International hub Lisbon Portela Airport (www.lisbon-airport.com) is the closest, just a 15-minute taxi ride from the hotel; EasyJet fly direct from major cities in the UK, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland. Transatlantic flights arrive via Madrid-Barajas; flights across the Pacific arrive via Abu Dhabi or Guangzhou Baiyun and Amsterdam Schipol.
Cais do Sodré station, on the green line of the Metro, is a 20-minute walk from the hotel. From here you can travel direct to coastal town Cascais, and negotiate your way through Lisbon’s neighbourhoods with ease.
The hotel is about a 30-minute walk from the city centre, just close enough to get around on foot. Most city sights can be reached by tram or metro, but if you’re planning to travel to the coast a car will come in handy. There’s an Avis car-hire booth at Lisbon Portela; take the 2nd Circular and IP7 motorways to reach the hotel.
Worth getting out of bed for
If the hotel’s given you a taste for the Lisbon of long ago, you’ll love exploring this ancient capital where the past is very much present. Baroque and Pombaline-style buildings in shades of saffron and amber rub shoulders with 1930s cafés, Moorish townhouses and divinely decorous monasteries while buttercup-yellow trams trundle by. Across the street from the hotel is the National Museum of Ancient Art (+351 213 912 800, www.museudearteantiga.pt); an impressive collection of decorative treasures both jewel-studded and saintly, including richly coloured portraiture, embroidery, ceramics and esoterica. In the mood for something modern? Warhol, Dali, Duchamp, perhaps… Plenty of dream dinner-party names pop up in in engrossing modern-art-toting Berardo Museum (+351 213 612 878, http://en.museuberardo.pt), a 10-minute tram ride away on Praça do Império. While in the Belém neighbourhood, stop off at the Jerónimos Monastery (+351 213 620 034, www.mosteirojeronimos.pt) and Belém Tower (+351 213 620 034, www.torrebelem.pt) – beautifully preserved 16th-century Unesco World Heritage sites. Take the 20-minute 728 tram east to sip a superlative coffee accompanied by Fado melodies in the vertiginous Alfama district; the Moorish Castle of São Jorge (+351 218 800 620, http://castelodesaojorge.pt) is close by.
Cosmopolitan and coastal, Lisbon seamlessly blends sightseeing, shopping and sunbathing. There are hidden coves and long stretches of sand close to the city, but Cascais – a pretty seaside town where Lisboetas frequently flock with surfboards in tow – makes a delightful day trip.
Aside from portholes of light set into the walls and a dove-grey cloud ‘chandelier’, everything in Alma Restaurant (+351 213 963 527, http://alma.co.pt) – a 10-minute walk away on Calçada Marquês Abrantes – is white; it’s striking, but the riotously coloured, meticulously presented Portuguese dishes are even more so. Diners at sociable, colourfully tiled Petiscaria Ideal (+351 213 971 504), on Rua Janelas Verdes, eat at communal tables, which are ideal for sharing traditional tapas-style food. The focus is on fish, with baby octopus and cuttlefish on the menu, but authentic country dishes such as caldo verde (cabbage and pork soup) pop up too. Sunshine-yellow Come Prima (+351 213 902 457, www.comeprima.pt), on Rua Olival, serves well-renowned Italian fare. Dishes are unassuming – lasagne, risotto, three-cheese pasta – but delicious.
Designed to evoke the establishments of Portugal’s past Café de São Bento (+351 395 292 111, www.cafesaobento.com) is outfitted with scarlet banquettes, marquetry tables and 19th-century portraits. The menu’s steaks are well renowned, but if all you’re hungering for is a snack, order your sirloin in a sandwich and wash it down with a small glass of red.
Just a 10-minute walk from the hotel, live-music venue Xafarix (+351 213 951 395)is where Lisbon locals go to enjoy, wine and song, and maybe a cocktail or two. Pop in for a glass of vinho verde and to hear some soulful Fado.