When it comes to choosing a place to stay, we know the Time Out traveller wants more than a list of the best-known hotel chains. Lisbon is a city bursting at the seams with fresh, modern, one-of-a-kind hotels that’ll make your stay in town that little bit special. When drawing up this list, we took into account design, location, service, amenities, architecture and value for money, while also considering their general vibe and aesthetic. Now all you need to do is book...
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The coolest hotels in Lisbon
The Memmo Príncipe Real is the group’s third hotel in Portugal (their first opened in 2007 in the Algarve, followed six years laters by Alfama). Unlike a lot of the city, which has become a major tourist destination in recent years, this area remains a ‘Lisboner’s Lisbon’ district that attracts a trend-savvy cosmopolitan crowd. What you don’t find many of around here, however, are hotels, which makes this one particularly special. Its purpose-built, modern style also sets it apart from the Pombaline aesthetic of downtown Lisbon.
Football fans, this one’s for you (although, tbh, most people would enjoy a stay here). The Pestana Group’s second hotel takes its lead from the enviable lifestyle of Portugal’s most famous footballer. Book in here and you’ll get to enjoy the same home comforts the Real Madrid star likes to have around, including a suite with a Playstation where you, like Christiano Ronaldo, can get some downtime with a few games on FIFA.
If green space means a lot to you, you’ll appreciate the delightful gardens of the Hotel da Estrela. Set within the old palace of the Counts of Paraty, this is one of Lisbon’s only hotels with significant outdoor areas. So even if you struggle to find free space in the nearby Estrela Garden just down the road, you can guarantee a spot to enjoy the sun within the hotel environs itself. With just 19 rooms and suites, the hotel also offers a more intimate experience than most, and the staff are always happy to assist in any way possible.
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.
Belém includes the city's most famous monuments, such as the Belém Tower, the Jerónimos Monastery and the Pastéis de Belém pastry shop (not, strictly speaking, a monument, but it might as well be). You would expect hotels to mushroom around here. But they don't, and so Altis Belém had space to grow undisturbed by competitors to become a luxury hotel with a Michelin restaurant. Modern on the inside and out, its trademark is the Tagus – it is very close to riverside. Within you will find a quasi-futurist setting unafraid of empty spaces and minimalist decoration, in a black and white scheme that only varies in theme rooms inspired by Portugal's former colonies.
Many people don't even know that beyond the Decadente and Insólito restaurant/bars there is a hotel both original and lively, one of the few in Lisbon with two very different lodging options: the economic one, with triple bunk beds, and the posh one, with double suites including a terrace facing the São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint or the castle hill. One of the aims of the Independent Collective brand is to appeal to more than one market segment. What this actually means is a hotel where backpackers and moneyed tourists rub shoulders – but no guests under age 16 are allowed. And it is one of the city's coolest hotels thanks not only to a bold décor but to the charming century-old building.
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.
Its 72 rooms come with a choice of view, according to how much peace and quiet you require. There is the front of the hotel, overlooking the busy Avenida da Liberdade, a lovely boulevard with its share of heavy traffic and nervous honking; or you can face the backyard patio, where the bar's outdoors tables are placed, which offers a rare commodity in the city centre: silence. Conceived by and for young people, in Fontecruz the leisure areas share an open space with the lobby. After checking in we felt tempted to immediately take a detour towards the bar before going up to the room, but we're well behaved and waited patiently until 2pm. At the Bar Small and Delicious (also a restaurant), the gin menu has scores of choices, which connaisseurs will appreciate.
A few years ago, the city's most traditional district had little to offer tourists apart from some local lodgings and budget hostels. A less money-conscious traveller looking for a fuller experience would have to look elsewhere. That lasted until the day the Memmo Group decided to up the stakes and start Alfama's first boutique hotel worthy of that name, youthful in spirit but much more ambitious than its neighbours. It is not a luxury hotel, neither is it meant to be one. Memmo wants to be a home away from home, and that requires an informal mood that would not fit in with the five-star model. There are 42 rooms of varying sizes, some with a balcony, others with larger areas to make up for a less inspiring view, and yet a few quieter ones overlooking the inner courtyard.
Born in 2010, Inspira Santa Marta is 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.