Among the many commendations, this handsome former mansion block has been mentioned in the prestigious Condé Nast Traveler Gold List and voted as "Best Small Hotel Europe" in the International Hotel Awards and as "Portugal’s Leading Boutique Hotel’ in the World Travel Awards.
Actually, the location alone is a prizewinner. The property, a city-break favourite, looms large over Praça Luís de Camões, one of the Portuguese capital’s most picturesque squares. And despite its name, the Hotel actually stands in the gilt-edged Chiado district, though the racy, boho Bairro Alto quarter is just a short amble up the hill.
The Bairro Alto Hotel on Praca Luis de Camoes — Photo courtesy of Bairo Alto Hotel
Step inside, and you’re reminded of late 18th-century Portuguese design hallmarks, features such as wall-to-wall dark wood flooring, decorated marble flourishes and plump velvet and leather furnishings. This classical expression melds easily with the contemporary materials sourced from the trendy ateliers of France, Italy, Morocco and the United Kingdom.
This pairing of the elegantly refined with abstract modernity is maintained throughout, and is especially evident in the rooms.
Bairro Alto Hotel has 55 rooms (including four suites) that fall within six different categories, with views over the aforementioned square, Rua das Flores ("Road of Flowers") and Rua do Alecrim ("Rosemary Road"), depending on preference. While all are thoroughly soundproofed, light sleepers will probably find those overlooking Rua das Flores better suited to their needs.
Needless to say, each befits the hotel’s five-star status and features, among other amenities, state of the art sound and vision options and Miller Harris bath and body fragrances. Wi-Fi is available upon request.
One of the special treats afforded guests and visitors is the BA Terrace. This chic little rooftop eyrie is one of Lisbon’s hidden secrets – an outside bar affording a fabulous panorama that unfolds over the terracotta rooftops of the City’s Baixa (downtown) district to meet the River Tagus and the South Bank beyond.
Lunch, dinner and a picnic selection of tasty snacks are served here. But here’s a tip: the best time to view this beautiful canvas is while sinking a sundowner, as the last vestiges of the day vanish beyond the ocean that's sparkling in the distance.
For a more down-to-earth experience, saunter into BA Café-Bar on the ground floor. This cosmopolitan cubbyhole is a favourite late afternoon haunt, a place where busy professionals tend to congregate over gossip and long drinks after an exacting day at the office. Live music, the program of which changes nightly, provides a mellow soundtrack. This is also a handy spot to gather before heading off to one of the many restaurants that flavor Bairro Alto and Chiado.
Actually, the hotel has pretty good culinary form itself, in the shape of the Flores do Bairro restaurant.
Here’s a place that works on several levels. During the day, it's bright, breezy interior lures an appreciate lunch crowd, when nourishing and inventive fill-me-ups grace the menu.
But the eatery comes into its own after dark, when candlelight flickers and a romantic air descends over the proceedings. This is when Executive Chef Vasco Lello’s menu is brought to the fore. His is a seasonal mindset, so expect light, fragrant gastronomy during the summer months, prepped and served with fingertip dexterity.
With the advent of autumn and winter, flavors become earthier and richer. Even his soups take on a different complexion: try the crème de castanhas com erva-doce e cebolinho (horse chestnut soup with Welsh onion, seasoned with sweet herbs). The cuisine is hearty and deliciously refined and plated up straight out of a genuine "bairro" kitchen.