I was booked into the Barrio Alto Hotel for a 2 night stay for work. We turned up and was greeted by the courteous doorman and a porter who promptly took my bag to the side. The check-in staff were polite, efficient and got us quickly up to my room (102). First impressions were good, and it was only when I was going up to my room that I noticed this was a 5 star hotel. Swanky.
Surprisingly, I was given a key (not a keycard) to the room and it took me a second to get used to it as the lock settles horizontally rather than vertically, but upon opening the door I was greeted with a very plush room. Great lighting and understated, quality decor, wooden floors, high hanging curtains opening out to a small balcony & a clean medium sized bathroom. Just looking around you can tell money was spent on the furnishings, and no corners cut in the process.
It's the little touches from a 5 star hotel that really shine out from the usual accomodation I stay in. A turn-down service at 6pm, a bottle of wine gifted on the 1st night, and the famous Portugeuse custard tarts on the 2nd. Robe and complimentary slippers, and a dental and bathroom kit on request. In short, without having a bell and butler at your beck and call, the stay is incredibly comfortable. It's a fantastic destination if you want a bit of luxury on your holiday. The bar downstairs was nice enough ( but apparently not a patch on the roof bar, which unfortunately I didn't get to), a bit cave-like in the back and not as atmospheric as it could be, but the breakfast was lovely with a good selection of fruit, cheese, bread and scrambled eggs and sausages.
If there was only one thing I could mention, is that the shower pressure is a bit on the low side, and the limited range of movement rom the head meant you basically had to stand over the plug hole.
So why only 4 stars? My best comparison 5 star hotel-wise is the Mandarin Oriental in Kuala Lumpur, which is extremely impressive in terms of elegance, style and the facilities on offer. Even the breakfast selection is awe-inspiring. Bairro Alto certainly equals it in terms of service and looks, however in terms of value it slightly falls short of the mark. I completely understand that its a boutique, city centre hotel, but IMHO if you are competing against 5 star chain hotels you have to have point of difference that counterbalances what they offer. The Mandarin in KL has impressive views, all the modern amenities, amazing food and location for around the same price as the Bairro Alto. That's not at all a besmirch on the Bairro - it's a lovely, elegant hotel that, if you can afford it, will make your trip a memorable one.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in the fashionable Bairro Alto district, the traditional heartland of intellectuals, artists and revolutionaries, Bairro Alto Hotel is Lisbon's first contemporary boutique hotel.Capturing the indomitable spirit of exploration that pervades Lisbon, a city long associated with explorers, traders and settlers, Bairro Alto Hotel both embraces the Portuguese architectural tradition, while respectively turning it on its head. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Bairro Alto
- Bairro Alto Lisbon