Previous reviews give a good idea of the hotel, its location and accessibility. We enjoyed our two-week stay and would recommend it as a base to explore Lisbon. If you enjoy sightseeing, Lisbon and its environs have lots of places — and if it rains, lots of museums — to visit. We also enjoyed the pastries, which were cheap, tasty and sold in numerous cafes and bars.
All the staff we encountered at hotel reception were pleasant, helpful, cooperative and spoke good English. We did not use the hotel restaurant or business center (charge for use of its facilities, but otherwise free WiFi which worked well), so cannot comment on these. The hotel reminded us of the Ibis chain, and some Japanese business hotels, as far as modernity, simplicity, practicality, decor and cleanliness.
Rooms were rather compact and distributed over seven upper floors (above the ground floor) on either side of two lifts-elevators which faced one another (six rooms to one side and four on the other). Quieter rooms were at the back of the hotel. These looked at apartment buildings but also with a view over houses sweeping up in the distance to a church on a hill (a previous reviewer included a photo). Rooms at the front of the hotel faced the road (which was a main traffic artery), and the sports courts and approach to the buildings of the Instituto Superior Tecnico across the street. The Instituto has some sort of mechanical plant which makes a continuous whooshing sound; however, with the double-glazed window (or sliding door, as the 7th-floor rooms have access to a balcony) closed, we could hardly hear that or traffic noises. Since the front of the hotel also faces the direction of the airport in the distance, we occasionally heard an aircraft take off or land, but we did not find this bothersome.
Rooms which did not have an entry passage had a larger bathroom which included a bathtub-shower and a bidet (as well as the usual toilet, washbasin, etc.). Rooms with an entryway had a smaller bathroom which did not have a bidet and had just a shower stall with sliding doors which allowed entry and exit via the corner opening. (If you are a broad person, you might find the opening a bit narrow.) The shower stall did not have a shelf or rack on which to put a shampoo bottle or soap (solid or liquid bodywash — both provided by the hotel). The drain plug in the washbasin toggled, that is, you pushed it down against the spring to close it and pressed it down again to open it. We suggest that you remove collected hairs from the drain of the shower stall; otherwise, the water can back up in the pan. During our stay, the hot water system and the free WiFi to the room worked without problem.
We found the beds and pillows comfortable. Two extra pillows were in the closet, which was small and not full-height for hanging coats and the like because of an upper shelf, a lower shelf with the room safe on it, and a drawer below. In some rooms the desk area did not have a light above, lamp or power outlets nearby. The power outlets were above and below a long glass shelf attached to the wall opposite the end of the bed (an arrangement we found impractical for doing work). With the chair pulled out from under the desk, no room remained for someone to pass it and the end of the bed. In some other rooms the desk area had two power outlets in the wall.
The rooms we used had an electric kettle with herbal teas (quite tasteless), sugar and artificial sweetener provided by the hotel. A (very) small bar refrigerator was under the counter. The beverages and snack foods supplied were expensive and not of interest to us, so on checking in or changing rooms we had the staff remove them so that we could use the fridge. It had a thermostat at the back and a very small ice tray at the very top of the interior. If you wanted to refrigerate something tall (taller than a one-liter carton), you could slide out the plastic shelf (and replace it later). Housekeeping was very good, and each night we returned from sightseeing to an immaculate room with some lights on when we inserted the key card into the slot to turn on the electricity to the room.
The air conditioning allowed only off or on heating, even though the thermostat had features for controlling the fan, temperature and type of air conditioning (heating or cooling). Apparently, the system was set for heating only in winter (and probably cooling only in summer). We could have accepted this system if we could have used fan only to circulate air in the room. It seemed that the system would not allow fan only, so we opened the balcony door to make the room more comfortable — hence, if you are sensitive to noise and prefer an open window or balcony door, we suggest that you request a room at the back of the hotel, that is, facing away from the front street.
Internal soundproofing of the room was typical for most hotels that we have stayed at. The rooms had parquet floors, so you could occasionally hear someone walking around and a chair being moved. We could hear other guests and cleaners talking when they were in the lift-elevator area, also slamming doors and other movement. We were fortunate to visit in low season (winter) and to encounter cooperative staff. We explained that we would stay for the remainder of a two-week stay, awoke late in the morning, and returned late from a day of sightseeing and dinner. At our request we moved from the third to the seventh floor and asked that housekeeping clean our floor last.
We found the location of the hotel convenient. The 22 bus from the airport (E1.45 fare payable on boarding) stops across the street and about 100 feet down from the hotel (look for the sign HOTEL to the left on the side of the building).
Ask at airport information for location of the 22 bus stop as you will have to walk a few hundred feet to an airport access road. Also at the airport information counter, you can get a free public transport map of Lisbon (Rede de Trasportes Publicos). Note that, on some of the free maps of the city distributed by the tour companies, the metro routes are incomplete and departure terminals for some of the ferry routes are wrong.
The bus driver accepted cash; the bus had two shelves for luggage the size of overhead cabin bags. The bus back to the airport left from a bus shelter down the slope from the hotel and in front of the park in front of the Instituto. On our way to the airport, another passenger told us when to disembark and indicated where should go.
