Martinhal Lisbon Chiado

Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal Book from

Recommended awaiting i-escape review
Stylish new family hotel with 37 studios and apartments, a central location and superb childcare facilities
We’d never thought of Lisbon as a particularly family-focused destination - we thought its cool, arty vibe better suited to an adult weekend away. But that was before Martinhal opened a hotel here. And as soon as we saw it was set in vibrant Chiado (pedestrianised areas, friendly restaurants), with gorgeous studios and apartments and all their classic childcare ingredients, we knew it would be fabulous. Martinhal's previous openings, Sagres and Cascais, tick all the boxes for superb family holidays, and Lisbon has way more to offer locally. There are trams to ride on, riverboat cruises, a puppet museum and Europe's biggest aquarium. Older kids will love the history (and custard tarts) at Bélem, and pretending to fire canons on the ramparts of Castelo São Jorge. Younger kids will go wild for horse and carriage rides, street performers, sandy beaches and Monsanto, where there's a giant playground and public outdoor pool.

The hotel's brilliant kids' club has everything from playmats to PlayStations, plus creative activities, story hours, even an indoor climbing wall. We're yet to visit ourselves but those who’ve stayed say creche staff are ‘exceptional’, and that their kids ‘didn’t want to leave’. So give everyone a holiday - treat your children to an afternoon of supervised fun while you visit museums and hip boutiques, or an evening 'pyjama party' while you check out the bars and gastro restaurants nearby. Win win.

Highs

  • Beautifully decorated and spacious studios (31-42sqm) or apartments with 1-2 bedrooms, all with kitchens
  • Exceptionally kind staff
  • All kids need: imaginative play areas, space to run around, cool bedrooms, activities nearby
  • All parents need: simple meals to suit fussy eaters, great sound-proofing, and equipment to borrow (sterilisers, potties, buggies)
  • All parents want: stylish décor, cultural sights and family restaurants you can walk to, plus superlative childcare for adult alone time

Lows

  • No formal restaurant in the hotel, just a café for breakfast and light meals, but the neighbourhood teems with eateries
  • No pool
  • Only 1 bathroom per apartment

Best time to go

Lisbon is lovely at any time of year. In June, the streets erupt in festivities to celebrate its patron saint, Santo Antonio. Free concerts, parades and stalls selling freshly grilled sardines abound. October is also a very pleasant month to visit, with fewer tourists and an average temperature of 19C. There's free childcare at the kids' club during November-March.

Our top tips

Bring a sling. Navigating Lisbon’s cobbled streets and steep hills can be tricky with a buggy.

The famous Mercado da Ribiera is a 5-minute stroll away. Once a simple produce market, it’s more of a sophisticated food court these days, with canteen-style communal tables and food by some of Portugal's top chefs. Great for lunch and buying food to self-cater.

Great for...

City Style
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique hotel
  • 8 studios, 29 apartments
  • Café and bar (open daily)
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

There are 8 studios and 29 apartments, all beautifully decorated with white walls offsetting 50s-style furniture: oak sideboards, cork coffee tables, anglepoise lamps. Which you choose depends on how many children you have in tow.

Velvet cushions, sofas and armchairs provide bright pops of colour - lime green, rose pink - as do bed blankets and red or blue statement walls in the studios. Artwork throughout is striking and modern. Floor-to-ceiling windows let the light pour through, and their original shutters provide perfect darkness at night. Thankfully, soundproofing is excellent. Bathrooms (1 per studio or apartment) are modern affairs; marble tiles, square sinks and a shower over a tub, except the Superior Deluxe Apartments which have walk-in showers. The design is a bit bland but bathrobes and toiletries up the ante.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Dishwasher
  • DVD player (on request)
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Washing machine
  • WiFi

Eating

A bright-red BMW turned play space in the M Bar Family Cafe gives kids somewhere to ‘drive’ while you order and await food. There’s also lots of floor space for inquisitive wandering, and a corner filled with toys (taking the pressure off those ‘please just sit quietly’ situations). The menu’s not huge, but it includes stuff that children love (sandwiches, sweet and savoury tapas, crepes) and is perfect for a quick lunch or easy supper.

Breakfasts are served in here, too (cereals, pastries, eggs to order), but most people opt for the in-room breakfast hamper: pastries, orange juice, yoghurt and jams. You have your own kitchen for self-catering - stove, oven, fridge-freezer, Nespresso - and a dishwasher for tidying up.

