Above: View from Verride Palácio Santa Catarina

Intimate Hotel Options in Lisbon

Lisbon owes much of its beauty and charm to its wealth of architectural treasures: gothic cathedrals and monasteries, Moorish castles and countless historic palaces and mansions. Credit the earthquake of 1755 for the city’s elegant visual coherence: Lisbon was almost entirely wiped out by the catastrophe and rebuilt in a consistent neoclassical style. Today many of those pastel-painted, red-roofed, azulejo-tiled buildings are being converted into boutique hotels, in part a response to the record number of visitors coming from overseas (a more than 12% increase since 2017). But it’s also testament to the city’s resurgent creative energy, which expresses itself in food, art, design and culture, in addition to hospitality.

Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon - Photo by Hideaway Report editor
A streetcar in Lisbon - Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Lisbon already has some fine luxury hotels, including the lavish 109-room Olissippo Lapa Palace and the stylish Valverde Hotel, located on tony Avenida da Liberdade. Another favorite, the Bairro Alto Hotel, reopens after extensive renovations later this month. But on a recent spring visit, I decided to check out a few of these more intimate options, each promising historical resonance, contemporary flair and five-star accommodation.

Santiago de Alfama

The lobby of Santiago de Alfama - Gonçalo Miller

Santiago de Alfama in Lisbon, Portugal - Photo by Hideaway Report editorMy first stop was the hilly Alfama neighborhood, where a 15th-century palace was converted a few years ago into the 19-room Santiago de Alfama. The city’s oldest quarter, Alfama wasn’t destroyed by the earthquake and hence retains a medieval atmosphere, with sharply angled alleyways and steep staircases converging onto cobblestoned plazas. The hotel sits on one such square, an ecru-colored building with striped awnings and tables set outside. A smiling staffer met me at the door as I arrived, ushering me past a skylit lobby tucked between two grand stone arches and into the reception area. This was a small, brightly wallpapered room lined with displays of Portuguese soaps, wines and jewelry. My room was not yet ready, so she gave me a map and suggested walking uphill to the Castelo de São Jorge, the Moorish-era citadel that sits at Alfama’s highest point and provides an ideal first perspective on Lisbon.

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Above: View from Verride Palácio Santa Catarina

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