The first of three intimate 'Dear Lisbon' guest houses, DL Charming House (formerly known as Dear Lisbon Guesthouse) offers chic-but-affordable stays in a neighborhood that, while handy for sightseeing, remains off the beaten tourist trail. Guests tackling the hills of the Santa Catarina neighborhood are well rewarded for their efforts, Moroccan-style courtyard and pool.
Visitors looking for a more exclusive stay in the Portuguese capital might want to check out another Dear Lisbon property, DL Palace, an upscale residence insuper-chic Chiado.
The 20 rooms and suites at Dear Lisbon Charming House each have their own style, reflecting different aspects of Lisbon. While each is unique in layout and decor, all are bright, light spaces with bold, contemporary decor.The most affordable are the Double Rooms with Patio View, which celebrate the city's Moorish side, with rich colors, overlooking the 'Arabian Nights'-style courtyard and pool. City rooms overlook the colorful Santa Catarina neighborhood, while double rooms on the top floor have a cozy 'attic' feel, and private terraces that are perfect for leisurely breakfasts. Junior Suites have living rooms that can be converted into a second bedroom - making them a good option for families. All rooms have WiFi, A/C and LED TV with international cable channels.
YOU SHOULD KNOW As is standard in Lisbon's packed historic center, rooms are on the small side.
Rooms have en-suite bathrooms, all of which are crisp white spaces with pops of color in the floor tiles and wall decorations. Expect powerful free-standing showers, plenty of high-quality toiletries, well-lit mirrors and hairdryers.
Making guests feel at home is very much part of the Dear Lisbon philosophy, and the hotel's lounge is a welcoming space that feels like the living room of a particularly stylish friend. A mini-library has plenty of books in English, and there's even a stack of vintage vinyl and a record player to spin the discs on. The fireplace keeps things cozy on chilly winter nights, and staff are on hand to mix a cocktail or brew up a pot of tea.
It's rare to find a boutique hotel with a pool in Lisbon's old town--especially at the more affordable end of the price scale--which makes the Moorish-flavored patio and pool here feel even more of a treat. It's not big enough for laps, but the pool is the perfect place to cool off and relax aching muscles after a day's climbing the hills of Lisbon, and the comfy sun loungers lend themselves well to lazy afternoons reading a book, sipping a drink and working on that Portuguese tan.
Although there's no restaurant, breakfast is a strong suit here--the guest house serves a traditional Portuguese pequeno-almoço with lots of fresh-baked breads, home-made preserves, fresh juice, cakes and seasonal fruits. Bacon and eggs are available for those guests who like a hot breakfast, and of course there's plenty of strong Portuguese coffee to put a spring in your step as you head out for a day's exploring.
There's no bar, but staff will happily mix up a drink from the contents of the well-stocked drinks cabinet in the lounge.
Budget-conscious guests can grab themselves a bottle of wine from one of the many neighborhood stores and enjoy it on the patio.
Lisbon's traditional neighborhoods cling the the steep streets of the city's hills, and Santa Catarina is no exception. Riding the 28 tram is a fun way to see the sights and save energy, but strolling the streets and discovering the nearby galleries, antiques stores and neighborhood tascas (traditional bar-restaurants). The lively Bairro Alto nightlife district is within walking (or staggering) distance, and it's a 15-minute cab ride from the airport.
There are any number of low-key local spots nearby, but guests looking for a change from the meat-and-fish-heavy Portuguese cuisine can find all-you-can-eat vegetarian and vegan food at nearby Restaurante Terra (10-15-minute walk), and there's good set lunches and a friendly local vibe at Toma Lá Dá Cá (5-10 minute walk)
Head to the Santa Catarina viewpoint (5-minute walk) at dusk to join the locals in sipping sundowner drinks as the setting sun turns the River pink and gold - there's a kiosk bar here, but nobody will look askance if you bring a bottle and plastic cups, and sip away while lounging on the grass. For something more upmarket, CINCO Lounge (10-minute walk) is a smart spot for cocktails, shaken and stirred with great aplomb by some of the best mixologists in town.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Dear Lisbon Charming House is aptly-named--it has charm in abundance, and the owners' love of the beautiful city of Lisbon is shared with the guests via the traditional Portuguese breakfasts and decor, and the savvy staff's intimate knowledge of the best places to eat, drink and visit. The location offers a glimpse a still-traditional Lisbon, and the small patio and pool feel like a real oasis from the heat of the city's steep streets.