Memmo Alfama

Alfama, Lisbon, Portugal Book from Book from £106 per night

A hidden adults-only gem in Lisbon’s historic heart, with chic interiors, a rooftop pool and unrivalled views
Sprawling down the hillside between São Jorge Castle and the River Tagus, Alfama has experienced something of a renaissance in recent years. Lisbon’s oldest district (and one of the few to survive the 1755 earthquake virtually unscathed), it was left almost deserted as younger generations moved to more fashionable areas. But fast-forward to the present day and Alfama has been rediscovered, its old-world charms luring a cosmopolitan crowd. It was only a matter of time before a slick design hotel moved in, too.

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 bakery. 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.

Highs

  • 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
  • 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 location: the rickety yellow Tram 28 stops a few steps away, providing direct access to downtown, and an abundance of trendy cafés and shops are close by

Lows

  • Rooms are small with showers only, but they feel light, modern and fresh
  • Dinner is not available at the hotel, but they do serve excellent Portuguese tapas and bar snacks during the day
  • The hotel is set on a cobbled back street so can be tricky to find
  • Service at breakfast and lunch can be slow; you may have to track down staff to order
  • Views across the river are periodically obscured by cruise ships (usually gone by early evening)

Best time to go

Lisbon is fabulous at any time. Coastal breezes mean the temperatures are bearable even in the height of summer, and there are festivals throughout the year (including Carnaval in February, the Lisbon Book Fair in April/May, and Rock in Rio Lisboa in mid-May). June can be raucous in Alfama, when the area hosts street parties to celebrate various saints' days. Note that many restaurants and shops close in August, though Memmo Alfama is open at all times.

Our top tips

  • Don’t miss the hotel’s free 1-hour guided walking tours, which wind their way through Alfama’s labyrinth of narrow streets. It’s a great way to discover hidden parts that you would otherwise miss, and our guide’s love for this fascinating part of the city was infectious.

  • Pick an Alfama Room if you want a view, or opt for the Premium Mansard Room if you’d prefer more space
  • Great for...

    City Style
    Honeymoon
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 42
    • Breakfast + wine bar serving tapas and snacks (open daily)
    • Over 16s only
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Concierge Service
    • Complimentary walking tours
    Room:

    Rooms

    There are 42 rooms, arranged over 4 floors. They’re compact but feel light and bright. A framed fado LP perched above the headboard in each room serves as a reminder that Alfama is the home of this traditional 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 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 Premium Mansard 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.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Hairdryer
    • Ipod dock
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Phone
    • Radio
    • Safe box
    • Satellite TV
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi

    Eating

    There’s no restaurant at the hotel, but the wine bar serves up terrifically fresh seafood, salads and Portuguese tapas. We ate alfresco on the sunny terrace and gorged on cured meats and local cheeses, crispy croquettes oozing with cheese and ham, and - our favourite - tempura green beans.

    Breakfast is served in the lounge, but you can take it up to the terrace. 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. Cooked options, including eggs, bacon and pancakes, are also available.

    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 enjoyed the fresh fish at Restaurante Farol de Santa Luzia, recommended by hotel staff and just a short walk up the hill. 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.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Breakfast
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Room service
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • 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 aboard 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
    • Nightlife
    • Private guided tours
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Traditional cultures
    • Wine tasting

    Kids

    This is very much an adults' hotel - only guests over the age of 16 are allowed, and there are no extra beds.

    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Memmo Alfama is located down a cobbled street in the heart of Alfama, Lisbon’s oldest district, which sprawls down the hillside between São Jorge Castle and the river. Most major sights are within walking distance, and Tram 28 provides direct access to downtown.

    By Air:
    Lisbon’s Portela Airport (8km away) is served by plenty of flights from the UK, elsewhere in Europe and further afield.

    From the Airport
    The hotel can arrange transfers or you can take a taxi. There’s also a metro link from the airport to the city centre, where you can pick up Tram 28 to the hotel.

    By Car:
    We don’t recommend having a car in Lisbon - the city is easily navigated on foot and by public transport, and the traffic can be tricky. If you want to hire one to explore further afield, see our car rental recommendations. The hotel offers valet parking (at an additional charge); you can pull up outside to drop off your luggage and staff will park it for you. Be sure to give them notice when you need it back.

    Detailed directions will be provided when you confirm a booking through i-escape.

    Airports:

    • Lisbon Portela 8.0 km LIS

    Other:

    • Beach 15.0 km
    • Shops 0.2 km
    • Restaurant 0.2 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 8 independent reviews from i-escape guests

    9/10
    Room
    8/10
    Food
    9/10
    Service
    8/10
    Value
    9/10
    Overall

    Great city hotel since it’s roof terrace offers a privileged respite from the crowds, combined with truly spectacular views. Fantastic location. Friendly staff but lacks any charm, but that is typical of a busy city hotel. Recommended.

    8/10,

    I loved this hotel. Small, intimate, beautifully designed with super comfy beds and delicious breakfasts. The pool area with its various sun traps, was a delight to come back too, to soak up some afternoon rays after walking around beautiful Lisbon.

    10/10,

    Amazing location with great view. Staff were very lovely. Enjoyed the walking tour offered very much. The hotel room was very small, we booked a superior room but the extra space was seemingly all in the bathroom, not the room itself.

    9/10,

    Design hotel with stunning views over Lisbon. Room was small and functional, but the hotel location and attention to detail made up for it.

    8/10,

    An amazing hotel would highly recommend it. Excellent food and the staff were so lovely. Room brilliant too, very comfy and full of everything we needed! Location of hotel ideal right in centre of old town!

    10/10,

    Breakfast and room were excellent although room was bit on the small side. Some tea and coffee making facilities in the room would have been nice.

    7/10,

    Memmo Alfama was great, staff was extraordinary friendly and helpful, room was stunning. We'll be back!!!

    9/10,

    Incredible hotel. Made our stay in Lisbon even more perfect. Fantastic location, views, room, service and food!! Highly recommended. 5 stars!

    10/10,

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