When it came to selecting a hotel in Lisbon, I was somewhat overwhelmed. I had never been before and with the exception of my grandparents who visited Portugal back in the 1970s when life was decidedly different (the country, had, after all recently emerged from life under a dictator who ruled more than 30 years), I didn’t know anyone else who had. Consequently I wasn’t really sure as to which neighborhood would be best to stay in. While the Alfama (home to the former Moorish quarter) seemed the most unique area for lodgings and reminiscent of Seville’s Barrio Santa Cruz, guidebooks mentioned that it wasn’t the safest locale after dark. That is the type of place I would most want to stay away from, even though in my younger years, I did stay in Rome’s ghastly Termini neighborhood. As I was planning on booking a hotel and air package through Expedia since I’d be charged for the hotel portion in United States dollars and not Euros (one of the best things I recommend for American tourists who are looking for ways to beat the exchange rate), the Heritage Avenue Liberade appeared in my results. It had droves of rave reviews on TripAdvisor and from pictures past guests had posted, it looked stunning. Although I am all about staying at Marriotts as a means of accruing as many points as possible, the only Marriott in Lisbon is nowhere near to the city center and did not seem like a preferable choice when already being faced with limited time for sightseeing in a major European capital city. Therefore, I ended up going with the Heritage Avenue Liberade and it proved to be a great pick.
Heritage Avenue Liberade is actually part of a small chain of boutique hotels in Lisbon that are all located in small, historic buildings (another of its hotels, Solar do Castelo is located in the Alfama). The Heritage Avenue Liberade is situated in an 18th century building that has been meticulously restored. Its website notes that “the purpose of the rehabilitation was to keep as many original elements as possible including the 18th century facade, the verandah railings, the shutters with their original ironwork, and lastly, the Pombaline tiles in the interior that were painstakingly restored. When we landed at Lisbon’s airport we immediately left the area to travel to Sintra and had seen nothing of the city. As we made it past the Marquis of Pombal Square and drove along the Avenida Liberade watching out for the hotel, I immediately spotted it from its striking blue facade.
The Avenida da Liberade (Liberty Avenue) is an important thoroughfare in the city and very much reminiscent of Paris’ Champs Elysees. It’s also extremely intimidating from a traffic standpoint as there are a total of 10 lanes of traffic. Thankfully the lanes are divided by pedestrian pavements that are decorated with gardens, so noise from traffic never seemed to permeate the hotel’s walls.
We arrived at the hotel about 1 in the afternoon and thankfully we were able to check right into our room. While we were slightly disappointed over being given a room on the second floor, the loveliness of the room more than made up for it. Unlike many Parisian hotel rooms, ours was extremely spacious, especially the bathroom (three of our bathrooms at the hotel we stayed at in Paris would have fit into our Lisbon bathroom). While the furnishings were modern, the outline of the dramatically tall windows and mini balconies looked like they dated from the hotel’s founding. Housekeeping didn’t come the one day until well into the afternoon (this was during the work week) but the following day our room was made up by the time we returned in the early afternoon.
From a design standpoint, my only critique of the hotel is that the hallways were not illuminated at all save for extremely faint directional fixtures on the floor. It just did not seem to go with the look of the hotel. While we had no problems walking, I can see older people or families with small children perhaps having some issues.
The hotel offers a buffet breakfast although we weren’t quite sure what to make of it. At check-in we were informed about it as well as its cost (17 Euros), a fact that was also mentioned in the hotel room’s guidebook. However, one morning when we went down, fully prepared to be charged for it, we took seats and ate breakfast without ever signing anything. Upon finishing our breakfast, we asked at the front desk (the breakfast is served in the lobby area) if there was anything we needed to sign and the clerk told us no so we went on our way. While some room rates did include breakfast I was fairly certain ours did not, not to mention, no one else present seemed to sign anything either. The hot items were lukewarm (eggs and ham slices) but everything else was to our liking (fresh fruit, cereal, yogurts, cheeses, a variety of rolls and pastries) and an array of hot beverages and juices. Had we been charged for the breakfast I might have left feeling disappointed, but the fact that we partook for free, it was fine.
Although rare for a European city, there is a pool on-site, although it is extremely small, really more of a lap pool than anything else, not necessarily a family swimming spot. Also on site are a couple of workout machines.
The hotel’s staff was extremely helpful and accommodating throughout our entire stay. Two nights we asked for ice that I could apply to my mosquito bites and we were given a bucket full of it. One of the nicest things I thought, though, was that upon check in, you were given a charming postcard that was a map of Lisbon complete with mention of all of the chain’s hotels. If you gave it to the front desk, they would then mail it for you for free.
While I do love my American style hotels (ample size rooms and a bathroom that is not the size of a closet are major plusses for me) and incentives for accruing points, my stay at the Heritage Avenue Liberade was just about perfect and it’s a chain I would definitely want to stay with again on a return tip to the wonderful city of Lisbon.
More in this series!