Central city hotels so often lack space and style, but this converted Portuguese palace in the historic heart of Lisbon has both in spades. Even the smallest rooms are large and elegant, with beautiful, understated décor.
It’s a fitting introduction to a city that has both a beguiling history and a compelling contemporary scene. Santiago de Alfama may be the new kid on the block (we were the first guests when it opened in summer 2015), but its sophistication and facilities will quickly make it part of Lisbon’s stylish fabric.
Rooms: Each of the 19 rooms is different, with ample individual charm. Some are more contemporary than others (think Lichtenstein pop-art and Banksy prints), but all have a smart TV and most a wall of wardrobes. We particularly loved the Santiago Suite, which is spread over the top of the palace and has panoramic views down to the river Tagus, though the vista from the sunken bathtub in the Deluxe River View room is also very special.
Food: Although breakfast is not included in the room rate, it encompasses plenty of irresistible options from pastries, fruit platters and cooked dishes to the signature house bagel. Evening meals in the lovely restaurant, A Fábrica de Santiago, are just as tempting: we shared a delicious arroz malandrinho (a rice dish similar to paella) bursting with prawns, salmon and spiced white fish. It’s the ideal place to dine, but not before a cocktail in the high-ceilinged Manny’s Bar.
Top tip: If you long for a latte, macchiato or flat white over the ubiquitous Portuguese bica (espresso), try the Scandi-chic Copenhagen Coffee Lab in Principe Real; super hip!
i-escape gift: An express manicure in the Beauty Bar or a welcome drink (per person).