Fodor's Expert Review AlmaLusa Baixa Chiado
Praça do Município 21, Lisbon, Lisbon 1100-365, Portugal See on Map
This small-but-stylish boutique hotel was a 2016 addition to Lisbon's lodgings scene, and occupies a listed historical building on one of the city's most central squares. At the heart of the Pombaline downtown, the building maintains many original features such as intricate tile work and even a serving hatch from its past life as a grocery store. The 18th Century building has been painstakingly transformed into one of the city's most striking boutique lodgings, and each of the 28 rooms is unique in size, style, and layout. Service is excellent, with savvy staff keen to share their knowledge of the city, and the hotel restaurant, with a terrace on the Praça do Município, serves delicious Portuguese dishes at surprisingly reasonable prices. The location, just a stone's throw from the waterfront, major nightlife districts and the sightseeing opportunities of Chiado and the Baixa, is one of the best in the city. Eschewing showy flamboyance in favor of more restrained luxury, the hotel combines historic charm with contemporary comforts, at rates that won't blow the travel budget sky high.
YOU SHOULD KNOW The listed building status and small scale of the hotel means on-site facilities are limited. Don't expect to find a gym, spa, or pool here.
Each of the 28 rooms at AlmaLusa is unique, and there's considerable variance in size and shape. The 12 suites, which have living areas mini-kitchens, are generously proportioned. With carefully-chosen furnishings and decor, many o the rooms retain historic features, but all have modern facilities such as high-speed Wi-F, Delta coffee machines, and REVO super signal radios. The beds are wonderfully soft, a pillow menu is available on request, and the decor aims to convey a sense of Lisbon's grand past. The hotel aims to convey its passion for Portugal through its choice of amenities--everything from the in-room bottled water to the toilet paper and the toiletries come from a Portuguese brand. Rooms are well soundproofed, so guests can be sure of a good night's sleep despite the very central location.
Rooms at the front look onto the square, but those at the back lack any real views.
With toilet paper by the famous Portuguese brand Renova and toiletries by Castelbel, the bathrooms have powerful overhead showers, black and white tiling and-like the rooms-vary in layout and size.
With subtle signage, it would be easy to miss the low-key entrance to this hotel if you didn't already know it was there. Stepping from the historic square into the cool lobby, guests receive a warm welcome at the small reception desk and can take a moment to admire the careful renovation work, with original flagstones, arched roofs, and wooden roof beams. Artsy curios and vintage furnishings add to the feel of stepping into an upmarket museum or gallery.
Guests can buy beautifully-packaged Portuguese toiletries at the reception desk, which make good last-minute gifts for folks back home (or, indeed, for yourself).
Adjoining the lobby, the Delfina restaurant has a cool interior and a sunny terrace on the flagstones of this picturesque square. The hotel's famously good breakfasts are served here, and it's also a standalone lunch and dinner restaurant, with a separate entrance for non-guests. Serving sophisticated small plates, traditional Portuguese mains and delicious desserts (try the wonderfully-rich flour-free chocolate cake), it's an excellent dining option in its own right.
Main meals are served at lunch and dinner, but Delfina is also open for small plates of 'petiscos' throughout the day and into the evening.
Delfina restaurant has a small but very well-stocked bar, which serves cocktails and Portuguese wines by the glass or bottle. The interior is a good place for a warming drink during the winter, while a tipple on the terrace is the perfect way to begin or end a night out in Lisbon during the long hot summer.
Just a few minutes' walk from the ferry, rail, bus and metro hub at Cais do Sodre, AlmaLusa has excellent public transport links. Tourist trams, regular street cars, and tuk tuks depart from nearby Praça do Comércio, but the hotel is also perfectly placed for exploring Lisbon on foot. Tourist attractions abound in every direction, and the extremely clued-up staff will happily make suggestions for interesting sights and excursions nearby. A couple of minutes' walk takes you to the waterfront, the bars and shopping of Chiado are close at hand, and it's a manageable 20-minute walk to Alfama or the Bairro Alto.
A near obligatory stop for foodies in Lisbon, Mercado da Ribeira (10-minute walk) is a short stroll from the hotel, and has become one of Lisbon's top visitor attractions. A former market hall (there's still a working market on one side of the building) has been transformed into a vast communal dining space filled with kiosks selling Portuguese goodies to suit every taste, from seafood to ice cream. For more formal meals, Bistro 1000 Maneiras (15-minute walk) is an uber-hip spot where high profile Sarajevo-born chef Ljubomir Stanisic has created a highly-rated menu that takes in imaginative Portuguese and European dishes and attracts a fashion-conscious crowd late into the night.
Guests at AlmaLusa should pack their partying shoes and get ready for some late nights. The hotel is within walking distance of Lisbon's busiest nightlife districts, and the local party set don't really get into their stride until well past midnight. Start an evening out with waterfront drinks at Quiosque da Ribeira das Naus (5-minute walk), where customers can relax in sunloungers as they sip cocktails, wine or beer. After the sun sets, head to Rua Novo do Carvalho (5-minute walk). Known as 'Pink Street' (one glance at the rose-hued asphalt will tell you why), this bar-lined street is the current hotspot for late-night Lisboetas, and warm nights draw drinkers outdoors, creating a street party vibe.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This detail-driven boutique hotel has a fantastic location, chic decor, bags of historic charm, and an excellent on-site restaurant. Staff go out of their way to make guests feel at home, and the standard of comfort and decor is well above the norm. At the heart of Lisbon's nightlife, sightseeing and dining action, the hotel is an excellent bet for making the most of a quick trip to the city.
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