“A hidden adults-only gem in Lisbon’s historic heart, with chic interiors, a rooftop pool and unrivalled views”
Hidden down a cobbled street lined with orange trees, the 42-room Memmo Alfama (younger sibling of the Algarve's Memmo Baleeira) is a minimalist reinvention of a 19th-century factory. The façade has been carefully retained so that it blends seamlessly into the jumble of terracotta roofs and whitewashed buildings, and the only clue to its new incarnation is the striking mural by street artist Vihls which adorns one wall. But step inside and you’ll find a calming oasis of wood and stone, with modernist décor that perfectly complements the original features. Arne Jacobsen ‘Swan’ chairs are dotted around an airy lounge, and the old vaulted brick bread oven has been turned into a cosy reading room. But the real jewel in Memmo’s crown is the rooftop terrace, with its shimmering infinity pool, wine bar and jaw-dropping views.
- Ideal for those seeking romance and sophistication, with an adults-only policy and seriously stylish design throughout
- The views from the roof terrace are some of Lisbon’s finest - soak up some rays on a lounger, take a dip in the red-tiled pool, and then snuggle up by a firepit as the sun sets
- Free walking tours of Alfama with wonderfully passionate guides who point out hidden treasures around every corner
- Warm staff and a laid-back vibe help you feel instantly at home
- The rickety yellow Tram 28 stops a few steps away, providing direct access to downtown, and trendy cafés and shops are close by
- Rooms are small with showers only, but they feel light - pick an Alfama Room if you want a view, or opt for the Mansard Junior Suite if you’d prefer more space
- No restaurant, but they do serve excellent Portuguese tapas and bar snacks
- It can be tricky to find and most taxi drivers won’t know the hotel
- Bar staff may get busy, but there’s a button to call a waiter to take your order
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Breakfast + wine bar serving tapas and snacks (open daily)
- Over 16s only
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Complimentary walking tours
There are 42 rooms, arranged over 4 floors. They’re compact but feel light and bright, with beech-wood floors and a natural palette of cool white, calming creams and soft greys. Beds are covered in Egyptian linen and piled high with pillows, and sandy-hued rugs add a pop of colour. A framed fado LP perched above the headboard in each room serves as a reminder that Alfama is the home of this traditional (and once again very popular) Portuguese folk music. Blackout shutters keep the interiors blissfully calm at night, and we slept like babies throughout our stay.
We plumped for one of the Alfama Rooms. They’re simply furnished doubles or twins with chunky natural-wood bedside tables and writing desks, but all have wonderful views over the rooftops, clothes lines and bell towers of the old town to the river beneath; gazing out at the misty morning cityscape from our bed was a real treat. Terrace Rooms have doors which open out onto a shared wooden deck where you can lounge in 60s Acapulco chairs and soak up the same glorious sights. Mansard Rooms are located under the eaves and their views are obscured by a wall (there’s a little step up to the window so you can peer over it), while Patio Rooms are small and have no view to speak of.
If you want a little more space, opt for a Mansard or Alfama Superior Room, or splash out on the Mansard Junior Suite, whose sitting area makes up for the lack of view.
Bathrooms are separated from the bedrooms by a glass wall, which adds a perception of more space (you can pull across a floor-to-ceiling curtain to preserve modesty). They have rainfall showers, locally made Saboaria Portugueza toiletries and fluffy cotton towels and bathrobes; all rooms also come with flat-screen TVs, iPod docks, WiFi and minibars.
- Air conditioning
- Ipod dock
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
There’s no restaurant at the hotel, but the wine bar serves up terrifically fresh seafood, salads and Portuguese tapas - just press the call bell to summon a waiter. We ate alfresco on the terrace and gorged on olives, stuffed crab and crispy croquettes oozing with cheese and ham, all washed down with a smooth red wine from the Douro Valley.
Breakfast is served in the lounge, but you can take it up to the terrace when the sun shines. Laid out over a dresser is an abundance of seasonal fruit, cereal, local cheeses, breads and pastries (including irresistible pastel de nata, naturally), and hidden behind a beautifully ornate door is a smart Smeg fridge laden with yoghurts, juices and milk in retro glass bottles. Friendly staff take drinks requests from your table (either a large table in the middle of the room or individual tables dotted around it), and eggs and bacon can be cooked to order.
When it comes to eating out, you’re really spoilt for choice in Lisbon. Nearby, we liked the laid-back vibe at Pois Café, which is something of a local institution - find a spot amongst the mismatched old furniture and tuck into tasty Portuguese-Austrian brunches, salads and light meals. We also loved the rustic Portuguese food (grilled sardines, seafood rice, salt cod) at Patrono, a pretty little place opposite the Museu do Fado. For something special, head to 100 Maneiras in Bairro Alto for a fun, modern take on traditional fare, including the signature ‘codfish clothes line’ (pieces of dehydrated cod pegged onto a clothes line). The foie gras with truffle mousse was a taste sent from heaven.
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Join the hotel’s free walking tour of Alfama (highly recommended), or head off on your own to explore the warren of twisting cobbled streets, steep stairwells and spectacular vistas. The best views are those from the public belvederes of Portas do Sol and Santa Luzia
- Lisbon cathedral, São Jorge Castle and the beautiful Santa Engrácia church are all on your doorstep, too
- Take a stroll around the Feira da Ladra flea market on nearby Campo de Santa Clara (every Tuesday and Sunday), which brims with bric-a-brac, antiques, clothes, jewellery and old photographs
- Hop onboard Tram 28, which rattles down to the city centre - an unmissable Lisbon experience
- Learn about the history of Portugal’s haunting fado music at the Museu do Fado (a short walk from the hotel), then hear the best of the new-generation fado artists at church-turned-tavern Mesa de Frades (Rua dos Remédios 139a)
- Visit the LX Factory in the Alcantara district. Once a sprawling industrial complex, it’s now a creative island of artists’ and architects’ studios, workshops, cultural associations and cafés
- Head to the terrace bar at Chapitô à Mesa, Lisbon's famed circus school, for sunset cocktails overlooking the city
- For the best pastel de nata in Lisbon, go to Pastelaria Aloma in the Campo d’Ourique neighbourhood
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Fado music
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Traditional cultures
- Wine tasting