Lisbon, Portugal

Memmo Alfama

Price per night from$110.17

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR94.34), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

White and wonderful

Setting

Old town on the Tagus

Steps from São Jorge Castle and the River Tagus, Memmo Alfama hotel was once a shoe polish factory. It’s certainly scrubbed up well: sleek decor, bold street art and a see-and-be-seen terraced pool bar make this white and breezy townhouse a laid-back Lisbon bolthole.

Smith Extra

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A Portuguese custard tart and glass of liqueur for two

Facilities

Photos Memmo Alfama facilities

Need to know

Rooms

42, including one suite.

Check–Out

Noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.

Prices

Double rooms from £90.21 (€100), including tax at 6 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.00 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include a buffet breakfast of fresh fruits, pastries, cold meats and cheeses, as well as a selection of hot dishes such as eggs, bacon and crepes.

Also

Local street artist Vhils (a young, Portuguese Banksy) has left his mark on the building’s façade with a striking large-scale portrait of a former resident. Inside, housed in what was once a bakery, the library is stocked with books on Lisbon’s history.

At the hotel

Lounge, library, terrace, fitness room with free weights and a trio of cardio machines, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, minibar, Saboaria Portugueza toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Alfama Superior Room 8 has a small balcony with fantastic vistas over the river. Under the eaves, the spacious Mansard Junior Suite makes up for limited views with a killer bathroom. If it's a room with a view you want, rooms 33 and 22 have vistas of both the river and city. Bedrooms are fresh and clean-lined, with wide lime-washed floorboards, crisp white linens and deliciously comfortable beds stacked high with plump, inviting pillows. The bathrooms – all polished concrete floors, sleek infinity sinks and huge rain showers – have an equally seductive edge.

Poolside

Lined with iridescent red tiles, the unheated infinity pool is sleek but bijou – just the right size to dip a perfectly manicured toe in. Order poolside drinks on the decked terrace and take in those postcard-worthy views over the River Tagus.

Packing tips

Don’t even think about heels: leather sandals will fare much better on Lisbon’s slippery cobbled hills. Pick up a vintage tin at the flea market to fill with golden custard tarts before your flight home.

Also

One of the Alfama rooms on the ground floor is equipped for disabled guests. Smokers can indulge on the terrace only.

Children

Leave the children at home: Memmo Alfama is an adults-only stay.

Food and Drink

Photos Memmo Alfama food and drink

Top Table

If you can’t help whispering sweet nothings over your morning pastries, nab a couple of brown leather bucket seats at one of the tables for two.

Dress Code

Something crisp and comfortable to explore the city; cool cottons and elegant flats will do the trick.

Hotel restaurant

None, but breakfast in served in the Living Room, a laid-back Scandinavian-inspired space gently lit by a light well in the ceiling from the terrace above. Take a seat at the long communal wooden table and help yourself from the buffet and the Smeg fridge, well stocked with milk, juice and yoghurts. After breakfast, the Wine Bar has a tapas menu for the peckish; put up your feet on the terrace and snack on plates of Portuguese ham croquettes, octopus salad and tender veal loin.

Hotel bar

You’ll find a scattering of Carrara marble tables and a wall of local wines, ports and champagnes at the Wine Bar, but the real action is outside: walk through the sliding glass doors and pick a spot on the poolside terrace. Head for the furthest deck, flanked by glass barriers, for the best views of the higgledy-piggledy jumble of red-roofed houses tumbling down to the riverfront.

Last orders

Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 11am. The bar’s small plates are served until 10pm.

Room service

The Wine Bar’s tapas menu is available until 11pm.

Location

Photos Memmo Alfama location
Address
Memmo Alfama
27 Travessa Das Merceeiras Alfama
Lisbon
1100-348
Portugal

The hotel is in Lisbon’s traditional district of Alfama, steps away from the cathedral and São Jorge castle, with views down to the river.

Planes

The closest airport is Lisbon International, a 20-minute drive from the hotel, with flights to many destinations in Europe, particularly in the summer months from June to September.

Trains

Santa Apolónia station, a 10-minute drive from the hotel, serves CP trains to major Portuguese cities such as Oporto, Coimbra, Aveiro and Faro.

