A year ago, I had never traveled to Lisbon, now I am making my third trip in the last three months. On previous visits, I opted to stay in the more central, historic areas of Lisbon, like Alfama, Rossio, and Avenida de Liberdade as they were base camps essentially for exploring the city.
The Memmo Alfama is still one of my favorite hotels in Lisbon and a can’t miss experience, but I wanted to branch out and try something new- a hotel in a different area of Lisbon and with a more lively, modern feel.
Arriving at the Altis Belem Hotel after a short drive along the river front, there is no doubt that you are in the presence of a uniquely, special place. Positioned just off the riverside promenade and adjacent to a small marina, the Altis Belem’s modern architecture celebrates a natural connection to the surrounding open spaces and water.
Designed by RISCO Architects, the building is the result of two intersecting perpendicular volumes. The natural material selection allows it to blend with its surrounding and not obstruct from the water or its adjacent buildings. The building allows the natural light to permeate and penetrate the volumes making it feel open, ample and comfortable. The long, clean lines allows opportunities to integrate vistas to the water and bring the exterior inside.
The Altis Belem Hotel is the very definition of what I consider lux-mod- modern architecture utilizing natural materials, an abundance of natural light with a feeling of being connected to the outdoors, simple and stylish-but comfortable furnishings, boutique in size, just lux enough (but not over the top), with an amazing restaurant or bar on site, and of course within walking distance to other amenities.
After a pleasantly quick check in from the friendly front desk staff, I was given a tour of the hotel and guided to my room- the Etiopia. The hotel contains themes that span various destinations throughout the world and depict a unique story through the panels installed in each of the rooms. Upon opening the door, natural light flooded the room and welcomed me into a larger then normal space with large king size bed, desk, and decent sized living room-like area- all over looking out over the marina through an entire wall of glass.
With limited time, a hungry belly, and the sun setting on a beautiful day, I opted to eat at the Bar 38º41’ located within the hotel. I sat outside on the edge of the large terrace overlooking the Tagus River and enjoyed exploring their lengthy list of trendy cocktails while watching a mixture of fitness enthusiasts and hipsters stroll along the riverside promenade.
If you are a runner or walker, bring along your athletic shoes as you have access to a large, paved flat path that runs along the Tagus river from Praça do Comércio – Lisbon’s most iconic square – to the monument- and museum-filled district of Belém. As the Altis Belem is located right off the path, you have easy access to a great place to run.
The tomato buffalo mozzarella salad and tuna burger were outstanding and they were a perfect pairing, thanks to the suggestion of my waitress, with their famously fresh mojito.
For those that have more time, I highly suggest starting with a cocktail (or two) on the terrace of Bar 38º41’ at sunset and then transitioning to the Feitoria Restaurant & Wine Bar, a one star Michelin restaurant located within the Altis Belem and steps away from the outside terrace and bar.
Even though I love this hotel, for it to be (almost) perfect the Altis Belem could do a better job of providing convenient electrical outlets in the rooms- this is a fault of many boutique hotels in Europe and throughout the world that were designed to look good, but not necessarily be convenient for those of us who carry an assortment of gadgets that need to be charged.
In the Etiopia room, there were no outlets visible near the bedside and only one outlet at the desk, but not easily visible (it was underneath the desk table top). This meant that I had devices plugged in around the room (instead of a central location) and for travelers wanting to use their laptop from their bed (including me), they would need a very long power cord and even then it might be difficult. For a hotel that pays attention to so many details, the lack of convenient power outlets is surprising and really one of the only complaints I have.
Generally I found my room at the Altis Belem to feel secluded and quiet, but because the hotel is located in an urban area, it does comes with the typical transportation noise, especially the frequent train. I’m not sure how often a train passed the hotel, but I am positive that I heard each one of them. I guess this is to be expected when you stay in the middle of the city, but the train noise was definitely noticeable.
Lack of convenient power outlets and noisy trains aside, the Altis Belem is a can’t miss hotel located in one of my soon-to-be-favorite European cities.