Lisbon’s mix of new and old, fab foodie scene, craft culture and incredible new aquarium, all within a manageable territory, make the city an excellent European family city break. With that in mind, Luxury Travel Advisor checked in to the recently upgraded Corinthia Lisbon, a tween and grandma in tow, to investigate the Portuguese capital.
The five-star Corinthia Lisbon has completed the first phase of a $17.6 million guest bedroom and suite makeover that will see all its 518 rooms redone by the end of 2019. The former Superior Rooms have been rebranded to Deluxe Rooms, and the former Junior Suites are now Deluxe Junior Suites. We stayed in Room No. 524, a Deluxe Junior Suite, which has lovely city views and partial views of the Monsanto Natural Park. The hotel is a tower and the other side overlooks the city’s 18th-century Águas Livres Aqueduct (aka Aqueduct of the Free Waters). Our room was spacious, nearly 490 square feet, and well laid out, with the bed facing floor-to-ceiling windows. There was a seating area with a table, sofa and chair, a coffeemaker / bar nook, ample closet space and a large bathroom with a walk-in rain shower and separate tub. As there were three of us, they had made the King bed into two singles and had a rollaway for my son — all very comfortable. Décor is soothing grays and beiges with cheerful contrasting blue headboards and accents based on designs by London-based interiors firm, Goddard Littlefair.
Acqua Therapy Facilities at the Spa at Corinthia Lisbon include a pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam bath, bucket shower, cold plunge, ice fountain and Cooling Walk.
What we loved: Both European and U.S. outlets and USB ports are located next to the bed and incorporated into tables in the suites. Also high on our list were the ESPA toiletries and the thoughtful turn-down amenities — sachets of lavender and different Portuguese sweets. Suite guests have access to the Executive Club on the top floor of the hotel. It has panoramic views (Fun Fact: The hotel is the 17th-tallest building in the city) and three different food services throughout the day, including breakfast with made-to-order eggs and pancakes, plus an ample buffet.
About half of the new rooms are done, with the rest scheduled for completion before the end of this year; these include 24 Executive Suites, the Ambassador Suite and the Presidential Suite. Top Tip: When booking, ask which floors are being redone to avoid noise; we were on the fifth floor, which was totally quiet and would not have even sensed the hotel was in the midst of a refurb. The best contact for luxury travel advisors is Susana Martins ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing.
THE Belém Tower, located in the civil parish of Santa Maria de Belém, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site along with the nearby Jerónimos Monastery.
Hot on the heels of Kerridge’s Bar & Grill opening in Corinthia’s flagship London hotel to tremendous buzz, Corinthia has also upped its food and beverage game in Lisbon with authentic yet innovative Portuguese cuisine in the new restaurant, Erva. Led by the skillful Chef Carlos Goncalves, the restaurant itself has an earthy feel with a scattering of living walls, herb pots amid leather vintage-style chairs and rustic wood dining tables. All the produce and meat served at the restaurant is locally sourced. Chef Carlos creates his menus around the seasons, and truly has a deft palate, unafraid to mix in Asian and Middle Eastern spices with traditional Portuguese fare, yielding spectacular results. The Asian-style fried cod is hands-down one of the best fish dishes we’ve ever eaten. He also caters to vegans with local, seasonal veggies. The caramelized eggplant was unreal, but the biggest surprise was the strawberry, avocado and coconut dessert; it was so light and refreshing, we practically floated back to our room. Erva complements the hotel’s other new area, the Soul Garden, a large (32,000 square feet) terrace at the back of the hotel that gets lively on Wednesdays and at weekends with DJ sets.
The National Coach Museum has a collection of ornate, historical horse carriages.
At nearly 38,000 square feet, the Spa at the Corinthia Lisbon is the second largest in Europe (the Corinthia London is the largest), featuring 13 treatment rooms, a cutting-edge gym with a full roster of classes (HIIT, Pilates, yoga, etc.), a heated indoor swimming pool, a Hammam plus Acqua Therapy, and a combination of warming and cooling water stations combined with sauna and steam. The spa offers an extensive list of treatments — the signature is the Portuguese Journey, a full body scrub using a local sea salt followed by deep moisturizing with local oils, though we were more intrigued by the Detox Body Cocoon, an oil-based treatment for body and scalp — a rebirth of sorts. Even kids can chillax in the spa. There’s a complete menu of treatments for children ages four to 12; with everything from massages to mani-pedis, the Corinthia pampers it’s littlest guests as well. Bookings are essential; one to weeks out is fine. For more information, contact Spa Director Claudia Santos ([email protected]).
The Jerónimos Monastery is a former monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome in the parish of Belém. It houses the Maritime Museum and the National Archaeology Museum.
Lisbon To-Do List
There is loads to do for kids and grandparents, the only caveat is that it is hilly; streets are steep and cobblestoned (think San Francisco with worse paving). Lisbon has several distinct neighborhoods, and the city is easy to navigate on foot, by transport, or our preferred method, by Ubers, which we found to be clean and plentiful, and all our drivers were friendly and fluent in English. The Corinthia has an Insider program with excellent “locals” tips; our favorites:
Musts: Belém neighborhood to see the Belém Tower and Jerónimos Monastery and sample the original pastel de natas pastry at Pasteis de Belem; nearby, and great for kids, is the National Coach Museum, which has a jaw-dropping collection of ornate, historical horse carriages; then, hop on a boat tour or tram car from Belém to explore the neighborhoods of Chiado, Bairro Alto and Alfama. On the other end of the city, we loved the Oceanário de Lisboa, an incredibly engaging aquarium with a strong focus on conservation. It was named the “World’s Best Aquarium” by TripAdvisor in 2018 and we whole-heartedly agree (it’s on par with the amazing Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta). Not far away and unique to Portugal, in a former convent, is the National Tile Museum, which gives a brief history of the colorful tiles you see everywhere in Lisbon.
Fun and food along the way: LX Factory has more than 50 hip boutiques, restaurants and coffee bars in a former industrial zone beneath the Ponte 25 de Abril suspension bridge. To sample the best of the city’s eateries head to the always-packed Time Out Market food hall, “curated” by the local editors and located in the Mercado da Ribeira. The concept is successful and Time Out is opening similar markets in Miami, New York, Boston, London and Prague. For an amazing view and delicious food with an Indian flair, have lunch on the terrace at the charming Lost In, tucked on a side street in the busy Principe Real area. Looking for top dinner spots? Order cod three ways at as Salgadeiras, a traditional spot in Bairro Alto with fab service; for more trendy, hit O Bairro do Avillez for tapas by famed local chef Jose Avillez.