Bairro Alto is one of Lisbon’s trendiest neighbourhoods, known for its charming shops, hip restaurants and vibrant nightlife. It’s also a fantastic place to stay the night, with a great range of boutique guest houses, luxury hotels and budget hostels peppered throughout the district.
Bairro Alto and its cobbled streets date to the 16th century – a time when a mix of working poor and high aristocracy settled in the area. Before long, this neighbourhood became a bohemian paradise, inhabited by everyone from journalists and prostitutes to fado singers and radical politicians. Today, despite extensive gentrification, some of that countercultural vibe still exists, and Bairro Alto is an area enjoyed by both residents and visitors. It is also a great place to stay the night. Here are Culture Trip’s top picks to help you sleep right in the heart of the action.
The Lumiares Hotel and Spa is located on the eastern edge of Bairro Alto, directly opposite the Glória Funicular and a short walk from the Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. From the stunning Art Deco chandelier by Scottish artist Beau McClellan hanging in its main staircase to its apartment-style suites with modern Portuguese decor, The Lumiares oozes style. Don’t miss Lumi Rooftop, its top-floor bar and restaurant, where you can watch the sunset and sip on a cold vinho verde.
This hotel’s prestigious address at Praça Luís de Camões, overlooking a statue of Portugal’s most distinguished playwright, reflects its status as one of Lisbon’s most exclusive places to stay. And while rooms at the Bairro Alto Hotel don’t come cheap, it’s a great choice for those looking to splurge. Reopening in July 2019 after a much-publicised renovation led by Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Eduardo Souto de Moura, the hotel offers 87 colourfully decorated rooms and suites festooned with local textiles. Don’t miss the hotel’s new restaurant and bar, headed by Michelin-star chef Nuno Mendes.
If you’re on a slightly tighter budget, consider staying at the Hub New Lisbon Hostel. Located at the northern end of Bairro Alto, this hostel takes fun seriously, with fantastic communal areas and an artisanal cocktail bar. It also offers plenty of great social activities, including regular pub crawls, billiard and foosball tables, and a large projector screen to watch movies or football. There’s even a pool here, though not the kind you might expect – hidden in the hostel’s basement is a ball ‘pool’ filled with over 70,000 plastic balls you can dive right into!
The Casa Das Janelas Com Vista, or the House of Windows With a View, feels more like a home than a guest house. A one-time abandoned basket factory, the building was purchased in 2009 by two Catalan entrepreneurs who lovingly converted it into 12 stylish suites, each decorated with handpicked furniture and paintings from around the world. Besides the great city views from all those windows, the Casa Das Janelas Com Vista offers a large lounge and kitchen area – an open, informal space where staff and guests can interact while eating breakfast each morning.
Found at the northern end of Bairro Alto, Lookout Lisbon! Hostel offers everything you’d expect from a top hostel experience: a welcoming atmosphere and knowledgeable staff, comfortable beds and well-designed rooms, and a delicious breakfast to get your day started. Plenty of organised activities at Lookout Lisbon! Hostel will keep you occupied during your stay, such as regular excursions to Belém and the fairytale town of Sintra. Don’t miss the hostel’s free sangria nights.
For a more refined hostel experience, check out the quirky Independente Hostel and Suites. There’s something for everyone here, with a choice between well-priced hostel beds and stylish private rooms, all decorated with an eclectic mix of vintage furniture. Breakfast is served at the popular ground-floor restaurant, while evenings can be spent at the rooftop bar. The Independente is perfect for those seeking the affordability of a hostel with the style and comfort of a boutique hotel.
For a little luxury without breaking the bank, try the Palácio das Especiarias, or Spice Palace. This historical building dates to the 16th century when Lisbon was the centre of a global empire and spices were imported from around the world. Located just outside Bairro Alto, on the edge of Praça Luís de Camões, the Palácio offers beautifully decorated rooms, friendly staff and an excellent breakfast. Highlights include dinner at the in-house Taverna Camões and breakfast accompanied by live piano music each morning.
Originally built as the residence of the Earl of Verride, this impressive 18th-century palace has been put to several uses over the years, before its recent redevelopment as a luxury hotel. With only 19 rooms and suites, the Verride is much smaller than it looks, so expect the kind of personalised and intimate experience fit for, well, an earl. All rooms here come with designer sheets and toiletries, while the hotel’s excellent restaurants serve contemporary Portuguese cuisine. A rooftop, complete with a bar and swimming pool, offers stunning panoramic views of Lisbon.
Lisbon’s cultural scene includes plenty of fantastic art galleries, and here’s your chance to spend the night in one. Part guest house, part art gallery, Raw Culture is set in a former print factory in the heart of Bairro Alto. Its loft apartments, each equipped with kitchenettes and configurable for up to four guests, are decorated with retro furniture and pieces from the owner’s private art collection, including works by popular Portuguese artists such as Miguel Januário, João Castro Silva and Wasted Rita. Temporary exhibitions and events often take place in the ground-floor gallery space.
If you’re a bit of a party animal, the Alface Hostel is the place to be. Here, the lively bars and restaurants of Bairro Alto (including the renowned Adega Machado fado club, just a few doors down) are within walking distance of your bed, and as the hostel is budget-friendly, you won’t be strapped for cash either. The hostel’s wooden floors and shabby chic design make for an authentically bohemian vibe. While the Alface Hostel may be relatively basic, its location right in the heart of Bairro Alto’s nightlife is hard to beat.