Internacional Design Hotel
Rua da Betesga 13, Lisbon, Lisbon 1100-900, Portugal
This uber-trendy boutique hotel facing Rossio square might not appeal to traditionalists, but its bold, colorful contemporary design, top-notch amenities, and highly-regarded restaurant make it a popular choice among image-conscious visitors to Lisbon. The four-star hotel faces onto on of Lisbon's busiest squares, the Don Pedro IV Plaza (better known as Rossio), and the building itself is striking, but the really cute touches are saved for the interior. With themed floors--each with its own distinct aroma, outlandish artworks, a trendy bar, and restaurant and kitsch touches galore (Lego is something of a recurring motif in the hotel), the hotel prides itself on being different from the norm. The breakfasts, included in the rate, are a huge buffet spread of hot and cold treats. The location is ideal for sightseeing, shopping, and nightlife, and the friendly staff are thoroughly clued-up on the best places to eat, drink, and make merry, as well as the best-value trips and tours.
The hotel is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group--members may be entitled to occasional upgrades and other treats
The 55 rooms are divided into four themes--Urban, Zen, Pop, and Tribal--with details worked out right down to the scent of the rooms and corridors. Most rooms feature the hotel's signature bold decor and bright colors, but the Zen rooms tone down the sensory explosion to offer a more calming experience. Modernity is key, and all rooms have LCD TV screens with international cable channels, a safe, air-conditioning, telephone, mini-bar, and a pillow menu on request. Medium and Large category rooms have Nespresso machines, and the three large suites have Playstations.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms are small--very small by North American standards--but well equipped and have lovely views.
Bathrooms are small but slick in design, with powerful showers, tubs, and L'Occitane amenities.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Some bathrooms are separated from the bedroom by opaque glass--modest guests may want to request a room with fully separate bathroom.
The lobby is small but chock-full with the hotel's trademark colorful details--provocative artworks, lots of bright colors, and cutesy knick-knacks strewn around. The reception area is compact but service is friendly, and there's a concierge service.
The hotel's restaurant--the provocatively-named Bastardo--boldly claims to 'merge the best with the perfect', and the hip surroundings have made it a popular lunch and dinner spot among trendy Lisboetas and out-of-towners alike. The cuisine is traditional Portuguese with a modern twist, and dishes are artfully presented.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Some of the clever-clever presentation may irk those who prefer their dishes to be served in traditional fashion.
The Bastardo Bar is another popular hangout for the young and trendy, offering snacks and a vast range of wines and cocktails, which can be enjoyed alongside great views over Rossio square.
Shuttle buses from the airport stop at Rossio square, and the hotel is handy for the Rossio metro, which is mere steps away. The grand Rossio train station, with its quick links to Sintra, is virtually next door. One of the best ways to explore Lisbon is to see the compact city center on foot, and the scenic city's many attractions span out from this central square. It's a short stroll to the waterfront at Praça do Comércio or the shops of Avenida da Liberdade, and scaling the hills on foot or by tram takes guests to popular spots such as the Saint George Castle, Alfama, and the Bairro Alto.
There are restaurants galore in this part of Lisbon, but research is wise to avoid the tourist traps. Some top options nearby include the chic Largo (8-minute walk) where excellent fish and seafood (try the wonderful cured codfish) is served amid decor that includes a tank teeming with jellyfish (they're not on the menu). More down to earth eats can be found at O Churrasco (5-minute walk) a simple spot famed among locals for its excellent roast chicken and bitoques--a traditional dish comprising a slab of beef, topped with a fried egg and served with French fries.
Nightlife options abound here--there are some trendy spots very close by, such as Topo Chiado (2-minute walk), where drinks are served beneath the stars with a lovely view of historic Lisbon, or take a 15-minute stroll to happening Rua Nova do Carvalho ("Pink Street"), which is lined with late-opening bars, as well as the unique Pensão Amor (14-minute walk), where bars and boutiques are set up inside a building whose risque decor recalls its colorful past life as a brothel.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This modern, funky hotel has a superb location, savvy staff, and a very highly regarded restaurant. The cute design touches might be a little love-it-or-loathe-it, but the setting on Rossio Square will appeal to everybody. Amenities are excellent and the hotel is perfect for exploring Lisbon by day or night. The airport shuttle bus that stops very close to the hotel will save on cab fares, too.
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