Altis Belém Hotel & Spa
Doca do Bom Sucesso, Lisbon, Lisbon 1400-036, Portugal
A favorite with style-conscious visitors to Lisbon, the Altis Belem Hotel and Spa is a design hotel with a prime riverside location. Slick design provides plenty of Instagram appeal, while a Michelin-starred restaurant, hip bar, and arguably Lisbon's best spa add to the glitzy experience. The hotel has picked up a string of awards--including Portugal's Best Design Hotel at the 2015 and 2016 World Travel Awards--and the location in the absurdly picturesque Belem district is another point in its favor. All rooms have views, and while it's a little way from the center of Lisbon, transport links are excellent, and it's also en-route to the beaches of Estoril and Cascais. The hotel's design theme is Portugal's Golden Age of Discovery, and each wing of the hotel represents a trading post from the country's seafaring history. Far from heavy-handed, the theme is stylishly done, and the hotel's 5-star status is reflected in its excellent service and superior amenities. A rooftop pool is an inviting place to admire the view on a warm summer's day. This neighborhood is excellent for a cultural visit to Lisbon--some of the city's most impressive buildings and cultural centers are close at hand.
Belem has added another major string to its bow, with the opening of the striking Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology (MAAT).
Perhaps surprisingly for a rather reserved and traditional country, Portugal has widely embraced street art. It is quite fitting, then, that each of the themed rooms features a mural symbolizing the country it represents--think colorful birds for Brazil, for example. Each of the hotel's 45 rooms and suites has a view of the water--whether out to the marina or across the River Tagus, superior rooms and suites have balconies--some of the suites even up the fabulous factor with a Jacuzzi on the balcony. All rooms and suites have luxurious Egyptian cotton bed linen, Nespresso machines, andflat-screenn TVs come as standard.
Some of the rooms and suites have separate bathrooms, while others have in-room baths, or glass-walled bathrooms with curtain that can be closed to spare guests' blushes. Most bathrooms have tubs, some with separate showers. In some of the bathrooms, it's possible to admire river views while soaking in the tub.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Glass-walled bathrooms are a popular trend among luxury hotels in Lisbon--if the idea doesn't appeal (there is a curtain), make sure you request a room with separate bathroom.
The bold design of the hotel is evident the moment guests step into the lobby--it's all gleaming white walls, clean lines, polished black floor, and open stairways. The floor-to-ceiling walls on one side of reception offer terrific views of boats bobbing in the harbor.
There's a heated indoor pool at the ritzy spa, and a small outdoor pool on the rooftop, which has spectacular views
The indoor pool attracts proper swimmers, while the rooftop pool is better for cooling off and admiring the view
The hotel's spa is a major selling point. Guests and non-guests alike pay a pretty penny to appreciate the facilities and treatments from the Swiss brand Karin Herzog, including sensorial showers, Turkish Baths, and a vast range of beauty treatments, massages, and body therapies. Several treatments can be enjoyed on the sun deck.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Under-16s can use the pool and facilities during the 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Kids' Hour, but outside that time, it's adults only.
There's a small, well-equipped gym, and guests can arrange personal trainer sessions as well as special sessions such as Pilates and Watsu (water Shiatsu).
For a small hotel, Altis Belem has an outstanding culinary offer. At the Michelin-starred Feitoria Restaurant & Wine Bar, head chef João Rodrigues whips up adventurous Portuguese-Asian fusion food, enhanced by glorious river views, the Cafeteria Mensagem has a regularly-changing menu of lighter meals using seasonal produce, and the hotel bar serves light bites in a trendy space popular with Lisbon's young and beautiful.
All the dining options here are open to non-guests, and there's hot competition for the tables with the best views--it's worth booking.
The hotel bar, 38º41, is popular with a well-heeled young crowd, who come here for sunset cocktails, jazz nights, and DJ sets.
The location (four miles along the Tagus from central Lisbon) might not appeal to everybody, but the area is very well served by public transport. Buses and modern trams run along the scenic streets, while it's a short walk (15-20 minutes) from the hotel to the train station, which runs to Alcantara, Santos and Cais Sodre in one direction, out to the Estoril coast in the other (you can be at the beach in Estoril within 25 minutes). Cabs are easy to come by, and an Uber trip to the city center will set you back just a few euros.
No visitor should miss Pasteis de Belem (15-minute walk)--the blue-and-white-tiled pastry shop that has been selling Pasteis de Nata (Portugal's famous custard tarts) for centuries. You can eat in or take bags away to guzzle later (or both...). For something more high-end, Darwin's Cafe (11-minute walk) is a riverside spot in the somewhat unlikely confines of a science foundation building (hence the name). The pan-European food is good and fairly-priced--look for a table on the patio with views to Belem Tower.
This is one of Lisbon's quieter areas for nightlife, but there are plenty of options for a spot of riverside drinking. Try Belem Bar Cafe (4-minute walk) for trendy late-night drinks and dancing, or just grab a glass to go from the inspired Wine With a View (6-minute walk)--a wine truck selling a vast range of Portuguese wines by the (plastic) wine glass or bottle--you'll find it by Belem Tower Gardens.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This top-end hotel has dazzling design and a gastronomic offer that belies its small size. The spa is top notch, the riverside location stunning, and the neighborhood is one of the prettiest in Lisbon. The surrounding area is a pleasure to explore on foot (and not as hilly as much of Lisbon), and some of most dramatic architecture in the city can be found here (the monastery is literally unmissable--it's huge). A fashionable crowd gathers at the hotel bar and restaurants, and it's a quick hop on bus, train, or cab to the buzzing nightlife of Santos, Alcantara, and Cais Sodre. This is a good location for beach lovers too--trains stop here bound for the lovely strands of the Estoril coast.
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