Every second person you chat to, endless influencers on Instagram, they’re all doing it: snapping the blue and white tiles, gorging on pasteis de nata and, above all, bragging about their trips to Portugal. The Iberian country has never been more en vogue and offers historical charm and top culinary culture (as well as an alluring Golden Visa programme for South Africans — where a €350K investment in property earns a residency permit for an entire family). Along with its renewed popularity and an influx of visitors comes a fresh crop of cool hotels. We recommend:
1. THE CLASSIC: Torel Palace
Traditional charm and local history permeate the rooms of Torel Palace. Comprised of two romantic freestanding historic mansions (circa 1902 and 1904 respectively), the individually decorated suites are named after past Portuguese kings and queens. The elegant aesthetic is a nod to the establishment’s rich cultural heritage, but not at the cost of comfort and convenience, which are plentiful. The rooms are also unusually spacious and have a sense of bygone grandeur. And the views, well, they’re staggering — the pool has an especially beautiful vantage point of the city below.
2. THE HOME BASE: The Lumiares
A smart concept meets chic execution at The Lumiares. Apartment-style suites (complete with compact but functional kitchens and sitting rooms) are ideal for longer stays and allow you a little more room to breathe. Featuring pieces from predominantly local artisans and designers, the accommodation has a lovely craft feel, but also looks polished. The rooftop bar adjoining the restaurant has a stunning outlook over the roofs of Chiado — a popular shopping and socialising suburb which is also very walkable — and there’s a spa on the ground floor too.
3. THE SIMPLE SOLUTION: Memmo Alfama
Its location in one of Lisbon’s oldest suburbs — Alfama — and incredible views over the iconic red rooftops onto the river give Memmo Alfama, a member of Design Hotels, a hard-to-beat position. It has simple, contemporary interiors that honour the area, a cool communal dining room (help-yourself breakfasts that make you feel casually at home), and an incredible sundowner deck. This is a compact but cool choice, close to a host of sites, and the complementary walking tours organised by the hotel are a lovely touch too.
4. THE COOL KID: The Vintage
Located in the picturesque and creatively dynamic area of Prìncipe Real, The Vintage Hotel & Spa is a perfect blend of contemporary comfort and retro appeal. Charming mid-century pieces make the public areas homey, while the bedroom suites are all bold colour palettes, great artwork, and stylish furniture. It’s the personal touches that really give the place heart — they include welcome DIY-gin-and-tonics on arrival, and uniquely sourced drinks trolleys in every room. Plus, a bar on the rooftop, restaurant on the ground floor, and spa down below mean you have everything you need right there.
5. THE NEW IDEA: Esqina
Fuss-free and sans frills, the idea behind Esqina Cosmopolitan Lodge is stylish urban accommodation, but overall it’s about culture. Started by three friends who wanted to create a community around the esqina space (which means corner), the hotel has a strong focus on music (album launches happen regularly here and DJs visit), art (artists-in-residence exhibit downstairs in the basement space), and food (chefs are on rotation at the gastro bar in order to foster young talent and celebrate fresh ideas). The rooms are simply fitted out — think open storage and clean lines — but hi-tech. Each comes with a charged smartphone you can take out with you for easy navigation.
• From the February edition of Wanted 2020.