When you're talking about the International Design Hotel, you have to wonder what came first - was it the restaurant or the hotel? The hotel does sound like the parent and thus could play the chicken to the restaurant's proverbial egg – whose father is unknown. No really, the restaurant's name is Bastardo, and yes, it means that in Portuguese too. Bastardo displays the creative side of an illegitimate child of Portuguese cuisine. It has a teasing and biting sense of humour (the walls include paintings telling people to drop dead, but don't take them personally, OK?), and it is unpretentious. The same goes for the hotel, whose sole flaw is being rather small for all the stories it has to tell.
But back to the beginning: the International Design Hotel's gets 10 out of 10 marks for its location, on the corner of the Rua da Betesga and the Rua Augusta, in the middle of the Rossio. It only lacks official recognition to be a national monument, with its ancient facade being one of Lisbon's oldest. A complete renovation in 2009 cleaned up the dust and brought the city centre a hotel with a strong personality. Its 55 rooms are small, you won't be able to throw a party in them, but they make up for that with their design options, based on four major themes: Urban, Feeling, Zen and Pop. Each comes with its own scent although, to be honest, we couldn't tell the difference. Everywhere guests are greeted by quotations from Alice in Wonderland, Andy Warhol and even traditional sayings. The hotel doesn't have a wide range of services but it does possess a winter garden in the centre of the building. For workout addicts that even on holiday must get their fix, the hotel has a deal with a fitness studio, and it offers theme tours of the city. Indeed, you could hardly ask for a better starting point for touring Lisbon on foot.
Time Out tip: Upon leaving the hotel, take a left turn and walk a few metres until you get to the Confeitaria Nacional, Lisbon's oldest pastry shop, established 185 years ago. Inside, the hard part will be making your pick among so many tasty treats. If you're into really sweet traditional pastry, don't leave with trying the babá, a miniature sweet loaf covered in a sugary syrup, whipped cream and egg angel hair.