Automobiles

The hotel is well served by public transport and there’s plenty to explore on foot in Memmo Alfama’s neighbourhood, so you may not need your own set of wheels. If you’re planning on exploring further afield, the hotel is an easy drive from the cathedral square; go along the left side of the cathedral and take the second street on the right, Travessa das Merceeiras: Memmo Alfama is at the very end of the cobbled alley. Public parking near the hotel costs €15 a day including valet parking (from 9am to 5pm); it’s best to drop your bags off at the hotel first.

Other

Hop on the eléctrico 28, Lisbon’s retro yellow tram that trundles past the end of the alley. It’s been dubbed the ‘tourist tram’ with good reason: just hop on and off to take in the city’s flea market, panoramic views from the hilltops and the downtown and historic districts.

Worth getting out of bed for

Spend your days gently meandering down charming neighbourhood paths: Alfama is a labyrinth of mediaeval alleyways, tiny plazas and hidden staircases. Stop to marvel at the city’s most iconic landmarks, the Sé Cathedral and the imposing São Jorge Castle. Nearby Chiado and Bairro Alto are excellent for shopping; pick up a pair of butter-soft leather gloves at Luvaria Ulisses. No Lisbon visit could be complete without a tour on the trundling tram 28, or a refuelling pit-stop at Pastéis de Belém for velvety custard tarts, just round the corner from the architectural splendour of the Jerónimos Monastery and the fairytale Belém Tower. Embark on your own treasure hunt at the Feira da Ladra (the ‘thieves market’, now a bustling and perfectly legal affair) to pick up some quirky one-of-a-kind souvenirs, or wind down from a day of sightseeing with a walk along the sparkling stretch of the River Tagus.

Local restaurants

Below the cathedral, Taberna Moderna adds contemporary flourishes to the traditional tavern, with stainless-steel hanging lamps, mismatched chairs, and an inspired fusion menu. Portuguese, Spanish and Japanese flavours mingle in heaped plates of fideuà (a paella-like noodle dish), cuttlefish rice and grilled sesame tuna. A highlight is the Lisbonita Gin Bar, serving only gin from its 70-strong collection, and mixed just as you like it by the expert bar staff. Down a winding Alfama street, intimate Duetos da Sé is a family affair serving classic Portuguese dishes; the cream tart with cinnamon ice-cream gets rave reviews. Live jazz and Fado performances set the mood if you stop by in the evening. A 20-minute stroll from the hotel, Taberna Tosca serves traditional Portuguese tapas, or petiscos, on the serene Praça São Paulo. Dine inside the cosy low-lit tavern or outside on the square, next to the 18th-century church. Let the sommelier guide you through the extensive wine list: order by the glass for the perfect pairing with each small plate of local cheeses, fresh seafood and cured meats. Hailed as serving the best seafood in Lisbon, Cervejaria Ramiro is a laid-back local favourite. Start with sizzling garlic prawns, fresh lobster and crab plucked from the in-house tanks, follow with a hearty steak sandwich and wash it all down with cold, crisp beers. The restaurant doesn't take bookings, so arrive early or be prepared to queue.

Local cafés

Pois Café nestles at the back of the cathedral, a bright and cheery space under lofty arches. Stop by for comforting soups, hearty lunches, a cocktail or a slice of something sweet from the Austrian bakers.

Local bars

By day, Guilty serves paper-thin-crust pizzas and indulgent pasta dishes from the open-air kitchen. Come nightfall, after the last sinful chocolate fondant has been devoured, the cowhide-covered restaurant floor becomes a club dancefloor, where resident DJs and mixologists keep the party going until the small hours. If you’re in the mood for something more traditional, the renowned Clube de Fado plays host every night to melancholy-fuelled Fado performers. Go full-on traditional with bacalhau and grilled goat chops beneath the stone columns and curvaceous arched ceilings.

Reviews

Photos Memmo Alfama reviews
 Ana Silva O’Reilly

Anonymous review

By Ana Silva O’Reilly , Globe-trotting blogger

Trekking around Lisbon can be an uphill challenge at the best of times, but things get particularly tricky in the quaint, atmospheric district of Alfama. Dropping us off, the taxi driver told us to walk 100 metres up one of the narrow alleys and turn right. After walking, turning, walking, turning, and dragging my fat Tumi, we found nothing. What we did get to appreciate was one of Lisbon’s most traditional neighbourhoods as its residents went about their day-to-day lives. At a bakery, we stopped to ask where Memmo Alfama is – it was a mile away. High noon and the sun was out – but we were determined to get there, and somehow (including a little wheel damage caused by Lisbon’s charming cobblestoned streets), we made it. Turns out that Memmo Alfama is still a well-kept secret – and it isn’t difficult to get there. If you know where it is.

