Fodor's Expert Review Santiago de Alfama
Rua de Santiago 10-14, Alfama, Lisbon, Lisbon 1100-494, Portugal See on Map
This 5-star boutique hotel at the heart of Lisbon's Alfama neighborhood has captured many a visitor's heart since it opened its doors in 2015. The magic happens in a reformed 15th Century palace, long-abandoned but now brought beautifully back to life as one of Lisbon's most stylish lodgings.
With just 19 rooms and suites and a team of friendly, helpful and super-knowledgeable staff, the hotel offers stylish stays with a focus on catering to guests' every whim, and the on-site restaurant, bar, and gift shop are worthy stops in their own right. Guests can glimpse Roman remains and admire ancient tile work, but the high-tech facilities and rich design detail are very much 21st Century.
Rooms and shared spaces are bright and filled with light, and the level of detail is impressive across the board. With a location in one of Lisbon's most famous historic quarters, Alfama, it's well-placed for sightseeing (the castle and cathedral are close at hand).
YOU SHOULD KNOW This is one of the hilliest parts of Lisbon, and while you don't need to be super-fit to stay here, access can be a challenge for anybody with mobility issues.
The 13 rooms and six suites at Santiago de Alfama are all different in design and layout, allowing for the particular challenges of working with an ancient listed building, and great care has been taken to preserve original 15th Century walls and other details. All are generously-sized and beautifully decorated, with wonderful high ceilings. Of the six suites, the fourth floor Santiago Suite has the most compelling views, looking out over the characteristic red rooftops to the River Tagus. Other rooms and suites look out onto the hotel's lovely courtyard and manicured gardens, or over to landmark buildings.
Rooms are Classic, Superior, or Deluxe and all are bright with blues and golds, and full of natural light, with Superior Garden Rooms opening right onto the courtyard. Family accommodations can be arranged via interconnecting rooms. There is also a Farm House in Alentejo for longer stays.
Bathrooms are luxurious, featuring sunken or free-standing baths with rainfall showers, and posh Claus Porto amenities. Some bathrooms even have views for guests to savor as they soak.
The welcoming, plant-filled lobby is a winning mix of the old (original flagstones and arched stone doorways) and the modern (royal blue sofas, bright artworks by contemporary Portuguese artist Sandra Baia). Staff at the small reception area are a wealth of information about Lisbon and its many charms, and guests can flick through fashion and travel magazines as they lounge in the lobby.
It's a rare treat to find a spa at a boutique hotel in Lisbon's old town, but Santiago de Alfama does indeed offer a basement spa and beauty salon, offering massages, manicures, and everything in between.
The hotel's dining options are open to non-guests, and are noteworthy in and of themselves. Audrey's Cafe is a casual-chic spot for rich breakfast pastries, leisurely lunches or evening wines and petiscos (small, shareable plates); while A Fabrica de Santiago has become a foodie favorite thanks to its delicious renderings of classic Portuguese dishes, made using super-fresh ingredients sourced from the morning produce market at Lisbon's famous Mercado da Ribeira.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Breakfast is tempting, but not included in most room rates
Styled like a particularly sophisticated English country pub, Manny's Bar is a favorite hangout for fashionable young Lisboetas as well as hill-weary sightseers looking to refresh themselves while traipsing the steep streets of Alfama. The young, friendly staff mix some of the best gin and tonics in town.
If hills don't pose a problem, there's much fun to be had exploring the maze of cobbled medieval streets in Lisbon's oldest neighborhood. The hotel is on a side street just off the main drag, which gets busy with tourists year round. The famous 28 tram stops just 50 meters away, and is one of the best ways to see the city without wearing out your limbs (watch your valuables, though). The nearest metro is around 15-minutes' walk from the hotel, so it's best to arrive by cab from the airport (around 20 minutes' drive). The attractions of the Pombaline Downtown, the nightlife of Bairro Alto and the lively street scene of Martim Moniz are within walking distance, too.
Guests can enjoy food with a staggering panoramic view at Restaurante Casa do Leão (5-minute walk), a tourist-pleasing spot found right inside the grounds of Lisbon's Saint George castle. For more local flavor, head downhill to Restaurante Zé da Mouraria (10-15-minute walk) for cheerful service and huge portions of flavorful fish and meat.
There's no shortage of places to hear fado music in Alfama, but you'll need to dodge some tourist traps to find the best spots. Fans of the can check out Parreirinho do Fado (10-minute walk), where dinner and drinks are served in an intimate setting that is perfect for appreciating the soul-stirring vocals. For early evening drinks just a few steps from the hotel, Wine Bar do Castelo (3-minute walk) has a terrific selection of Portuguese wines, and some delicious small plates to pair them with.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Elegant, stylish and with service that is excellent across the board, this 2015 opening has been a very welcome addition to Lisbon's boutique hotel scene. The building is beautiful and has been artfully restored, blending contemporary and classical to great effect. The location is ideal for Alfama sightseeing, and the spacious rooms have gorgeous details.
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