In a short time, this street known for its grease joints gained respectability and attracted new businesses: first a hotel, then a hamburger restaurant and later a tavern/flower shop. As for Inspira Santa Marta, it was born in 2010, discreetly nested next to the Condes de Redondo Palace.
At first, it seems a nondescript building. But it's like a Kinder chocolate egg – plain on the outside, full of surprises within. Upon stepping into the lobby, you will realize the hotel is much more ambitious than you might have previously thought. Don't expect gold-plated walls, but this utilitarian hotel has earned a positive reputation for its good taste and friendliness. It is a favourite among the LGBT community. There are 89 rooms; those on the ground floor are the plainest, but even they have a Nespresso machine, free wi-fi, glass window showers and biodegradable amenities by Ominsens - stuff worthy of a five-star hotel. Feng-shui principles determine the hotel configuration both inside and outside the rooms, which are ample, minimalist and very comfortable.
The Brasserie Mediterrânica restaurant is the first to have been certified gluten-free in Lisbon. Its kitchen opens towards the dining room, allowing you to watch the staff prepare their Mediterranean style cuisine, including vegan, vegetarian, lactose-free and diabetic-appropriate options. There is a gym, a spa with RitualSpa products, a small business centre and a personal trainer available for hire upon checking in. There is also a personal shopper, a precious help to navigate Avenida da Liberdade's luxury stores.
Time Out tip: The Taberna de Santa Marta, a few metres past the hotel, affords you the possibility to enjoy some traditional treats and snacks and surprise someone with a bouquet of fresh flowers. Yes, this is both a restaurant and a flower shop, and it accomplishes both things well. The wine list is good enough in itself to make it worthwhile dropping by for a late evening drink.