Built in 1892, Lisbon's first luxury hotel combines regal elegance with modern comfort. French architect Lucian Donnat breathed new life into the hotel in the 1990s, when he restored its original romantic Belle Époque style. Classically furnished rooms are completely soundproof despite a super-central location, and bathrooms are lined in the finest Portuguese marble. Sumptuously furnished suites, some with hydromassage tubs, are decked out in grand style. With twice-weekly afternoon teas and regular classical music recitals, the hotel will appeal to those looking for a taste of Lisbon's grand history, but modern amenities such as super-speedy Wi-Fi bring things up to speed. The location next to the similarly opulent Rossio railway station (the architect José Luís Monteiro designed both buildings) is right at the heart of the historic downtown.
YOU SHOULD KNOW This hotel is more about historic appeal than contemporary style--those looking for minimalist chic won't find it here.
The hotel's 82 rooms including a Presidential Suite, 3 Palace Suites, and 16 Junior Suites. All rooms have views--some look out over the city and the castle, while others look onto the pretty courtyard. Rooms on the upper floors are more expensive but have the most impressive views. Effective soundproofing means street noise is minimal despite the very central location, and there are some lovely touches such as fresh fruit and other sweet treats left at room turn down. All rooms and suites feature eye-catching pieces of period furniture, and beds are extremely comfortable.
The rooms are fully soundproofed, offer free connection to the Internet over Wi-fi and cable and feature bathrooms decorated in marble.
The Junior Suites consist of a bedroom and living room and can accommodate three people, which makes them the perfect solution for families with children. Optionally, rooms with connecting doors are available.
All rooms are no-smoking rooms.
The hotel website offers some good room promotions and occasional free room upgrades.
The marble bathrooms have an opulent feel, and are immaculately maintained. Most rooms have tubs with showers, while some suites have separate stand up showers.
Forget minimalist chic, the lobby at Avenida Palace is a masterclass in ornate interiors. Think high ceilings, gilded mirrors, antique furniture, stained glass, and deep red walls.
The small fifth-floor fitness center isn't flashy, but is well maintained and has the usual treadmills, step machines, and exercise bikes.
There's no restaurant at the hotel, but the buffet breakfast--served in a dining room with magnificent chandeliers--is as lavish as one would expect in these grand surrounds. A range of snacks, drinks, and light meals can be ordered at the bar or through room service
From October-May, the hotel holds Palace Tea events at 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, attracting tourists and locals keen to soak up the opulent surrounds over scones, pastries, and infusions from the extensive tea menu.
The bar and lounge is a cozy space that is well suited to hunkering down over a drink on a cool evening. The wooden bar, leather sofas, and deep armchairs are somewhat reminiscent of a traditional British pub, but the plates of cured meats, cheeses, and the like are thoroughly Portuguese.
The hotel is right at the heart of downtown Lisbon, with major sites and transport links close at hand. Restauradores metro is a couple of minutes' walk from the hotel, and Rossio railway station--the starting point for trips to Sintra--is almost next door. Lisbon is a compact city, and the hotel is a good base for exploring it on foot--a few minutes' walk in any direction leads to a historic building or square. Alfama--the historic district with its hilltop castle--is a 25-minute walk uphill, but trams and buses are on hand for those who don't fancy the climb.
There's no restaurant at Avenida Palace, but with so many dining options close at hand, that's hardly a major inconvenience. Sacramento (8-minute walk) is a fine dining restaurant in a fine old building, serving traditional Portuguese dishes in an intimate, low-lit space, while Taberna da Baixa (10-minute walk) is at the opposite end of the scale--it's a relaxed space for sharing plates of petiscos and carafes of house wine or sangria.
This part of town is famous for its traditional bars selling ginja--a traditional sour cherry liqueur that can be enjoyed from a chocolate cup. A good place to try it is the tiny A Ginjinha (3-minute walk)--strictly standing room only. Craft beer enthusiasts may want to pay a visit to Delirium Cafe (8-minute walk), which is named for head-spinningly strong Belgium brew Delirium Tremens, and has a lengthy list of imported and national beers.
WHY WE LIKE IT
As Lisbon's oldest luxury hotel, the Avenida Palace has bags of historic charm, and its beauty hasn't faded over the ages. A stay here feels like stepping into Lisbon's Belle Epoque past--the afternoon teas and piano recitals adding to the nostalgic appeal--and the resplendent facade is a mere hint of the opulent interior. Given its location in prime sightseeing territory, the hotel's rates are very fair for its category, and service is extremely attentive.