The coolest hotels in Lisbon
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.
Young and stylish enough, this 45-room boutique hotel is located in the nexus between the Chiado and the renewed Ribeira das Naus (a riverside “beach” of sorts). It is geared at young folks, to whom it caters with an artsy but relaxed vibe. Being in the middle of the “movida” scene makes this hotel a typical example of the cool side of Lisbon that puts the city among the world's most seductive destinations. The design options aren't particularly bold, and at a time when boutique hotels compete for pizazz this can be a relief (sometimes less really is more), as it helps create an intimate, home-style environment. This might be a minus if you're not into raw fish but a plus if you love sushi: the hotel's restaurant, Confraria LX, is 100% devoted to Japanese cuisine.
Hidden in an old 17th century convent in a Lapa hill facing the Tagus, this small boutique hotel has been open for business for more than 100 years. Where once Carmelite sisters wandered, now tourists roam in search of their cloisters. True, the current configuration is modern, but this is not a party destination: rather it is a quiet haven away from the crowds, a peaceful sanctuary with an easy access to the city centre. You might even wonder if you had the right address on your way in, as you meet the unassuming lobby and the friendly but subdued staff. There is still something monastic about the 32 rooms, with their austere lines and antique furniture pieces, as if reminiscent from the building's former use. But that was then, and now you can expect large rooms with big four-poster beds, bedside tables built out of old doors, modern fixtures and clear tones that make the rooms even sunnier.
The 19 rooms are all different in size, and even the most affordable ones include a range of amenities that you would not normally find in a boutique hotel: lots of space, a large bed, a full bathroom including, in some rooms, an old-style tub. There is neither a pool nor a garden, understandably so given the sloping terrain. But the roomy building allows for some extravagances, including an abundance of places to eat and drink: three different venues, each with a different style and purpose. At the Audrey café – named after the glamorous Ms. Hepburn – breakfast is served à la carte and has an immense selection of eggs, pancakes, toast, tea, yogurt and fruit. For lunch or supper, there's two good choices: Fábrica de Santiago and Manny's Bar.
Brown's Central is everything but dull. Despite being located in the middle of Pombaline dowtown in an old building, it does not seek to impress through its link to the city's history. Instead, it breaks through the stigma of the hotel as a closed-off space to be a meeting point and an arts venue. Its bar and restaurant both have a cultural program with pop-up concerts and chats, and they are trendy gathering points for artists and prospecting gallerists. The place has an arty feel: a revivalist style recreating the café scene of the early 20th century, combining vintage furniture and contemporary artworks. The common areas have an intimate and familiar feel: walls are painted in strong colours, the floor is tiled and there is an Art Déco-inspired counter.
The hotel has 47 rooms, some of them with a balcony or a patio, but the best view is from the sixth floor terrace, where you can see Lisbon all the way to the river, ideally with sunglasses on while holding a glass of wine. Downstairs, there is no restaurant but Le9 serves light meals; there is also room service. It is important however to notice that the bar does not specialize in food but in mixology: their original cocktail menu is infusion based – they have a great selection of teas. Breakfast is a neverending food festival, so you'd better pace yourself: homemade yogurt, detox juices, “nata” tarts, croissants, five varieties of bread, bacon and eggs are some of the offering. Free parking is available, and so is free wi-fi throughout the hotel.
The story is MyStory Rossio's, a simple and cheerful hotel whose reputation as one of Lisbon's best goes beyond its excellent location, in the middle of the Rossio. Imagine a clash between the 17th century and a pop art invasion – that's what you will find here. The lobby has stone arcades and neon lights, the bar has ancient tiles, chandeliers and design furniture, the rooms (46 of them) have signs on the wall reading Fado, Lisboa and Amor (fado, Lisbon and love), to let you know romance is part of the story. In 18 of the rooms you will get a view of the Rossio, and you should demand one of them: it's a rare privilege to get to watch the city parading in front of you.
Located at the Rua Jardim do Regedor, the hotel is rather conspicuous thanks mostly to the deep red that colours this 1900 building, where once a B&B operated. The reddish tones are also to be found inside as part of the bold decoration by designer João Rolo. Expect a friendly, relaxed hotel that wants its guests to feel at home. Very little remains from its previous B&B incarnation, and the space was well divided to fit 56 rooms in just five floors. Some effort was needed to assemble such a puzzle, but the results were good and we can assure you that the rooms, though not huge, are comfortable and spacious enough for a good night's rest after a day of walking around.
HF Fénix Music is not just a music-tribute hotel, it's a whole sensory experience. All 109 rooms have a theme, from rock to pop to classical music to fado, and every one is equipped with all you need to create you own private disco: Bluetooth sound systems, Internet access touchscreens and even dynamic, disco-style lighting. Music is everywhere: the front desk is drum set-shaped, the bar resembles a piano keyboard. On top of the building you will find a small oasis that will make you forget you're in the centre of Lisbon: a lounge terrace with a swimming pool and a bar with a broad view of the castle. The restaurant serves breakfast only – such a great establishment could do more. At the bar you can chat and have beer either at the counter or on the couch, everything lit as if on a dance floor.
When it comes to the Hotel Santa Justa, the secret, the X-factor may be the well-stocked minibar. That and the Pombaline downtown location, in a centenarian building surrounded by cafés, shops and restaurants, five minutes away from the Chiado and the Terreiro do Paço – great destinations for shopping and dining. There is no restaurant at the hotel, but one is not needed: there is a multitude of options nearby and the bar offers not only a vast drink menu but also snacks. The 55 rooms are modernly styled and spacious – family rooms and attic suites are huge and come with a Nespresso coffee machine, to give you one last shot of adrenalin before getting in line for the Santa Justa Lift, right next door.