Baixa House

Baixa, Lisbon, Portugal Book from

Reviewed by Daisy Gell
Super-chic yet comfortable apartments for 1-7, bang in the centre of Lisbon, with great personal service
You wouldn’t spot Baixa House without knowing it was there: tucked away on one of Lisbon’s cobbled streets, there’s no sign to give away its location. My taxi driver hadn’t even heard of it, but that's sure to change as word gets out - this place is a real gem. A stunning 18th-century building, its grand staircase is lined with traditional Portuguese tiles and its hallways are cool, white havens. Owner Jesus spent years meticulously restoring the building's original features, and scouring vintage shops in Portugal and Spain for quirky furnishings for the 13 apartments. The result is a fantastic mismatch of old and new - each high-ceilinged room is flooded with light and beautifully, quirkily decorated, with everything you could need for a short or long stay.

It is a perfect base for exploring Lisbon. 'Baixa' means downtown and there are buzzy restaurants, bars and boutiques all around - and the classic Number 28 tram rattles right past your doorstep. It's a 5-minute walk to the Alfama (with some of the city's only remaining buildings dating from before the earthquake of 1755), and close to Rossio Square, Castelo São Jorge and the trendy Chiado and Bairro Alto districts. Friendly staff, on-hand if you need them, are the icing on the cake.

Highs

  • Light, airy and spacious apartments, each uniquely decorated. Most have French windows so you can let the breeze flow through
  • Breakfast, a homemade cake and daily cleaning are included in the price, which is unusual for city self-catering. Fresh bread is delivered to your door every morning; everything else waits in your fridge
  • Great for solo travellers, couples, friends and families (particularly with slightly older, well-behaved kids)
  • A small helpful team who make you feel instantly welcome and provide recommendations for things to do. There is a small office, manned most of the time
  • Excellent kitchens with all the kit plus basic ingredients

Lows

  • Under new management from Nov 2016, but we still expect high standards
  • The street-facing apartments are next to a busy road and it gets noisy late at night with street cleaning /recycling
  • Noise can travel between apartments as they are not sound-proofed, but we hardly heard the neighbours during our stay
  • This is the flattest part of Lisbon so it’s a climb to most other areas of the city unless you jump on a tram/bus; local transport links are excellent
  • Fans but no air con - not ideal in high summer
  • You'll need to request a TV if you want one; they don't come as standard, though they are free to borrow

Best time to go

Lisbon is a fabulous place to visit at any time of year. Proximity to the sea means that even at the height of summer temperatures are bearable, and the beach is close at hand if you feel the need to escape town. Carnaval in February is always a riot whilst for bibliophiles The Lisbon Book Fair is a must, held every year between April and May. The Alkantara and Almada performing arts festivals take place a little later, between May and July, whilst the May-time Rock in Rio Lisboa has become an established annual event. Don't expect much to be happening in August, the month when most Lisboans head off on hols.

Our top tips

  • When in Belém, be sure to eat a custard tart sprinkled with cinnamon from the famous bakery, Pastéis de Belém; they are a national delicacy
  • Drop by a cosy little tasca (bar) to discover the delights of ginginha, a cherry liqueur: the aptly named 'A Ginginha' in Rossio is a favourite
  • Great for...

    City Style
    Family
    Honeymoon
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Serviced Apartments
    • 13 apartments for 1-7 (+ babies)
    • Self-catering (+ breakfast; restaurants nearby)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Daily Maid Service
    • Towels & Bedlinen
    • Concierge Service
    Room:

    Rooms

    The 13 apartments are spread across 5 floors, each named and themed after a different park in Lisbon - photos of the park adorn the walls. White minimalist spaces are given unique style with one-off pieces and reclaimed furniture, yet they still have a homely feel.

    Each has a living area with a comfy sofa, colourful cushions and bright rugs on wooden floors, plus a kitchen and dining table. High ceilings keep things light, and French windows let the breeze run through. A couple of bedrooms face a slightly down-at heel-courtyard, but the decor is so fabulous, you won't care. Bathrooms made of local marble are on the small side but are modern and squeaky clean, with drench showers. You’ll find Alvarez Gómez shower gel and handwash, but there's no shampoo so bring your own. Towels are changed daily for short stays but only weekly for longer lets.

    For 1-4 + a baby (great for a couple or small family)
    Fronteira, Alorna, Estrela, Jeronimos, Universidade and Gulbenkian have a double/twin bedroom, double sofabed in the living room and space for a baby cot.

    For 1-5 + 1-2 babies (great for families)
    Principe Real is on the 5th floor, with fantastic original exposed rafters uncovered during the renovation. It has the smallest living space of all the apartments but still offers a double room, single room and a kids' room with bunk beds.

