The best hotels in Baixa and Rossio
The Portuguese word “pousada” usually means no-frills lodging for short stays. That is not what's on offer here. The newest addition to the Pestana Group family is the fulfilment an old promise to the city; some doubters thought Lisbon would never be a part of the Pousadas de Portugal roster. Last year it finally came to be, as this “Pousada” with a capital P moved into a Pombaline-style building in the Terreiro do Paço, which once housed Portugal's Interior Ministry. Inside you will find a cosmopolitan, luxurious hotel, one that proudly displays its commitment to Portuguese arts. Its corridors and salons have art niches with tapestries by Nadir Afonso and sculptures of St. Anthony. The building's original high ceilings and wooden floors have been preserved.
A day in the life of the world's best – this is the Pestana Group's proposal at the new CR7, the chain's second hotel (the first is located in Funchal, Madeira) inspired by Portugal's celebrated footballer and aimed at a millennial crowd. Interactive, modern and connected, Pestana CR7 brings to Lisbon a seductive offer: to have a glimpse at a day in the life of Ronaldo, and enjoy the same comforts and extravagances that the Real Madrid star expects to find away from home. This includes perks such as a suite equipped with a Playstation – Ronaldo himself says that wherever he is, there is always a game of FIFA and a pair of controllers around.
In the 1950s, tourism in Lisbon didn't go much beyond the city centre and castle areas. Staying in this hotel at the Martim Moniz square, a couple of minutes' walk from the Rossio, thus meant staying smack in the middle of the fun part of town, right next to all the typical food joints, the theatre houses and Lisbon's bohemian nightlife spots. More than half a century later, a lot has changed in the city, but Mundial's reputation remains intact. The square earned and then ditched a “rough” image, and has now become a fusion food market. As Lisbon grew, so did the Mundial, while keeping its old charm. The hotel remains a favourite of families, tour groups and business travellers.
The hotel is, inside and out, a worthy representative of late 1940s glamour. Its 70 rooms and suites, divided over six floors, are both kitschy and futuristic, with Art Déco features such as the golden, purple and wooden details, contrasting with the black and white contemporary decoration. The 16 Deluxe rooms have a balcony; all rooms have marble bathrooms and Egyptian cotton bed linens. Here's a tip – room 206 is the only one with a balcony in its bathroom. But if you really want the full retro-chic Altis experience, then ask for one of the (just two) suites.
This boutique hotel opened in March 2016 and it occupies an 18th century Pombaline building, one of many erected after the 1755 earthquake. But don't think that crossing the number 20 door at the Praça do Município is some sort of time travel. Alma Lusa is modern and relaxed, geared towards a young crowd. It does have some elements of Portuguese history in its identity – the Alma Lusa Hotels group logo, for instance: that is a traditional Portuguese knocker – no adolescent jokes, please -, a small ring or iron-cast hand used either as locks for gates and doors or to knock on them. With its 28 rooms, it's a street away from the Chiado, the Ribeira das Naus and the busy downtown streets.
Inside are 53 rooms in a contemporary style, low on frills but high on comfort, next to the Figueira Square. This is an excellent area of the city, close to the Rossio, the Chiado and the Cathedral, where you can enjoy the best Lisbon has to offer without having to go far. This includes the Deck, a traditional Lisbon patio turned into a café. The Portugal Boutique Hotel also offers other quality alternatives, including access to the bar and two restaurants at the nearby Hotel Mundial. One of these is the Varanda de Lisboa, where traditional Portuguese food is served with a panoramic view to the city and the river.
This Belle Époque style hotel opened for business in 1892, and has often been praised as one of Europe's finest and prettiest. It was designed by José Luís Monteiro, the same master builder who conceived the facade of the nearby Rossio train station. Avenida Palace precedes by many decades the big tourist boom. It survived the Portuguese republican revolution, the Spanish civil war and both world wars, while being a major venue for political intrigue and espionage – or so some say. Its 82 rooms and suites face Lisbon's centre. The bathrooms are marble, the decoration is Spartan.
Getting to the Solar dos Mouros, a small boutique hotel near the castle, is not easy, but staying in the historic centre does entail some walking. Indeed, you will walk, cut through narrow alleys that look like they're going nowhere, climb a few steps, turn around to enjoy the view, slip a couple of times on the pavement and right when you're about to question the accuracy of Google Maps, you will see, hiding among the trees, an old house with 13 rooms. The “old” part refers only to the facade – inside you will find a bold decoration based on chromatic shock – walls come in red, yellow, blue, green and orange (no, really). Your first impression will be that of an artist's studio, and you wouldn't be too far from the truth.
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.
The 7 Hotel opened for business in 2015 and alongside its traditional rooms it offers studios with kitchenettes, so that you can prepare your own meals. There is no restaurant precisely because none is necessary; located at the Rua do Ouro, linking the Terreiro do Paço and Rossio squares, there is a world of dining options in a 300-metre radius: grease holes, world cuisine, fine pastry shops, good traditional groceries, gourmet shops and wine stores where you can get anything you require for a proper meal. The view from the hotel's 37 rooms is not especially broad, but it offers a nice panorama of one of downtown's busiest streets. Due to the building Pombaline style, rooms come in varying sizes and floorplans.