The Location: Sited along the exterior wall of Castelo Sao Jorge (former Moorish castle), and located in one of the most traditional and vibrant Portuguese neighbourhoods in Lisboa; Solar do Castelo is about as ideal a location as you'll find in Lisboa. Its mix of romantic 17th century style and modern conveniences make it an ideal hotel for couples. The location is not well known by all Taxi drivers departing the Airport, so be sure to refer them to the Castelo Sao Jorge (which they will know). Taxi trip from the Airport was approximately 26 Euro at 08h00 on a weekend morning, but our return trip to the airport at 05h00 on a weekend was only 12 Euro. The area of the Castelo is flooded by tourists by 10h00 each morning, so I'd recommend getting your tickets to the Castelo (and you should see it) as soon as the ticket office opens at 09h00.
I noted below in the room recommendations that you're likely to hear some groundskeeping noise from the Castelo Sao Jorge every other morning or so. The hot topic on this board appears to be the Peacocks, so I'll comment on that too. Yes, you hear them. They start yelling at about sunrise, but it dissipates quickly. The peacocks live in the Castelo Sao Jorge, not the hotel, so they're not exactly in your hotel room with you ...although we did have one hang-out with us on the balcony. We loved the peacocks, and unless you're an extremely sensitive sleeper, they shouldn't deter you from staying at this hotel.
The Alfama District of Lisboa is within easy walking distance (you're seeing traditional restaurants and cafes within your first 5 minutes of walking. I will say that this location is best suited to moderately fit individuals. The cobblestone streets are uneven and would not be well suited to those with poor balance or physical disabilities. My girlfriend and I are very active, but even we were commenting on the soreness of our calves as we walked the 1km from the lively shopping district of Bairro Alto (lowertown) back uphill to our room at the end of a day touring. You can't avoid the hills, so you'll need to embrace them or look elsewhere in Lisboa. We visited all the major tourist destinations during day trips within Portugal, but if you like to immerse yourself in the local culture - you can do no better than spending your entire vacation in Alfama District. The locals are warm, and the food is fantastic. We had the fortune of visiting in June, during Festa dos Santos Populares (Popular Saints Festival) and stumbled upon the Alfama Bazaar (at the square beside the Sao Miguel Church) and learned that every weekend night in June is like an outdoor music and food festival for the locals. We only bumped into one or two Westerners there, but we ate, sang and danced with the locals. Different quarters of the bazaar showcase Fado (traditional music and singing, which seemed much more raw and passionate in this forum than in one of the tourist hungry Fado restaurants in town), Portuguese dance, and even some techno for the young folks. I Can't believe I didn't see this event or area listed in my guidebooks (Frommer's, Lonely Planet, Rough Guides... feel free to steal this and include it in your write-ups!).
I'm not an expert on the crime levels in Portugal, but I've been to some very sketchy countries during my travels and by comparison, I felt extremely safe in Lisboa (particularly the Castelo/Alfama areas). in Alfama, you see young kids out in the streets playing and churches seem to hold mass at all hours of the day... which is very reassuring to a cautious traveler.
Room: All rooms will seem small to North American travelers, but not to the Europeans amongst you. The walls of the room do an acceptable job of keeping noise from adjoining rooms out, but you will hear footsteps and the odd chair scraping the floor. I suspect that if you had particularly noisy neighbours, it would bother you. The great thing about this hotel is that it caters to mature clientele. Rooms that face the courtyard will have balconies with French doors.
Food: A fantastic free breakfast buffet is provided. It includes hot plates of bacon and eggs as well as cold cut meats, a great selection of fresh breads, smoked salmon and sardines, various cereals, crepes, and fresh juices and sparkling wine for those who wish to 'make your own mimosas'. There's no table service, but the breakfast hours run from 07h30 to noon. Try finding those hours for any other free breakfast at one of the major hotel chains. In your room, you'll find a decanter of free Port which is freshened daily.
Service: The front desk staff speak no less than four languages each (certainly English, French, German, and Portuguese) and they are very happy to help with taxi bookings, dining suggestions, sight-seeing recommendations, and a city orientation. Tourist maps are provided by the front desk upon check-in. We had an early check-out and were going to miss breakfast, but the front desk staff arranged for a plate of sandwiches to be placed aside for us prior to departure.
I honestly don't have anything negative to say about Solar do Castelo. I would absolutely stay there again, and I'd challenge you to find a better hotel in the vicinity of Alfama.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Solar Do Castelo is truly a Romantic Boutique hotel in the historic center of Lisbon. The only hotel within St. George's Castle walls, at the top of Alfama, Solar Do Castelo is a small Mansion built on the site of the former Alcaçova Palace. With two floors and a mansard, an inner courtyard and garden, most part of the furniture was specially designed for the hotel in a Medieval Contemporary style. You will find welcoming rooms offering complete modern day comfort. ... more less
- Reservation Options:
- TripAdvisor is proud to partner with Hotels.com, Ebookers, TripOnline SA, Booking.com, Agoda, Lastminute, Odigeo, LoveHolidays, Priceline, TravelUp, Traveltool, S.L.U., Evoline ltd, Cancelon and HotelQuickly so you can book your Solar Do Castelo reservations with confidence. We help millions of travellers each month to find the perfect hotel for both holiday and business trips, always with the best discounts and special offers.
- Also Known As:
- Solar Do Castelo Lisbon
- Solar Do Castelo Hotel Lisbon