes with some delectable piece of jewellery inside. Indeed a similar building along the road had Christmas lights in the shape of ribbons wrapped around it!
As we entered the front door, we stepped down from street level in to a warm and welcoming space, decorated in spicy colours of cinamon and saffron into a stylish, modern scene but one with a nod to the old traditions of Lisbon with the blue and white Azulejo tiles on the wall. The tables and flooring were in dark wood with an Eastern feel as if inspired by the travels of the great Portuguese explorers like Vasco da Gama who established trade routes to Mozambique and Kerala. Just inside the door was an old herbalist’s counter, taken from a shop down the backstreets of Lisbon, now with tins of loose speciality teas from which you could make your choice to brew up something delicious and fragrant.
The hotel is full of interesting individual touches – the lift that’s paved with the same black and white stone mosaic that you find on the boulevard outside, the huge photo-realistic Narnia-esque picture in the lobby with bright blue turrets and waterfalls, and the complimentary glass of port you’re offered on arrival. The hotel’s large downstairs bar area is perfect for lounging around although there’s no restaurant, which you may find no hardship, as Lisbon is packed with interesting choices to eat. In the backstreets just down the road, we enjoyed our first evening at the Casa do Alentejo with hearty traditional cooking surrounded by more blue and white tiles and up in Chiado I’ll recommend the beer and seafood at Cervejaria Trinidade on the site of the oldest brewery in Lisbon.
And so we took the lift up to our 5th floor room, reading the snippets of poetry about Lisbon and along the dimly lit corridor to our room on the corner of the hotel looking over the teracotta rooftops with a distant view of the Castelo de Sao Jorge on the hill. The room was modern with luxurious caramel tones of silks and velvets, a leather chaise longue and mirrored wardrobes. The bathroom was traditional in style incorporating more of the Portuguese painted tiles as well plenty of fluffy monogrammed towels. It was a lovely room (No 54 if you must know) from which to soak up the charm of old Lisbon, watch the elevador furnicular slowly chug up the steep hill and be woken by the church bells from the dome behind the hotel.
We spent our Saturday in Lisbon taking in the major sites, jumping on and off trams, admiring the carved stonework in the Monasterio de Jeronimus and having afternoon tea Portuguese style below the Castelo de Sao Jorge with our new Hospitality club friends, Sergio and Marco. The hotel is perfectly placed for sightseeing in the flat downtown area from which you can stroll either down through elegant squares to the waterfront or up the steep hills to the Castelo or to the trendy Chiado district and the nightlife of the Bairro Alto with narrow streets packed with bars and restaurants. On Sunday morning, wanting to enjoy everything the hotel could possibly offer (for review purposes of course) we took a dip in the small pool in the basement, overlooked by a mural of Sepia bathing beauties from the 1920s, then lounged around on the day beds.
I’d recommend the Hotel Heritage Av Liberdade for it’s warm and welcoming atmosphere, extremely friendly staff and stylish interiors with an appreciation of the charm and heritage of Lisbon reworked for modern tastes. It’s perfect for a short but relaxing break in Lisbon, and ideally located to venture out and enjoy the best of the city. Rooms are from €185-€325.
- Visit Lisboa – Official Tourism Website
- Go Lisbon Blog – I found lots of useful articles on things to do in Lisbon
- Visit the Mr & Mrs Smith website for more information on the gorgeous Hotel Heritage Av. Liberdade, and other hotels in their handpicked selection of Lisbon Boutique Hotels.
- On this trip I used the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Top 10 travel guide to Lisbon which is a pocket sized guide that’s ideal for sightseeing if you’re there for a short time – read my review here
- Podcast – Hostelworld Podcast – Only in Lisbon
- Podcast – Guardian Unlimited Podcast – Lisbon
Other Lisbon articles to enjoy