It was too early for our room to be ready, but that wasn’t a problem: checked in, we had a special day planned in Lisbon. This was a rare chance for me to enjoy my hometown as a regular tourist. Still, we couldn’t set off without first getting an eyeful of the view from this prime perch.

This townhouse has been sensitively refreshed from its shoe-polish-factory past with clean lines, tactile furnishings and a bold graffiti mural. Navigating through the hotel’s common areas – a smart living room and a communal-style dining room, which has an air of Scandinavian design with Portuguese touches – I soon found the stairs that led to the terrace. I had seen photos of the sexy red infinity plunge pool, but seeing it up close with Lisbon’s old town at our feet was something else.

Our busy day out and about included a private visit to the top of the freshly revived triumphal Rua Augusta Arch. (We booked our visit through Exclusive by TLC,) After such a concentrated dose of sightseeing, we were ready to return to Memmo. And with only one night there, we planned not leave again until we absolutely had to. Lisbon is a city of steep alleyways and tricky cobblestones best explored, rather cruelly, on foot. This picturesque slice of old-school, red-roofed Portugal clings determinedly to the hillside above a wide, beguiling stretch of the River Tagus – usually you need to clamber up the slopes for heart-stirring vistas, duck past tempting tabernas and Fado restaurants and crane your neck to gawp at some of the capital’s most iconic castles and churches. Thankfully, you’ll find blissful respite from all this strenuous exploring at this soothing, bright white bolthole steps from the cathedral.

When we got to our room, my husband led the way. (He always likes to be one step ahead, which is fine by me.) One foot in the door, after a quick peek he said with a smile: ‘Either you go in or the suitcases do – your choice.’ To say our room was cosy is an understatement. I love the design and quirky details, like the fabric mailbox, with great suggestions for things to do around town, but as the hotel was fully booked, we had no choice but to take a patio room. In I went and the Tumi put to rest in the surprisingly spacious sleek concrete-floored bathroom with its fabulous walk-in shower. Bright-yellow loo paper to match the decor set a new standard for attention to detail.

We decided that our baby room was a great place to sleep but we were happiest out on that terrace; we cancelled evening plans to stay put and enjoy our base. The rooftop bar is a dream if you’re a G&T fan, here a gin-tônic comes in a proper gin goblet, nothing like the silly glasses with three ice cubes we get back in the UK. Although Memmo Alfama doesn’t have a formal restaurant, it serves fantastic tapas – so a few minutes later, the friends that came to meet us for dinner were also quickly mesmerised by the river views. We loved dining on Portuguese delicacies such as fried beans, cheese, octopus and charcuterie, pairing it with delicious gins. (We found the wine list limited for Portugal but I never say no to a Gin Mare or G’Vine.) Everything was perfect – simple and so peaceful, but not too quiet. At around midnight, the bar closed but we were told to make ourselves at home and just leave when we were ready. It was at 1.30am when we finally left the cosy sofa and made our way to our room.

Pared-down and inviting, the rooms have warm wooden flooring and big beds with plump pillows. We slept wonderfully and woke in true Portuguese fashion – that’s to say not so early – immediately agreeing it was time for breakfast with those views. Memmo Alfama lays on a great spread of Portuguese classics such as four types of delicious bread, cheeses and hams and there’s a wonderful big fat Smeg fridge where you help yourself to freshly squeezed fruit juices. I want one at home! Eggs and cooked dishes are made to order and brought to you wherever you want them. Naturally, as it was summer in Lisbon we chose outside by the glass wall on the terrace; sat side by side at a bar-style table, we just savoured the lookout over the red rooftops, the pool and the river. I am not usually a morning person, but sipping my Nespresso in the fresh air seeing Portugal’s capital city come to life soon brought me round. Then, for the rest of the day the sultry ruby-red pool was all ours.
 

Price per night from $110.17

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