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A Delightful Long Weekend in Lisbon

With Altis Hotels

by Laurel Waldron

As the mercury drops and a morning chill returns to the autumn air, there’s no better time to decamp south for some delightful, late-season sunshine. Don’t get us wrong, summer is, of course, glorious, but there’s something oh so satisfying that comes from squeezing in a last long weekend of the sun while knowing at home you’d be shivering on a train platform rather than enjoying a languid morning coffee on a sunny terrace.

Lisbon is always a good idea, but with temperatures still tipping the high twenties and the Portuguese capital less than a three-hour flight away, a long weekend there during October seems more satisfying than ever. We spent a few days exploring this delicious city thanks to Altis Hotels; with five properties across Lisbon, from the central business district to the historic downtown and along the coast to Belém, each has its unique personality and vibe.

A delightful city break

Ideally situated uptown to explore Lisbon’s business district, its designer shopping and myriad restaurants, The Altis Grand – an icon of the area since 1973 – was completely refurbished in 2014 and is renowned for its services. 295 deluxe and superior rooms (including 15 suites) are completed with a presidential suite, elegantly designed in a style unique to this property.

Its food and drink offering is home to a slick lobby bar, the D. Fernando Grill with panoramic views of the city, the lighter option of the Rendez View Bistro, the choice of the Herald Bar or S. Jorge Bar for an afternoon tipple and the Garden Roof Bar. On the top floor of the Altis Grand, overlooking the botanical garden, this spot is home to a vertical garden, signature cocktails, an unrivalled gin menu and a resident DJ – our choice spot to unwind after a long day.

With remote working still very much in action, the Business Lounge at the Altis Grand – open daily from 7-11.30 pm – is a secret weapon, with computers and printers available for guests, a selection of newspapers and magazines and complimentary pastries and coffee. Throw in the Spa with a swimming pool, sauna, hammers, gym and treatment rooms and the Altis Grand is the choice for business travel; it’s far enough from the main tourist bustle of the main centre to be quiet but just a short walk to the action.

Speaking of which, the second residence in the family, as the name would suggest, is at home within the bustle of Lisbon’s tourist centre. The Hotel Altis Avenida sits just at the bottom of the Avenida da Liberdada, looking across the Plaça dos Restauradores.

A boutique hotel with an extraordinary location in the city centre, its architecture and decor are inspired by the 1940s and with just 118 rooms it may be boutique compared to its sister, but it packs a dignified punch. The lobby is full of soft peach velvet tub chairs, dark marble side tables, brass accents and plenty of foliage; it’s at once elegantly retro and a tad millennial. It’s what Oliver Bonas’ interiors yearn to be. Upstairs, our room was set out with a painfully chic black and gold desk with accompanying retro Marshall radio – brownie points for the aforementioned remote working.

While it may not have the pool and spa (a fitness room is available if you’re so inclined), the Altis Avenida is home to a sun terrace open to guests as well as the spectacular Rossio Gastrobar. Booking a table for lunch at this gem was one of our best moves. The spot occupies the 7th floor with views across the city and its ambitious, seasonal menu is a stunning showcase of Portuguese cuisine.

We tucked into dishes including cured fresh mackerel with apple purée and cherry liqueur vinegar, grilled Azores amberjack belly with lime oil and garlic, and Alentejo black pork with a foie gras sauce. Stunning dishes, of course, washed down with plenty of vinho verde in the sunshine. It’s a hard life, eh?

This spot is perfectly located for all that central Lisbon has to offer, being less than a 10-minute walk from the banks of the River Tragus and its plentiful bars, the iconic Plaça do Comercio and Belcanto, Portugal’s best restaurant according to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list announced in July.

Of course, while it’s possible to spend a few days in Lisbon within the city centre, it would be remiss not to head a short way down the coast to the historical town of Belém. Not just because it’s home to the best pasteis de nata you will ever taste, warm from the ovens of Pasteis de Belém (though be prepared for a queue at all hours of the day…) but also because it’s home to the final location in our trinity, Altis Belém Hotel & Spa.

This five-star property might just be our favourite of the three. Overlooking the Belém marina on the banks of the Tragus, this spot is worth the journey. It’s easy to see why it won Portugal’s Leading Design Hotel two years in a row, as well as Europe’s Leading Design Hotel 2016 at the World Travel Awards.

The all-white property is drenched in sunlight, with 50 luxury rooms – including five suites – each inspired by an exotic location; from Mauritania and India through to Osaka and Brazil, each room encompasses the prints, colours and textures of its namesake, giving each a bespoke look rather than a cookie cutter. The intrigue to peek behind every open door as housekeeping do their rounds is real…

The award-winning Spa by global skincare guru Karin Herzog offers a heated indoor pool, sauna, Turkish bath, gym, Vichy shower rooms, treatments and therapies, a river view terrace with panoramic outdoor pool, lounge area and à la carte service from the 38º41´Gastrobar. In stark contrast to the, shall we say, family-friendly pool of the Altis Grand, this is a space dedicated to relaxation and we certainly made the most of it.

While Belém itself is home to a gorgeous array of independent local eateries (we had some spectacular squid for just a few euros in a cosy dining room off the main street), the hotel’s one Michelin-star Restaurant Feitoria shouldn’t be overlooked. Head Chef João Rodrigues takes traditional Portuguese gastronomy and blends it with the more exotic cuisines of the world; it’s worth a visit if you can secure a table.

This trio of properties is perfectly situated to explore what is a fascinating city. With some of Europe’s most creative gastronomy, a buzzing live music scene and the sun still shining brightly, there’s no better time for a late-season getaway to Lisbon.

For more information on Altis Hotels or to book visit their website online.

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