A good bet for night owls keen to explore the nightlife hub that is Bairro Alto, this 2005-inaugurated boutique hotel is housed in a grand 19th Century building and impresses with its subtle-yet-chic interior design. The hotel's appeal goes beyond its stylish rooms and stellar service - its terrace bar is frequently cited as offering some of the best views in the city, while a second bar pulls in a fashionable crowd with its DJ sets and cocktail list. The Flores do Bairro restaurant serves traditional Portuguese food—both snacks and full meals. Parking is in a public underground facility out front. Unusually for a boutique hotel in Lisbon's historic centre, the hotel has a fitness center, and massages can be arranged on request.
Guests can ask staff to sign them up for Free Walking Tours taking in Lisbon's many impressive sights
The hotel's 51 rooms and four suites fall into six categories, and all are simply-but-stylishly decorated, with soft blues, whites and cream tones and elegant furnishings. Most rooms look out onto either the famous Praça Luís de Camões Square, the quieter Rua das Flores or the busy Rua do Alecrim. This is one of the liveliest parts of the city for nightlife--and the partying often goes on until dawn--but effective double glazing all but eliminates street noise. There's even a "pillow menu" for those who are particular about where they lay their heads. The decor is classic, but flat screen TVs and in-room Wi-Fi bring things up to date. Fourth floor Superior Rooms have terraces with dramatic city views, Suites have living rooms and desks.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Some of the Single Rooms and Mansard rooms are small and lack real views--check what you are paying for when you book.
The spick and span bathrooms have smart, contemporary fixtures and fittings and upmarket amenities, some have separate showers, Prestige Rooms and Suites have retro-chic clawfoot bath tubs.
The hotel's lobby reflects its status as a luxury Five Star Lodging--the space is immaculately maintained, staff at the 24-hour reception are helpful, and the concierge is a wealth of information about the city. The clean lines, arched doorways and modern artworks reflect the hotel's contemporary-classic feel.
There's no spa, but guests can book massage treatments.
For those who don't find Lisbon's steep cobbled streets to be enough of a workout, the Bairro Alto Hotel has a small fitness center, with a workout room and modern equipment.
Bairro Alto Hotel has several dining options--for upscale light meals such as gourmet hamburgers and smoked salmon with quinoa salad, head to the Terraco BA Bar with its famous views, or to the trendy downstairs cafe-bar. For more formal dining, the Flores do Bairro restaurant serves contemporary fusion cuisine in a pleasant space whose large windows have great views onto the busy square outside. The menu uses fresh, seasonal ingredients, and fish dishes are dependably good.
Don't skip the couvert--the basket of home-made breads is particularly delicious.
The hotel's terrace bar frequently crops up on lists of the best places to eat and drink with a view in Lisbon, and the sweeping views over the River Tagus, the Christ statue and the red-roofed buildings of Lisbon will make those well-crafted cocktails taste even sweeter. The downstairs cafe-bar has a separate entrance, and attracts a buzzy crowd of artfully-bearded young men and sharply-coiffured young ladies. DJs spin everything from rock to samba, and the fun continues late into the night.
Energetic guests can burn off their breakfast pasteis de nata by exploring the switchback streets on foot, while those who want to enjoy more leisurely sightseeing can board the famous 28 Tram (a tourist attraction in itself) which rattles by the hotel on its route around the historic heart of Lisbon. Baixa/Chiado metro is a few minutes' walk away, with quick links to the airport, and it's less than 15 minutes on foot to Cais do Sodre, the jumping-on point for ferries across the Tejo and trains out to Estoril and Cascais beaches. Rossio railway station (8-10 minute walk) has trains to the fairytale mountain town of Sintra.
Some of the best restaurants in Lisbon are within walking distance of the hotel. Check out the foodie neighborhood opened by Portugal's most famous chef, Jose Avillez, at Bairro do Avillez (4-minute walk)--the 2016 opening has a high-end restaurant, informal tavern, and a gourmet food store. For coffee and cakes, try to get one of the hotly-contested tables on the flagstones at Cafe a Brasileira (2 minute walk), one of the oldest coffee shops in town and a good place to watch street musicians and just soak up Lisbon's lively downtown vibes.
The Bairro Alto Hotel is literally surrounded by bars--guests can take their pick from hipster-frequented gin joints, sunny roof terraces, and famous casas do fado. Lisbonites like to make the most of the long, sunny summer nights--join them for drinks with a view at Miradoura da Santa Catarina (Santa Catarina viewpoint, 6 minute walk), or head to the waterfront at Praça do Comércio (10 minute walk) to enjoy cocktails while lounging on a deckchair and enjoying a spot of live music. When winter comes along, locals swap sangria for vinho quente (hot, spiced wine) and carry on the party.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Bairro Alto Hotel has a privileged location at the heart of Lisbon, close to all the sightseeing, nightlife, and dining action. The building has bags of historic charm, service is superb, and the hotel's terrace bar alone is worth a visit. The restaurant is excellent, transport links are good, and rooms are sufficiently sound-proofed to allow for a good night's sleep despite the very central location.