Class, opulence and originality all intertwine in Lisbon’s five-star hotels. Some take inspiration from nature, while others retain a heartfelt respect for the past. Here are the very best luxury hotels in Lisbon.
Pestana Palace Lisboa
Pestana Palace Lisboa is a designated national monument | Courtesy of Pestana Palace Lisboa / Hotels.com
The 19th-century Valle Flôr Palace, erected on a hilltop in Alto de Santo Amaro with panoramic views over the River Tagus, is a Portuguese treasure and designated national monument. After buying the palace in 1992, Portuguese hotel group Pestana transformed it into luxury accommodation, keeping the Belle Époque decoration style. Wooden stairways, ceiling frescoes, glazed marble, stained-glass windows and an Asian-style pavilion in the hotel’s quiet garden (where you’ll find the Magic Spa) all add to its charm. Several restaurants – among them the Valle Flôr – and two swimming pools offer opportunities to rub shoulders with the likes of Madonna, who lived here for a few months in 2017.
The 18th-century Verride Palace lies in the Santa Catarina neighbourhood – an area full of narrow streets and steep stairways. Once the residence of a Portuguese nobleman, this palace-turned-boutique hotel lies in Bairro Alto, a vibrant neighbourhood with shopping, dining and nightlife. The hotel’s luxurious interiors feature shades of white and custom-made furniture. Facilities include the on-site SUBA Restaurant, a rooftop bar with gorgeous views over the River Tagus, and the Winter Garden, which serves breakfast.
The Hotel Avenida Palace oozes luxury and charm | Courtesy of Hotel Avenida Palace / Booking.com
Located in Praça dos Restauradores, Hotel Avenida Palace was built in the late 19th century to cater to the needs of train travellers arriving at Rossio Station, just a few steps from the building. After changing hands several times over the years, the current owners have spared no expense to maintain its grandness. You can listen to daily concerts (from jazz to the melancholic tones of fado) in the hotel’s salon. If you need a lot of space, the 100-square-metre (1,076-square-foot) presidential suite offers plenty. The hotel also has a bar where you can enjoy a cocktail in a quaint, classic setting that encourages discreet conversation while a pianist plays in the background.
Palácio do Governador used to be the residence of the governor of the 16th-century Belém Tower, a Lisbon landmark located just a few steps away. However, the palace’s historical importance dates even further back as it sits on top of Roman ruins, which are interwoven into the hotel’s design. Palácio do Governador’s two pools, spa and water-mirror garden offer an escape from day-to-day earthly affairs, while its on-site restaurant, Ânfora, offers Portuguese cuisine under vaulted ceilings.
In a 17th-century former battery in Cascais, 32 kilometres (20 miles) from Lisbon, Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho still enjoys its greatest asset – mesmerising views of the Atlantic Ocean. The on-site Michelin-star restaurant summons its menu from these waters, with speciality sea-to-plate dishes. The hotel’s proximity to Guincho Beach – never crowded, sometimes windy, always fashionable – is perfect for those who want tranquillity with a touch of sophistication.
Poet Lord Byron stayed at Lawrence’s Hotel while visiting Sintra, a quaint village confined between green-coated hills and enveloped in a seemingly everlasting mist approximately 28km (17mi) from Lisbon. Ten days were enough to create a long-lasting mystique around his short sojourn, which has fascinated literary scholars to this day. Founded in 1764, the hotel – the oldest on the Iberian Peninsula – prides itself in preserving its romantic aura. Every one of its 16 rooms maintains the appearance of the original 18th-century dwellings, yet never neglects modern-day comforts. In keeping with tradition, tea is served at 5pm every day.
During the redevelopment of the old Eurostars Museum building into a five-star hotel, builders stumbled upon many ancient artefacts of Lisbon’s old wall and port. The findings, some dating back to Roman times, were significant enough to stop work and make changes to the original project – this time, incorporating these archaeological discoveries into its design. If you’re interested in learning about these artefacts, a guided tour is available every day. The hotel also features old naval maps showing Portuguese sea routes of yore in each bedroom and has a glorious spa and indoor pool.
With a Thai-inspired spa, a world-renowned golf course, eight restaurants – among them Michelin-star LAB, led by Spanish chef Sergi Arola – and a conference centre, Penha Longa Resort is without doubt one of the largest five-star hotels on the Iberian Peninsula. It’s also in proximity to Sintra’s lush natural landscapes and the beach-sprinkled Atlantic coastline – all of which inspire the resort’s decor. It is a particular favourite for weddings and high-level meetings, yet families also love it for its family-friendly activities. Penha Longa Resort also has a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor pools, and shops.
A tight passage through a 19th-century edifice leads you to this 41-bedroom hotel, which offers views over old Lisbon cascading down the hills. Memmo Príncipe Real lies in the very heart of one of the most prestigious – and hippest – neighbourhoods in the Portuguese capital. Also known as Lisbon’s gay area, Príncipe Real is brimming with LGBTQ-friendly bars, art galleries and restaurants. If you feel like staying in, you can savour a meal at the hotel’s Café Príncipe Real while admiring the sunset over Lisbon’s rooftops.
After almost two years of extensive renovations, Bairro Alto Hotel reopened to much fanfare in July 2019. Located in Praça Luís de Camões in the heart of the old city, the hotel combines 18th-century architectural elements with more contemporary aspects. Today, Bairro Alto Hotel boasts 87 bedrooms and has an Instagram-worthy rooftop bar – a favourite thanks to its mesmerising views over red-roofed, sun-kissed Lisbon.