By bus, the trip from the hotel back to the airport took about 15-20 minutes — this in morning, peak-hour traffic with stops to pick-up and drop-off other passengers. If you might be interested in the route the 22 bus would take from the airport to the hotel, it should go Alameda das Comunidades Portuguesas, pass through Praca do Aeroporto, down Avenida Almirante Gago Coutinho to Praca Francisco Sa Carneiro, turn right at Avenida Joao XXI, left on Avenida de Roma, past Praca de Londres to Avenida Manuel da Maia, pass the Instituto Superior Tecnico (with two, large, dark, forbidding, smoked-glass cubes flanking a much lower central building, all on the right, and a grass park sloping down and then up in the distance on the left) to Avenida Rovisco Pais.
A caution about taxis from the airport. Lonely Planet mentions "Rip-offs occasionally occur (the airport route is the main culprit)." It continues to tell you how to lodge a complaint; however, it seems more trouble that it is worth given the few euros involved. Despite knowing about the bus, on arrival we decided to take a taxi — for convenience and plain laziness. I had mapped out the route to the hotel, and it was quite simple and direct along main avenues. Also, our arrival coincided with a public holiday, so traffic was light. I even gave the driver a marked map, which he preferred to ignore (not a good sign). He chose to take a circuitous route to the hotel using expressways. The total fare, including flag fall, luggage charge and (imposed) tip came to E15, which we found tolerable. The trip from airport to hotel was not very far, so we guessed that the driver had to make it worthwhile to lose his place in the taxi queue at the airport.
Should you have a car, you can find free parking in the streets surrounding the hotel; however, availability will depend on the day and time of day because of all the medium-rise residential buildings in the area. Near the entrance to Alameda metro station is a ramp which leads to an underground, pay parking station.
The hotel was conveniently situated a 5-10 minute walk to Alameda station at the intersection of the green line, which will take you into the city center, about 5-10 minutes away, and the red line. To get to Alameda station, turn right when leaving the hotel, go down the slope and follow Alameda Dom Alfonso Henriques and the park, both in front of the Instituto. The entrance steps to the station are at the intersection with the main street, Avenida Almirante Reis, at the bottom of the slope.
For anyone interested in upmarket women's clothing near the hotel, walk along Avenida Gueira Junqueiro. This street goes off at an angle from Alameda Dom Alfonso Henriques and is just before you reach Alameda metro station.
If you walk left on leaving the hotel entrance, along Avenida Rovisco Pais which becomes Avenida Duque de Avila, you can go to Saldanha metro station at the intersection of the red and yellow lines. Saldanha station is roughly the same distance as that to Alameda station but involves less steep walking to and from the hotel. We used Alameda station most of the time, as its route brings you to the main tourist areas and other train stations for excursions out of Lisbon.
If you would like to avoid the walk up the incline from Alameda station to the hotel, you can change at Alameda station from the green line to the red line, alight at Saldanha and walk to the hotel along Avenida Duque de Avila and then Avenida Rovisco Pais. During our visit to Lisbon, we used the metro every day.
At touch-screen ticket vending machines, you can buy a green card which you keep and recharge for trips on urban trains, buses, trams and ferries. Screens usually let you choose instructions in English. The machines give change. Note that you will need to validate your card when using a station — even if it does not have a barrier — and you will need it to exit. We saw lots of ticket inspectors regularly working through trains, so ensure that you have a valid card when you use the public transport system.
With the room having an electric kettle (to make our morning coffee) and a fridge (for storing fruit juice and milk), we found the following supermarkets useful. If you get off the metro at Arroios station, one stop before Alameda, and walk back about 100 feet, you can find a "Pingo Doce", a local supermarket chain, at 126C Avenida Almirante Reis. It is not very large, but should provide you with what you want. You can then walk up Avenida Almirante Reis towards Alameda station, cross over, and continue up the slope towards the Instituto and to the hotel.
Alternatively, you if you alight at Saldanha station and walk along Avenida Duque de Avila towards the hotel, you will come across another Pingo Doce on your right. Past the Pingo Doce, if you turn right at the intersection with Rua Dona Estefanea and walk about 75 feet to 195B, you will find "Minipreco", another small supermarket.
There are not many restaurants in the vicinity of the hotel, since the hotel is in a residential-light commercial area. If you would like to dine at a good restaurant nearby, try the "Cafe Imperio" at the corner of Alameda Dom Alfonso Henriques and Avenida Almirante Reis. We dined there twice and enjoyed the food, service and atmosphere. Prices were reasonable, the food tasty and service attentive. From the other clientele, we discerned that the place was popular with Lisboans; we seemed the only tourists there during our visits. Some of the waiters spoke English. The restaurant was open every day (except Christmas and New Year's Eve) till midnight, and till 1 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. You can find the entrance on Avenida Almirante Reis, on the lower level underneath the Igeja do Reino de Deus which is in what was a large, old cinema; you can hardly miss it across the park area from the entrance to Alameda metro station. On the other side of Avenida Almirante Reis and a few hundred feet towards Arroios station, there is a restaurant specializing in fish dishes.
From Oriente station (the east end of the red line) and the Vasco da Gama mall opposite (which has a large Continente supermarket), you can walk to the Lisbon Casino. It has a E15 buffet on the top floor, starting at 7:45 p.m. We thought the choice good but the food rather bland.
In the middle of Lisbon, at the side of the Elevador of Rua Santa Justa, there was a Chinese buffet (E7.95 for lunch, E8.95 for dinner). The choice was a bit limited, but you could select fresh meats and vegetables and have them cooked in a wok with your choice of sauce. Of course, there were lots of other restaurants in the touristy parts of the city, lots serving fish dishes.
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