“A hidden adults-only gem in Lisbon’s historic heart, with chic interiors, a rooftop pool and unrivalled views”
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.
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.