Just back from the most colourful capital city in Europe – Lisbon. What a fabulous destination for some winter sunshine and cultural exploration!
We inspected the newly renovated Four Seasons Ritz Lisbon and a new hotel converted from a palace ruin, The Lumiares.
Our marketing director Stephen Bailey was the lucky one to visit Portugal’s capital.
Lisbon is More Vibrant than Ever
This was my third time in Lisbon and it’s now my favourite European city destination.
Lisbon quickly enveloped me in its buoyant atmosphere. It’s not stuffy, formal or dominated by famous sights. This is a creative and colourful city with so much energy on the streets.
I find Lisbon to be heaven for explorers. Instead of big tick-list attractions a la Paris or Barcelona, Lisbon is where you dive down cobblestone streets and uncover the newest hotspots.
I loved staying in Bairro Alto because there’s so much to discover within walking distance. Cafes, buskers, seafood restaurants, crumbling buildings being transformed into hip hangouts, and dozens of designer boutiques.
Even in mid-November there was so much happening on the streets and plazas.
I can definitely recommend Lisbon outside of summer. Spring and autumn will be fantastic times to visit. And in summer the energy will be even higher.
Beaches, Live Music & Food
Even in November I was on the beach. My preference was to stay in the city and day trip to the coast, but you can easily stay on the beach and day trip to the city instead. I’d recommend this with families during the spring and summer.
I loved spending the evening in Alfama, where live fado music spilled out of dozens of bars. It was like a Portuguese neighbourhood street party, perfect to watch and listen to while eating fresh seafood on a restaurant terrace.
Lisbon’s culinary reputation continues to grow as well. The city is famous for its pastel de nata (custard tarts), but there’s been a surge of outstanding new restaurants. Four days simply wasn’t enough time to try all the restaurants I wanted to. Really, Lisbon is heaven if you’re a foodie.
This is my favourite capital city in Europe, because I could shape each day to my mood.
It’s a beach holiday, a city with a unique and authentic vibe, somewhere to go shopping, eating, drinking, exploring and just wandering around checking out new sights.
Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
Fresh from a recent renovation, Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon is a truly outstanding hotel. I really couldn’t find any faults here (and I really did try!).
The service and little touches were very memorable. Many hotels give a free gift for my one-year-old daughter. This Four Seasons gave her a bib and cotton toy basket, both embroidered with her name.
We stayed in a Premier Park View Room measuring 49 square metres. Anywhere else in Lisbon this would be called a suite. A huge marble bathroom with bathtub, big balcony with a view, sofa to lounge on and enormous bed.
I inspected the Superior and Deluxe room categories as well. Overall, even the entry-level room categories at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon are exceptional, all at least 42 square metres. Premier Park View Rooms are on the higher floors so the view is better.
There’s a large spa with a heated swimming pool on the ground floor (separate spa facilities for men and women). A stunning restaurant that received a Michelin star within two years of opening. Plus a gym and running track on the rooftop – is there a hotel gym cooler than this anywhere?
Recommendations for a Stay at Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon
Many rooms and most suites have been renovated during the last two years. Definitely make sure you take one of the renovated rooms or suites, as they are a much higher quality for the same price as accommodations they are yet to renovate.
The style is 1950s glamour, honouring when the hotel originally opened as a Ritz in 1959.
Particularly impressive is the art collection, with huge paintings all across the building. Mostly I will remember the space. Every floor has its own lounge area, which is great when you’re with a young child.
I inspected some of the suites and these all have standout features to consider, such as a walk-in closet bigger than a standard city hotel room.
What you enjoy in terms of space, the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz lacks a little in location. It’s only a 15-minute drive from the airport, so it’s convenient in this sense, but it is a little outside the action and more interesting neighbourhoods.
If you want the best hotel in Lisbon, with the most space and highest level of amenities, then book Four Seasons Hotel Ritz.
If you don’t plan to spend much time at your hotel, I’d recommend somewhere like The Lumiares instead.
The Lumiares, Lisbon
The Lumiares is an apartment-style hotel in the heart of Bairro Alto, Lisbon’s most happening area. The location is phenomenal for exploring the hippest parts of the city.
One of the hotspots is Lumi, the hotel’s rooftop restaurant. It’s regarded as the best brunch spot in all of Lisbon.
Brunch doesn’t start until 10:30 for non hotel guests. Which means guests like me could enjoy the brunch first – it’s included in the room rate.
Like Bairro Alto, The Lumiares has a young, creative vibe. The service is more informal but still a very good standard. For example, they give you a welcome kit including artisanal beers and wine from local, upcoming wineries.
While the Lumiares has the location, it doesn’t have much space. We had a one-bedroom suite which was significantly smaller than an entry-level room at the Four Seasons Ritz. It had a well-equipped kitchenette, very small lounge area and small bedroom. The bathroom felt quite cramped, especially after coming from the Four Seasons.
Overall I’d definitely recommend it to friends going on a city trip, or anybody who just wants a place to sleep and have a good breakfast, before a long day exploring.
Want to Explore Lisbon?
Lisbon as a Layover Destination
There are direct daily flights between Prague and Lisbon.
Lisbon can be a city break, a one-week holiday, or a great layover destination on route to exotic destinations in the Atlantic.
You can use Lisbon as a stop for a trip to Brazil or the island of Principe – this colourful city will make a great holiday contrast.
Lisbon is definitely growing in popularity though. I do wonder how long it will keep its authenticity and local charm. Two years? Five years? I just know that now is a prime time to visit, before it becomes too touristic.