The Independente Suites

Near Bairro Alto, Lisbon, Portugal Book from Book from £77 per night

Palácio living with shabby-vintage style in central Lisbon: sweeping city views and 2 modern Portuguese restaurants
Famously built on 7 hills, Lisbon’s streets are calf-achingly steep. The slog to The Independente is no exception - but, wow, the views when you get here! From the Insolito rooftop restaurant you’re eye-level with the Moorish castle on the hillside opposite, while below you Baixa and Chiado sprawl down to the River Tagus.

Spread across a pair of aristocratic old townhouses - one a former ambassadorial residence - the 22 suites have a bohemian grandeur: high ceilings and parquet floors furnished with eclectic, vintage finds. In the common areas, a row of wooden tennis racquets hangs above a staircase, an old-fashioned washing machine sits beside reception, suitcases and antique typewriters are casually stacked in corners. Two tiny lifts with concertina metal gates - not for the claustrophobic - rattle up to the higher floors. It all adds to the laid-back, slightly lost-in-time vibe.

Townhouse No 83, with the majority of the rooms, feels like a private palácio. No 81 also houses the Independente Hostel (their budget sister property), which can be confusing but keeps the overall atmosphere youthful, and ensures good tips for exploring, whether that's atmospheric Alfama, Belém’s World Heritage Site or Bairro Alto’s bars. Don’t expect polish; do expect a fun vibe, creative food and Instagrammable views.

Highs

  • Excellent modern Portuguese food in the 2 restaurants: quirky Insolito and hipster Decadente
  • The location, between Bairro Alto and Chiado, and steps from the metro, the Gloria Elevator and a miradouro (lookout)
  • A relaxed, friendly atmosphere with staff who are passionate about their city and give you tips
  • The characterful-filled suites: ours had grand Corinthian columns
  • Mesmerising views from the rooftop bar, best admired with a sunset cocktail

Lows

  • No twin rooms, and some suites are narrow and rather dark
  • The lounge is shared with the hostel guests and can feel a bit student-y
  • Vintage furniture can mean practicality is sacrificed for style - our wardrobe door refused to open
  • Reception can get very busy so service is slow
  • No children under 16

Best time to go

It’s warm or hot throughout the year. Only December and January drop below the high teens, and the summer months swelter around 30 degrees. Autumn, after school holidays, or just after Easter are gorgeous times weather-wise, and avoid the peak-summer crowds.

Our top tips

When the city’s buzz gets too much, take the 30-minute train journey out to Cascais, a former fishing village turned civilised resort ringed by beaches. Wander the old town’s quiet narrow alleyways with their pastel-coloured houses and pretty window boxes. There’s also a startlingly modern gallery devoted to Paula Rego, Portugal’s leading figurative artist.

Great for...

City Style
Foodie
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • Restaurants and bar open daily
  • 16+ year olds only
  • 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

The 22 rooms (only 2 are suites in the conventional sense) differ in shape and furnishings but all display original features - parquet floors, high ceilings, shuttered windows - and share the same shabby-vintage style. You might find a marble-topped washstand as a dressing table, a coat-rail as a wardrobe, a TV propped on an old radiogram or a pile of battered books as a bedside table. Velvet-covered chairs and silk throws add softness while decorative objéts range from framed etchings to gaudy retro china.

Bathrooms are glamorous affairs with black-and-white tiled floors, deep old-fashioned basins beneath Baroque mirrors, big walk-in showers and, in the smaller rooms, cleverly mirrored side walls to give the illusion of space.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Hairdryer
  • Safe box
  • Toiletries
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

Of the 2 restaurants, the rooftop Insólito is the more interesting. Once you’re over the rickety lift, the chandelier-draped bar and gob-smacking views will blow you away (you have, of course, booked ahead to reserve an outside table). The menu offers Portuguese dishes jazzed up with considerable style. We kicked off with lobster ravioli and fennel, then headed for turbot with samphire; both delicious and unusual. Also recommended to us was the local croaker fish pan-seared with a sesame and poppy-seed crust and mango sauce. Lisboans love their puddings so we felt it would be insulting not to try the traditional serieaia (wonderfully light) egg pudding with plum ice cream…

Get up early for breakfast so you can linger over those views while working your way through a handsome spread of fruits, breads, meats and cheeses and homemade carrot cake.

The other restaurant, Decadente, has a hipster vibe and a great little beer garden. We didn't manage to eat there but it dishes up standard Portuguese fare and is popular with locals (always a good sign): shrimp bisque, Iberian pork steaks, then orange cake with lemon ice cream and wild berries.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Check reception's ‘What’s on?’ programme, which might include a free guided city tour, sociable bar crawl or a sketching class
  • You're an easy walk from Chiado, a prime shopping area and a notorious hipster training ground. The hotel is also close to the famous Rossio train station, with its beautiful blue and white tiling
  • On Tuesdays or Saturdays, head to the Feria de Lada craft and flea market (9am to 3pm) in the city’s oldest district, Alfama. Then wander the district’s atmospheric alleys and visit the ruined Castelo do São Jorge
  • The city's best museum is the Gulbenkian, a true treasure hoard, with everything from Mesopotamian funerary vases to Persian carpets and a jaw-dropping collection of Lalique glass
  • The other ‘big one’ is 16th-century Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, whose sprawling limestone cloisters and church are fantastically carved. It's a World Heritage Site
  • Lisbon is big on ‘concept stores’ - a trendy term for desirable lifestyle/clothing/accessory things! There's a clutch around the corner in Praça do Principe Real; mostly Portuguese designers, too
  • Spend a day zipping up and down the funiculars to check out the views from different miradouros (viewpoints)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Older teenagers (16+) are welcome and will love The Independente's hip vibe and eclectic decor.

Best for:

Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Deluxe Doubles and Suites can each fit 1 extra bed. If you're travelling with 2 children you'll need 2 rooms.

Kid Friendly:

Location

The Independente Suites is on the western side of the city near the top of Rua São Pedro Alcântara, one of the principal roads that leads up from the river and separates downtown Chiado from the upper Barrio Alto district. It’s on bus and tram routes, near the Gloria Elevator.

By Air:
Fly into Lisbon airport (8km away). There’s an airport shuttle and metro service but the easiest transfer is by taxi; 20 to 25 minutes.

Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.


Airports:

  • Lisbon Portela 8.0 km LIS

Other:

  • Beach 20.0 km
  • Shops 0.2 km
  • Restaurant 0.2 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

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

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