Chiado is teeming with excellent restaurants, both family-friendly and intimate (for nap-time in the buggy or a romantic evening out). Staff will give recommendations and help with bookings.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Food blender
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hob stove
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Ride the clackety trams up and down vertiginous streets, a highlight for all the family. Just beware of pickpockets on Tram 28
  • The aquarium is Europe’s largest indoor, with 8,000 species including sharks, rats, sea dragons and sun fish. Lisbon Zoo is also brilliant, with rare white tigers and a family of mountain gorillas. There’s a petting corner with rabbits and guinea pigs for youngsters
  • The medieval Castelo São Jorge is a must-visit, with its ancient ramparts and canons. A camera obscura in the Tower of Ulysses provides a 360-degree perspective of the city below
  • Take a Hippotrip amphibious sightseeing cruise, in buses that turn into boats!
  • Jardim da Estrela is a large green space in the centre with a café, a big playground, a large climbing frame and 'hidden treasures’ trails
  • We love Museu da Marioneta, Lisbon’s puppet museum, with a collection of traditional marionettes from Portugal, China, India, Thailand and Brazil, as well as exquisite glove puppets. Kids can make their own puppets at the end
  • The Science Alive centre (Pavilhao do Conhecimento ) is great for a rainy day, an interactive museum with working exhibits, puzzles and phenomena
  • A cable car runs over the estuary, offering a 20-minute flight with panoramic views over the city
  • Older kids will enjoy the 19th-century warship, D. Fernando II e Glória, now restored and dry docked. Mannequins bring the experience to life
  • Golden beaches are easily reached. The Costa da Caparica is a 15-minute taxi ride, the Praia do Tamariz is a leisurely tram ride (get off at Estoril, 30 minutes from central Lisbon), or drive to beautiful Guincho if you’ve got a car
  • Tram to Bélem, where many of the 14th-century 'voyages of discovery' departed. Visit the Discoveries Monument, picnic in the botanical gardens and queue for delicious pastéis de nata at the famous Pastéis de Bélem bakery
  • Bus 24 (or a cheap taxi) will take you to Monsanto, with its giant playground (endless slides, teepees, a pirate ship) and outdoor swimming pool

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Aquarium
  • Boat trips
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Parks
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

This is a parents' dream. It's aimed at families and its core clientele are families, so there's no need to worry about your kids disrupting anyone else's holiday. There's baby equipment to borrow (pre-booking recommended), a kids' club, superlative childcare, and a café serving simple meals and a range of purees for under 1s. Reception has a shop selling lotions, nappies and snacks. Best of all they offer a 'pyjama party' club - children are looked after in a big tent with Fatboy puffs, where they can rest, listen to stories and sleep, giving parents the chance for an evening out.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Deluxe Studios are an open-plan room with a kingsize bed and space for a baby cot. Superior Deluxe Studios are open-plan with a kingsize bed, bunkbeds and space for a baby cot. All 1-bed Apartments have a kingsize/twin bedroom and a living area with bunkbeds and space for a baby cot. Deluxe Apartments with 2 bedrooms have a kingsize bedroom, a bunk-bed room and space for a baby cot. Superior Deluxe Apartments with 2 bedrooms have a kingsize bedroom, twin bedroom and bunkbeds, plus space for a baby cot in the living room. All studios and apartments except Superior Deluxe Apartments have a tub in their bathroom, and all have a full kitchen with a washing machine.

Babysitting:

On request, either in the kids' club or in your room/apartment.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots with bedding
  • Baby baths
  • Bottle warming/sterilisers
  • Stair gates
  • Potties
  • Pushchairs

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

Creche/Kid's Club:

The kids' club takes children from 6 months-16 years of age, and has an enormous range of toys, games and imaginative play facilities. You can book 2-hour slots and a second sibling receives a 25% discount.

Children's meals:

The M Bar Family Cafe serves a range of kid-friendly meals, plus purees for under 1s.

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Castelo São Jorge
  • Aquarium
  • Boat rides
  • Tram rides
  • Markets
  • Street performers
  • Playgrounds
  • Beaches
  • Horse & carriage rides

Distances:

  • Airport: 10km (Lisbon)
  • Shops/restaurants: 0.1km
  • Hospital: 5km
Kid Friendly:

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