Bairro Alto Hotel
Hotel in Lisbon
5-Star Boutique Hotel
Standing proud on Praça Luís de Camões, Bairro Alto Hotel resides in a beautifully restored 18th-century town mansion and gazes out across one of Lisbon's loveliest squares.
Interior designer José Pedro Vieira and architect Diogo Rosa Lã have left their indelible imprint on the hotel, with nods both the city's colonial past and the contemporary décor of the here and now.
Stepping into the lobby, my eye is immediately drawn to exquisite details – a mosaic-style pattern in the marble floor, a pair of cast iron sculptures by Rui Chafes. These details distinguish the hotel and define it as being unmistakably Portuguese. The design seizes its inspiration from the city, from the glint of azulejos (decorative tiles) to hand-painted frescoes of birds and colours that seem to sum up Lisbon - the warmth of terracotta, the pastel blue of the sky, the yellow of trams.
History, heritage and avant-garde art and design sit comfortably side by side at Bairro Alto Hotel, and there is not a single jarring note in the rooms and suites, which have been individually decorated with sumptuous materials. Grand old-world features such as wainscoting, high ceilings and chequerboard bathroom floor tiles blend seamlessly with the creature comforts one would expect at a hotel of this calibre today, such as flat-screen TVs and DVD players.
My room grants an incredible view across Praça Luís de Camões, with all the action of the city gearing up for Friday night unfurling outside but soundproofing that ensures a decent night's sleep.
Upping the romance a notch are the Mansard Rooms on the fifth floor, with sloping ceilings, Ralph Lauren wall coverings and watercolours and photographs by local artists.
As low-key and understated as the décor is the service, discreet yet attentive. This is luxury without the airs and graces, and whatever you want – a personal shopper, city sightseeing tips, a limousine transfer, a babysitter, a massage – you need only whisper the word to the concierge.
Recently revamped in slick retro style, the street-level Flores do Bairro restaurant pairs bistro-style, cheek-by-jowl seating with a casual ambience and a decidedly modern menu of tapas and Portuguese mains. Bursting with freshness, dishes like ceviche with coconut and sweet potato, veal cheek confit with watercress and hazelnut and octopus with coriander and peppers pair nicely with carefully selected Portuguese wines. The tapas can either be the main act or the prelude to specialities such as slow-roasted suckling pig with pepper and orange or piri-piri cod.
Flores do Bairro is also the setting for breakfast, which is a generous spread of local cheeses and preserves, fresh pastries, breads and fruit and eggs to order.
Downstairs, the strikingly backlit Café-Bar BA hosts a roster of DJ nights and gigs. It is the top-floor terrace, however, that holds the guests in its thrall, especially as the sun sets and the city starts to light up. The terrace commands an arresting view of the skyline, reaching across the rooftops to the Ponte 25 de Abril bridge loping across the River Tagus. Sightseeing simply doesn't get more relaxed than spotting Lisbon's landmarks over an expertly mixed G&T from this vantage point.
Kerry Christiani is an award-winning freelance travel writer, author and MA-qualified translator
Photographs courtesy of Bairro Alto Hotel
|Reviewer's Rating||★ ★ ★ ★ ★|
|Related Activity||Relaxation, Culture / Sightseeing, Shopping, Great local restaurants|
|Services||Restaurant, Room Service, Fitness Center, Health Spa, Family Friendly|
|Dress Code||Smart Casual|
|Number of Rooms||55 rooms & suites|
4x Single rooms (18 m²); 7x Mansard rooms (20 m²); 32x Superior rooms (23 m²); 4x Deluxe rooms (27 m²); 4x Prestige rooms (33 m²) and 4x Suites from 55 to 59 m².
Double rooms & suites cost from €205 to €460. Flores do Bairro restaurant: Tapas: €3 to €7.50; Mains: €13.50 to €29.50; Desserts: €4 to €6. Café Bar BA light meals & snacks: €6 to €14.50.
Last updated on 02-10-2015