Fodor's Expert Review The Keep (Formerly Ninho das Águias)
Rua Costa do Castelo 74, Lisbon, 1100-179, Portugal See on Map
Formerly known as Ninho das Águias ('Eagles' Nest', in Portuguese), this 200-year-old property offers a rare opportunity for a budget stay right below Lisbon's castle walls. Don't expect luxury--think shared bathrooms and very basic rooms--but the views from the terrace are almost as staggering as those from the grounds of the castle itself. The chalet-style building is a talking point and something of a love-it-or-loathe-it affair, with its grey exterior and pointed turret. This is by no means an upmarket affair, but the price is incredibly affordable given the priceless location, and the building retains a huge amount of character despite some attempts to jazz up the interior with English slogans painted on the walls.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Rooms are accessed via a steep, winding staircase. There's no lift, and it's a drag-your-own-luggage setup, so remember this when packing because you're going to be lugging your stuff up some large stairs.
Rooms are about as basic as it gets-walls are white, the beds are old-fashioned affairs made from carved iron or wood, and most rooms have a shared bathroom. The suite has a small living space and a desk, most other rooms simply have a wardrobe and bedside table.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Mold is an issue in some rooms. So. Yikes.
Bathrooms are simple, with blue and white tiles, tubs and overhead showers. Most are shared, although some slightly more expensive rooms (and the suites) have personal bathrooms en-suite.
Bring your own toiletries, and be sure to mention when booking if a private bathroom is non-negotiable.
The lobby is a small space that reflects its considerable history with classic blue-and-white tiling, and that long, spiral staircase winding up to the rooms. Wi-Fi is available in the lobby, and some colorful cushions and "Keep Calm and (Something)" slogans painted on the walls are a clear attempt to appeal to a youngish clientele. Staff are friendly and helpful, but you'll need to haul your bags to your room yourself.
There's no restaurant, but the buffet breakfast is decent considering the very low price, and is served on the terrace with those sweeping panoramic views.
The guest house is located on a steep hill, and with no metro station in the immediate vicinity, a cab or Uber is the best way to get here from the airport or from downtown--especially if loaded down with luggage. Guests here should expect to do some walking, but buses also run close by, as does the famous 28 Tram, which makes the scenic journey from downtown through the steep streets of Alfama and around, taking in many tourist attractions as it goes. Bring your camera, but watch your wallet--pickpockets are a problem on this busy route.
There's no hotel restaurant, but plenty of places to eat nearby. The Castle is surrounded by expensive places targeting tourists, but it's a short walk to colorful Martim Moniz and Mouraria, multi-ethnic areas with some interesting eating options, including excellent Chinese food served from a family's apartment at Illegal Chinese Restaurant (5-minute walk). Don't be put off by the name, this is a legit spot serving some of the best Chinese food in town, at wallet-pleasing prices. For something more traditional, Ze da Mouraria (5-minute walk) is a simple, but deservedly popular, spot that serves local dishes (excellent fish and seafood) in large portions and in an informal atmosphere.
This is very much Fado territory, and there are a number of spots nearby to hear this powerfully-emotional vocal style performed. Try Maria de Mouraria (6-minute walk) for guaranteed good quality singing. If Fado isn't your thing, try sampling some excellent Portuguese wines at Wine Bar do Castelo (10-15 minute walk) or sip cocktails with the cool kids at Topo (6-minute walk), a rooftop bar with DJs and terrific panoramic views.
WHY WE LIKE IT
This characterful guest house has superb views from its terrace, and the location is excellent for sightseeing. The budget-friendly price is a huge part of the appeal--it's hard to find affordable lodgings in this touristic part of town--but the friendly service, the kooky building, and the wonderful terrace add to the experience.
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