In this guest post, Oneika Raymond reviews the Inspira Santa Marta Hotel in Lisbon where she spent a long weekend soaking up the atmosphere and colour of Portugal’s capital, as well as the fragrance of pasteis de nata from the local bakeries.
These days, my hotel experience can make or break a trip. I am not a traveller who is content with just having a place to sleep. Quality and comfort are of the utmost importance when I am looking for a place to lay my head away from home, and why shouldn’t it be? Location also plays a large role for me, especially when I am in a destination for only a short amount of time. I mean, who wants an interminable commute back to a hotel after a long day of sightseeing?
With all this in mind, I enjoyed my recent hotel stay in Lisbon. Needing a respite from dreary, cloud-filled London last month, my boyfriend and I booked tickets for a weekend trip to Portugal’s capital. After my three visits to this wonderful city, I am hooked: Lisbon is amazing. The streets are alive with hustle and bustle, vibrant with colour, and fragrant with the smell of the bakeries selling pasteis de nata on every corner.
All this activity was just a stone’s throw away from our homebase, the Inspira Santa Marta hotel. Located right near the end of the tree-lined Avenida de Liberdade, one of the city’s most important avenues, we were very centrally located.
Lisbon is one of Western Europe’s most underrated capital cities, and from the superbly located Inspira Santa Marta we were able to explore mostly on foot. We were a fifteen minute walk from the Praça do Commercio (Lisbon’s grand main square) and the Rossio train station, from which one can hop a train to nearby attractions like Sintra.
Many restaurants serving seafood dishes and traditional Portuguese dishes like bacalhau were within a five minute walk. If you don’t mind a longer walk or a metro ride, I highly recommend making a stop at Cervejaria Ramiro, where we had a spectacular meal of prawns, clams, and parma ham.
But more about the hotel itself. After a 15 minute taxi ride from the airport, we arrived late on a Friday night and were greeted warmly by the people at the reception who speedily checked us in. The design of the Inspira Santa Marta is clean and modern, which contrasts sharply with the charming, old world architecture just beyond its doors. The lobby and the common areas have an open plan that make you feel as though you are outside when you are really not; on sunny days the main atrium is flooded with light.
The Inspira promotes a sustainability concept, most evident in the room we were given for the duration of our stay. Our room, on the fourth floor, was efficiently, almost spartanly, furnished. It was a lovely room, meticulously tidy, although, in drawing back the curtain from the window, we were disappointed that we didn’t have a view. In an effort to reduce waste, the complimentary water in our room and toiletries in the washroom were all in refillable screw-top vials and pump bottles, topped up every day by housekeeping. The floor is bare, surely uncarpeted so as to eliminate the wasteful energy emitted by a vacuum cleaner. In the same spirit, the lighting in the room is very dim; while it may be too dim for some, it did lend a romantic air to the room.
The room also has a very open plan, which, while nice, may present a few issues. At first, the washroom appeared to have no door on it, but then I came to realize that the panel of the closet located just adjacent was meant to be slid over and used as a door for the washroom. This was not a problem; in fact I thought that this was a pretty nifty idea. However, the wall that separated the bedroom from the washroom was designed in such a way that it left a sizeable gap, which meant that water from the shower was able to seep out into the room. I also noticed that this wall was fairly sheer, to the point where I could very clearly see the outline of my boyfriend as he took a shower. This lack of privacy may be a problem for people sharing a room who do not know each other intimately.
The breakfast is hearty, with an assortment of fresh pastries and fruit to sate even the largest appetite (be sure to eat the croissants — they are fantastic!). There is an assortment of teas and fresh juices (in refillable glass bottles, of course), and coffee can be ordered from the many waiting staff milling about the breakfast area, a smart restaurant-type deal found on the ground floor of the hotel. Additionally, there is a station where eggs are made to order. The hotel is also equipped with a small spa area where I was treated to a relaxing hour-long massage by a very capable therapist.
All things considered, the Inspira Santa Marta was a great base for our weekend jaunt to Lisbon: clean, pleasingly decorated, and extremely well located. It is also great value for money: a room for two including breakfast will run you under 115 GBP (and should you opt to grab breakfast at one of the numerous bakeries in the area instead of the hotel, a room can be had at under 95 GBP).
Hotel Inspira Santa Marta , R. de Santa Marta 48, 1150-297 Lisboa, Portugal Tel: +351 210 440 900
Reservation enquiries email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oneika Raymond is a serial expat and travel junkie who has travelled to over 60 countries on 6 continents and manages to balance long term travel with a full time career. Oneika writes at Oneika the Traveller and you can also connect with her on her Facebook page and on Twitter @OneikaTraveller
Many thanks to Hotel Inspira Santa Marta, who hosted Oneika’s stay at the hotel.
More articles from Oneika’s trip to Lisbon
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