If you watch the travel business as closely as we do, you’ve probably got a question: why is Lisbon so hot all of a sudden? Long famous for such old-fashioned charms as its blue-tinted azulejo tilework, its legendary seafood, and its picture-perfect tramlines, Lisbon is also a destination in the middle of a renaissance of cool. Street art and hot new restaurants decorate gentrifying neighborhoods, and the hotel scene is suddenly blooming. If you’re interested in experiencing Lisbon’s renewal up close, we’ve got somewhere to stay in each of the major neighborhoods, from luxury boutiques to hip hostels.
First things first. Approaching from the Atlantic, we make landfall in Cascais, the fishing village that’s become the gateway to the Portuguese Riviera. From here it’s 40 minutes by train along the riverside to the rapidly evolving suburb of Belém, which marks the western boundary of the city, where the river meets the sea, and where the view of the sailboats on the Tagus inevitably gives you a craving for rosé.
A beautiful example of palatial architecture, this 19th-century edifice, property of the Count of Cabral, is considered one of Portugal’s hippest hotels, the sort of place where you’ll lounge for hours, staring out to sea, where there’s nothing to worry about beyond the timing of your next drink.
An ancient fortress, this pousada is immense, modern, and cosmopolitan, is the very picture of the well-executed contemporary luxury hotel. Nearby, the old buildings and the cobbled courtyards remind us of the history of these spaces, and the quiet atmosphere allows us to attend to purely spiritual pursuits.
A hotel at the confluence of sun and sea: by the side of the Tagus, surrounded by the marina’s yachts, its immaculate interiors, gleaming in the sunlight, and its pearlescent interiors, windows lit by the setting sun, form a monument to the pleasures of idleness.
Meanwhile, in Lisbon proper, the two popular historic districts are the Alfama Hill, dominated by the Castelo de São Jorge, and Graça, with its famous Miradouros, the terraced viewpoints that overlook the city, offering the sort of romantic sunset moments that’ll bring more tears to your eyes than a whole evening of fado.
A little jewel of a neo-Moorish palace with Art Nouveau interiors, the Palacete Chafariz D’El Rei is the hotel of choice for stars of film, art, and fashion when they’re on Alfama’s slopes. Its six suites, luxurious and romantic, are equal parts modern and traditional.
Constructed within the grounds of St. George’s Castle, on the site of the old royal palace’s kitchens, this charming little hotel enjoys an ideal location in the heights of Alfama. On a sunny day, it’s possible to see the castle’s peacocks making the rounds below the balconies.
Alfama still, between the Santa Maria Maior cathedral and the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, for this immaculate 19th-century building, lovingly restored and converted into an affordable boutique hotel. The panoramic view from the rooftop terrace makes for a breakfast to remember.
The prestigious avenue at the center of Lisbon, modeled in the 19th century after the Champs-Élysées, is an important artery for commerce and tourism: luxury boutiques, lush gardens, fountains, mosaic sidewalks, and hotels that are among the capital’s most elegant.
The purest dose of Art Deco. In this building, designed in 1942 by architect Cassiano Branco, you’ll find a fusion of retro, modern, lacquered wood, polished chrome, white marble, and exquisite parquet cork. It’s stylish, perfectly suited to its location a block from Vuitton and Prada.
Under an exterior of stucco and stone, standard enough on this cobblestone street, the Inspira Santa Marta might seem unremarkable. But once inside, through an airy lobby and a walkway striped with shadows, you can measure this establishment’s ambition by its perfectly judged feng shui.
While many apartment-hotels are content to prioritize laundry facilities and kitchenettes to any semblance of aesthetic distinction, the Lisbonaire has chosen not to choose: it offers both at once. It’s the best budget option in this neighborhood and beyond.
Baixa is literally the “lower city” of Lisbon, a network of low-lying commercial streets playing hopscotch between Rossio and Praça do Comércio. It adjoins the Chiado, an atmospheric cultural district that’s home to many of the city center’s best traditional seafood restaurants.
Portugal’s history has been privatized and turned into hospitality. Here you sleep on the famous plaza, in an ancient government building advantageously placed within fifty meters of the Tagus. The rooms are luxe, the suites extravagant. And as for the Dom Perignon suite, it’s all in the name!
Opened on Rossio Square, at the heart of medieval Lisbon, the Internacional Design Hotel knows every tune in the design-boutique songbook: Pop-Art bedrooms, Verner Panton chairs, spotted carpets, flashy colors, hydromassage tubs, and gaming consoles in the bedrooms. Dreamy.
Banish from your mind the image of the sweaty, messy youth hostel. The Lisbon Destination Hostel, located in a railway station of particular architectural distinction, is crystal-clear, bathed in light, thoughtfully conceived, and still affordable. A winning combination.
Epicenter of Lisbon’s nightlife, the Bairro Alto mixes genres and styles, alternative bars and piercing parlors sharing common ground with avant-garde artists and fado houses. Descending towards the river, Bica opens endless possibilities, especially if sailor bars are your thing.
Chic, refined, with an eye-catching yellow facade, the Bairro Alto Hotel is nevertheless most famous for its location on one of Lisbon’s most emblematic squares, the Praça Luís de Camões. The poet whose name it bears, a major player in the sonnet game, would find it a fitting tribute.
Here you’ll find no frills, no excessively flashy design gestures — the LX uses the city of Lisbon as its touchstone. Each floor is a tribute to a vital aspect of the bustling Portuguese capital, from Fado to Pessoa to the Tagus itself, courtesy of the view.
If you understand a little bit of the Portuguese language, you already know what awaits you in this Bairro Alto hotel, with its undulating facade and its recycled interiors: a house with a view of the city. It’s new to our collection, but sure to be a hit.
In Santos, the new design district on the banks of the Tagus, showrooms and splendid old houses brush up against concept stores and edgy galleries. Above, you enter into Lapa, where the high concentration of embassies guarantees a beautiful tranquility.
Far from the urban traffic, this neoclassical palace is perched on the summit of a quiet hill, in a magical garden where flowers, fountains, ancient trees and small birds commune together. Yes, the Lapa Palace is the sort of place that makes us lose control a bit….
Steps from the National Museum of Ancient Art, this charming residence, the old pied à terre of the novelist Eça de Queirós, has been converted into a boutique hotel that’s full of old-world romance. The house seduces you with its out-of-time feeling, ideal for when you want to read (or write) in silence.
Nestled in the pedestrian streets of Old Lisbon, the Palácio Ramalhete radiates charm and tranquil strength from its sun-drenched townhouses. You’ll be sun-drenched too, thanks to the pool deck and the solarium, both of which don’t clear out until long after sunset.