Tucked away in a gated compound in Chiado, this sweet-and-chic guest house offers luxury stays with a welcoming family atmosphere. The hotel's history will thrill those who have a soft spot for Portugal's famous cakes and pastries-it is named for Balthazar Roiz Castanheiro, the founder of the Confeitaria Nacional (Lisbon's oldest patisserie), who moved into the property in 1882. The building still belongs to the family, and the outrageously good cakes, pastries, and biscuits served at breakfast all come from the still-thriving pastry firm.
With just 17 rooms, Casa Balthazar still maintains the atmosphere of a family home (albeit a particularly well-to-do family) and the beautiful fixtures and fittings reflect the refined tastes of the owners.
Located in Chiado, at the epicenter of Lisbon's handsome downtown, the guest house is hidden from the tourist hordes on a quiet back street, and stepping inside feels like a wonderful wind-down after a busy day exploring the city. A pool, and gorgeous views, make a stay here even more of a treat.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Casa Balthazar is located on a hill and there are some steps to climb on arrival.
The 17 rooms and suites at Casa Balthazar are all decorated in classic-contemporary style, and each is individually decorated with rich fabrics, one-off pieces of furniture and colorful framed artworks. Guests are welcomed with a bottle of Portuguese wine in-room, and all rooms have a King size bed or two large singles. Nespresso machines and free Wi-Fi are provided, and the delicious breakfasts from Confeitaria Nacional are delivered to guests in their room each morning. Rooms have panoramic views over the city or overlook the pool and gardens, suites have kitchenettes, and some and some even have a terrace with private jacuzzi. Very effective soundproofing virtually eliminates street noise from this busy part of the city.
Bathrooms are spacious and have tubs with overhead shower or separate shower cubicle, a good array of complimentary toiletries, and nice touches such as heated towel rails, as well as comfy robes.
The lobby at Casa Balthazar feels like a particularly well-appointed front room, and guests can help themselves to complimentary tea and coffee as they flick through travel magazines and books. Staff at the tiny reception offer a warm welcome, and there are three spacious living rooms, one of which has a well-stocked drinks cabinet operating on an honor system.
A small, heated pool on the terrace offers guests a chance to take a refreshing dip, and the sun loungers surrounding the pool provide an opportunity to dry off and enjoy a spot of secluded sunbathing.
There's no restaurant on site, but the breakfasts, served in-room each morning, are an indulgent feast of fresh juices, coffee, and delicious cakes (from Confeitaria Nacional, naturally).
The owners of Cafe Balthazar run a nearby restaurant, Cafe Buenos Aires, and guests are given vouchers for discounted meals
Casa Balthazar has a bar area operating on an honor system, and guests can mix themselves a drink and enjoy it by the pool or in one of the living rooms.
Aside from the hilly streets and some steep steps, Casa Balthazar is easy to reach. It's less than six miles from the airport, and Aerobus shuttles stop nearby on Rossio square. Taxis should cost less than 20 euro for the trip, which takes around 15-20 minutes. The metro and train station at Rossio provide links to most of Lisbon and out to Sintra and Queluz, and guests in a reasonably fit form will be able to explore most of the city's attractions on foot from this central spot.
Mere steps from the hotel, Cafe Buenos Aires (1-minute walk) is run by the owners of Casa Balthazar and serves sophisticated main meals and small plates, influenced by the flavors of Argentina and Portugal. Guests get a good discount, and there's an excellent wine list. Also nearby is Bairro do Avillez (5-minute walk) a unique spot where Michelin-starred chef Jose Avillez showcases his flair in a casual bistro and a formal dining restaurant, and customers can stock up on ingredients at a gourmet deli.
It's a very short stroll to Topo Chiado (1-minute walk), a lovely outdoor bar spread over several levels, where DJs spin tunes and mixologists whip up cocktails under the stars or the sunshine, depending on the hour. For something more traditional, head to A Brasileira (5-minute walk). One of the oldest bars/coffee houses in Lisbon, this popular spot on Rua Garrett has sidewalk tables and chairs that are perfect for soaking up the busy street scene.
WHY WE LIKE IT
A discreet, hidden spot in the scenic historic center of Lisbon, this lovely boutique guest house offers guests a warm welcome and a personalized service that can't be replicated in larger properties. The rooms are comfortable and beautifully appointed, and those with a terrace and jacuzzi offer unforgettable stays.