    For 1-4 + 1-2 babies (great for families)
    On other floors, 3 corner apartments (Belem, Necessidades, Eduardo VII) sleep 4 in a double bedroom and kids' bunk room. These were our favourites - they feel super spacious and bright.

    For 1-6 + 2 babies (great for a large family/friends)
    We stayed in Campo Grande, which had 2 double/twin rooms plus a double sofabed in its lounge - the same set-up as Ajuda. Ours had a balcony running the entire length of the apartment (watch out if you don’t have a head for heights), which was great for soaking up the sun and people watching. The living room was huge, with a long wooden table for meals, a coffee table with glossy mags in various languages, plus a big sofa. Our bedroom had a fabulous mural of a garden vista, from a second-hand shop in Madrid.

    For 1-7 + 2 babies (great for larger families or friends)
    Ultramar is the largest apartment, on the top floor with great views and lots of light and space. There's a master bedroom, 2 double/twin rooms and a single room.

    Features include:

    • Cd player
    • Central heating
    • Coffee maker
    • Cots Available
    • Dvd player
    • Extra beds
    • Fan
    • Food blender
    • Fridge
    • Full kitchen
    • Hairdryer
    • Hob stove
    • Ipod dock
    • Iron
    • Kettle
    • Oven
    • Radio
    • Satellite TV (on request)
    • Toaster
    • WiFi

    Eating

    Each apartment has a well-equipped kitchen. A few have dishwashers (Fronteira, Estrela, Ajuda, Campo Grande and Ultramar); all have a fridge-freezer, oven, hob, even a blender. There are espresso machines, percolators, kettles and toasters, too. Oil, vinegar and salt are provided, and you’ll find coffee, tea, hot chocolate and sugar in the cupboards. Some kitchens have more space than others, but you can always use the dining table in your lounge for chopping space. We were pleased to find good-quality pans, decent knives, a couple of chopping boards, cheese grater, lemon squeezer, kitchen scissors and so on. There's a supermarket and a wine shop across the road.

    When you leave the apartment for the day, housekeeping staff give it a once over and leave breakfast goodies for the next day in your fridge. Jams, yoghurt topped with fruit (ours was pear), muesli, ham, cheeses and juice. You'll also get a homemade cake every day - perfect for afternoon tea. Fresh bread is left on your doorstep every morning at 8am so you have everything you need for a leisurely breakfast when you wake up.

    If you don't want to cook, head out for lunch and dinner. Check the vintage tin in your apartment for restaurant cards - these are places that come recommended by the staff at Baixa House. We enjoyed traditional, rustic Portuguese food at the well-priced Taberna Ideal, or you can pop up the hill to trendy Bairro Alto, where there's a variety of high-end restaurants and smaller eateries.

    Features include:

    • Breakfast
    • Coffee maker
    • Food blender
    • Fridge
    • Full kitchen
    • Hob stove
    • Oven
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Toaster
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Lisbon’s trams are fabulous: old, yellow and gorgeous. They’re not fast and they move jerkily, but they’re the best way to get around town
    • Wind your way up to the historic Alfama district and get a handle on the layout of the city from the high towers of the Castelo São Jorge
    • Head out on the fado trail, best combined with dinner. Clube de Fado and A Severa are recommended - they are both pretty touristy, but this won't detract from your enjoyment of this haunting music: it's a window to the soul of the Portuguese
    • Hop on the Number 15 tram and head to Belém, from where the great explorers set off to conquer the new world. The Portuguese empire was born as a result and the Padrao dos Descobrimentos commemorates their endeavours. You’ll also find the waterside Torre de Belém and the impressive San Jeronimo monastery
    • Spend a day on the beach in Cascaís then feast on fresh fish at one of its waterfront restaurants - the train leaves from nearby Cais do Sodre and rattles along the coast

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Cooking classes
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Kitesurfing
    • Language courses
    • Museums / galleries
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Sailing
    • Shopping / markets
    • Surfing
    • Wine tasting
    • Yoga

    Kids

    A good option for families, with various sizes of apartment and configurations of bedrooms, but note that the general ambiance is quiet, and children must be well-behaved so as not to disturb neighbours. Baby cots can be provided as can high chairs and baby baths, all free of charge. Babysitting for children of all ages can be arranged in advance.

    Best for:

    All ages

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Belem, Necessidades, Eduardo VII and Principe Real - these 4 apartments have bunk beds in their second bedroom, and the bedroom is at the back of the building, which is quieter. Note all bathrooms are shower only, no baths.

    Babysitting:

    Can be arranged in advance

    Baby equipment:

    • Baby cots
    • High chairs
    • Baby baths
    • Food blenders

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Families Should Know:

    Do be aware that there is street noise at night

    Distances:

    • Airport: 6.5km (Lisbon)
    • Shops, including a pharmacy: 2 minutes' walk
    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    9/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    9/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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