Never has such a small hotel had such a glamorous location as this one, next to the iconic Casa dos Bicos (“house of spikes”), right at Alfama's door.
The Riverside Alfama is the perfect starting point for a random tour of fado houses and typical eateries in the neighbourhood. Its 21 rooms are both generous in size and cosy; they also seem out of the same conveyor belt, given how their layout and décor are identical – or at least very similar.
Whatever they might lack in originality they make up in comfort (great beds) and convenience (the hotel is five minutes from downtown or the Lisbon Cathedral, and less than 150 metres away from the Tagus). Breakfast is the only meal served, but once you step out on the street you will find a wide range of dining options – many of them with unbelievable views. Needless to say, tradition remains strong in Alfama, and thus fado prevails over any other music genre. Every other door you are likely to find people singing or dining, or maybe even both. Just order a snack and a glass of red wine and join the party.
You can rent bikes at the hotel lobby, but be prepared for the steep inclines of Lisbon hills.
Time Out tip: The Bela de Alfama is an out-of-its-time business that became seriously successful. Not yet 10 years old, it has already turned into one of the area's most respected fado places. Traditional snacks are served – such as a classic roast chorizo – and so are wine and beer. Even when there is no music on the official program, there will inevitably be singing through the night.