It is hard to believe that beautiful beaches, lively night life, enticing cuisine, fascinating history, a superb art scene and 290 days of annual sunshine is all accessible within one small European city, but Lisbon is a capital that likes to break the rules. Currently one of the world’s most ‘on-trend’ cities, Lisbon continues to hoard accolades including recently being named the World’s Leading City Destination 2018 at the World Travel Awards. I have put together this short guide to share some of the best places to eat and sleep in The City of the Seven Hills.
Lisbon offers a wide variety of hotel options from budget to extravagant but my favourite in the entire city lies within its centre. The Corinthia Hotel embodies everything that is spectacular about the city where it resides. It is only a short drive to the airport and within walking distance of some incredible attractions such as Monsanto National Park, Lisbon Zoo and El Corte Ingles Shopping Mall making it the perfect base to explore from.
The Corinthia Hotel welcomes guest with a stunning grand lobby space with receptive multi-lingual staff. The décor is beautiful, and the clever use of art, ornaments and textures makes the rooms feel more like a palatial home as opposed to a hotel.
The beautiful Deluxe Rooms were recently refurbished and offer a king size bed, floor to ceiling windows, a large television and a coffee machine. They offer stunning views of the towering 18th century Aqueduct of Aguas Livre. Uniquely, the staff are known to surprise guests with random gifts including pastries, fruits and cream teas which is a lovely gesture.
The opulent breakfast at The Corinthia Hotel is one of the best in the world. A skilled pianist plays delicately to the room as guests enjoy an array of breakfast items including smoked salmon, omelettes, oats and champagne.
Something additionally unique that sets The Corinthia apart from other hotels is their Executive Sky Lounge. The concept is similar to an airport lounge with qualifying guests gaining unlimited access to the 24th floor area where they can enjoy complimentary food and drink including an executive breakfast buffet, live cooking and champagne. The views from the lounge are beautiful and the space offers travellers some additional tranquillity.
Other facilities that can be enjoyed at The Corinthia Hotel include a modern gym, swimming pool, a sun decking area for bathing and an array of first-class bars and restaurants.
The Occidental Lisboa is another superb option which allows travellers to really connect with the Portuguese capital. Based within the tranquillity of a residential area away from the hustle and bustle of the city, located between the Eduardo VII Park and Amoreiras, the hotel has excellent connections to the city and is close to leisure and shopping areas.
Interestingly, the hotel lies opposite what I liken to Lisbon’s Berlin wall (minus the historical significance) with a sprawling canvas full of bright and vibrant street art. Despite being peaceful, the area feels almost edgy with interesting and fashionable characters going about their daily lives not to dissimilar from Shoreditch or Williamsburg.
The rooms within The Occidental are generously large yet still feel welcoming and homely. Visitors can expect some tempting Pasteis de Natas to be waiting in their room upon arrival which instantly adds a touch of traditional Lisboa to the experience. The hotel offers an à la carte restaurant and two bars, one of which has magnificent views of the city. There is also a 24-hour gym and a business area for hosting private events.
Benefitting from its unique geography Lisbon has a spectacular food scene. It’s close proximity to the North Atlantic provides incredible fresh fish, the mountainous Iberian Peninsula produces some of the best pork around whilst cafés around the city churn out thousands of Pastel De Natas.
The most iconic restaurant in Lisbon is the opulent Varanda at Four Seasons. Varanda succeeds in taking guests on a Portuguese culinary journey. With an extensive wine cellar and exceptional Eduardo VII Park views, it’s the place to see and be seen, all while sampling some of the region’s most revered specialities and sought-after ingredients.
Visually the restaurant space is mesmerising. The grand dining room is wrapped in luxurious flowers and the stunning chandeliers command the rooms full attention. The knowledgeable staff are on hand to explain the exact regions the ingredients have been sourced and their passion for the food they are serving is glaring. The same can be said for their best in field sommelier who is on hand to offer wine connoisseurs the perfect pairing.
The menu showcases the best of Portuguese cooking and focusses on sea food, truffle and pork. Executive Chef Pascal Meynard is a seafood enthusiast and that transpires into the restaurants signature dishes. A standout on the menu is Octopus Confit from the Algarve with crispy vegetables. The light tasting octopus is brought to life by the crisp shisho and the subtle and smokey flavour of espelette. If seafood is not your preference then the Suckling Pig with caramelized onion, vegetables and green sansho is a close second. Presented immaculately the succulent pork compliments the famous citrusy Japanese pepper – it’s a real showstopper.
Varanda at Four Seasons continually holds its place at the top of Lisbon’s restaurant scene, and it is clear to see why.
For those who want to experience a local restaurant with a secluded and exclusive feel Café Princpe Real is the perfect choice. Tucked away off a main road within a young vibrant neighbourhood of Lisbon the stylish restaurant awaits.
Residing within the polished Memmo Principe Real guests can grab a cocktail by the turquoise swimming pool with magnificent views over the city to start the experience. Attentive staff drift around the bar area ensuring that the complimentary snacks are replenished and that your glass is always full.
Once inside the chic restaurant, start with either the delicate Salmon Tartar and the juicy Spicy Prawns or the standout rich Mushroom Ragout with Pastrami, Egg and Truffle. The main menu has a wide range of options including a delicious Asian Vegetable Linguini and an ambitious Grouper and Prawn curry. As with most restaurants in Lisbon the fish is incredible, and the Grouper is lean, moist and slightly sweet. The standout dish from the main course menu is the Asian Duck option where the duck is paired brilliantly with traditional Asian spices. Warm ginger, rich hoisin and sweet sugar combine to bring the poultry to life.
Café Principe Real is always crammed with locals which is a wonderful seal of approval for any restaurant.
Lisbon truly is a remarkable city and if you follow this guide you will be experiencing the best it has to offer.
Jack David is a London based music industry professional with a passion for writing and travel. He has previously written for lifestyle publications Flavourmag and tmrw Magazine.