[LISBOA, PORTUGAL] — In planning for a trip to Portugal with a bunch of friends last month, I was in charge of looking for a cool boutique hotel. Some in the group I knew, others were going to be New Friends. Some I assumed were wanting somewhere special, others (cough cough) were a little more “I’ll just use my points.”-type. The pressure was on…
Holy cow (✞🐄) it’s amazing how fast Lisbon changes. I remember the first time I went in 2013 and Baixa was mostly boarded up and there just wasn’t much to do down in that grid of slick stoned streets. Now you can’t swing a cat without hitting a spanking new hotel or IKEA-bedecked Airbnb. The question was which one.
I stumbled across this beautifully designed boutique hotel Palácio Ramalhete on my favorite boutique hotel site, Tablet Hotels (natch, always trust it for sorting through the chaff). The pics looked perfect. Seemed reasonably priced for the design. Everyone gave a 👍. So we booked it.
Palácio Ramalhete is just out of the busy part of town, in the flatter land under the hilly Lapa embassy area. Fairly quiet, but easy to shoot over and get into the thick of it and all the shouting. The twelve rooms are huge and tucked into every corner, rooftop and attic, each with its own personality. There’s even a little pool perched at the top of some steep steps.
But the lobby was my favorite part. Big huge windows suck in the light and deliver it on a platter to the tall plastered drawing rooms. Big open doors and shiny wood floors make it light and airy, with lots of couches and sitting areas to hang out for a cocktail from the neat little bar in the back.
When I heard that Madonna had lived here for months during her famous stay a couple years ago, I almost wanted to check out. But the place was too cool. It was funny to watch tuktuk drivers stop with Russian tourists, pointing to the hotel, I could understand the word “Madonna” in their description, then they’d step out, snap a pic, nod, climb back in and putter on. I can imagine the slideshow when they got home…
But that’s no reason to stay here. When you scroll through the pics, you’ll see why you should.
The little bar alone is beautiful. They put our a great breakfast spread.
Breakfast is spread throughout the many rooms, giving everyone their own space.
There’s a quiet inner courtyard, with steps leading up to the small pool and rooms tucked into different levels around the house.
Obsessed with this gorgeous crooked stairway.
The little pool isn’t huge, but a perfect place to rest with a Spritz after clamming all over Lisbon’s steep hills. A couple of pool suites open out onto this terrace. My friends stayed in one and loved it.
The rooms are huge, each one unique in it’s size and decor.
My room was great, but I my friends raved even more about each of their rooms.
Just loved the tiles all over.
I can’t believe Madonna and her 15 cars lived her for a year. Russians stop in their tuktuks, take a picture and move on…
The hotel is just down the hill from all the embassies in the luxurious Lapa neighborhood.
— Last Visited September 2019 —
Here is Palacio Ramalhete’s website. A great review in AFAR. And a near perfect 9/10 review from The Telegraph and an 8/10 “Value for your money” rating. A listing and honest description on I-escape. Palacio Ramalhete is even recommended on Goop.
And USA Today’s 10 Best List. Here’s another hotel I’ve stayed at in the same neighborhood on my first trip to Lisbon way back in 2013.
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