138 Liberdade Hotel
I adore Lisbon. It's no secret. It's a place I've travelled to ample times in the past couple of years, with my first visit being when I was 19. Lisbon has much to offer from local history, artwork, restaurants, culture and Pastéis De Nata (yes, they are just as essential for any good trip). If it's your first trip to Lisbon, you can easily pack a short break with its rich culture and well-known sites. For those coming for the first time, I'd recommend taking a trip at the beginning of May or the beginning of September before and after the high season, when the city is at its busiest and hottest. You're going to want to visit the obvious, including the old town Alfama (a TukTuk is a great way to get around and see all the sights), the main square, Castelo de S. Jorge, Praça de Comércio, Padrão dos Descobrimentos and of course the trams. The list goes on (see our trip last year).
Arriving at 138 Liberdade Hotel in Lisbon mid-morning, we are greeted at the door with our luggage quickly scooped away and taken to our room. The boutique is sleek with black marbled floors, seating and a restaurant leading to a sweet beautifully designed garden, perfect to dine in, never mind the weather. Greeted at the door, check. A hot washcloth, also check. It's the welcome of all welcomes. We are taken on a tour of the boutique hotel, starting with their eclectic restaurant, known for its food and Sushi, and the lobby before taking our stance in the lift to travel to the 7th floor, where our room for both nights is situated.
The rooms are large for Lisbon, kitted out with the latest technology, the softest bedding and a view over one of Lisbon's central promenades. Like the bedroom, the sleek black stone bathroom is significant and bigger than my London flats bathroom. It's all in the details at the 138 Liberdade Hotel – managed by Amazing Evolution –, from the incredible fresh fruit platter on arrival to your room to the bathroom amenities, cosy robes and slippers, toothbrushes and vanity kits, all with the environment in mind. It's details like this that often you don't see anymore.
We unpack and head to the restaurant for a light lunch. Other than the staff giving a tour around the restaurant, we're made aware of the food at the boutique, with its Sushi making a name for itself. As someone who has had specific dietary requirements the past year, eating out often comes hand in hand with a lot of anxiety, in fear of becoming unwell and having to miss most of the trips. This, however, is fine at 138 Liberdade Hotel. With the hotel staff and chef having prepped and been interested in my intolerances and allergies, the hotel is clued up more than most. They have a range of options from their menu that they can tell me they will adapt for me throughout the trip, meaning I have a hub where I know I can eat. Starving on holiday due to the lack of food is rough; trust me, I've had to do it. But the extra effort and detail had me at day dot. I often feel awkward having to ask or make a fuss, unlike 138, where no question or query was much too much to ask. Once catered for, we start our afternoon with our first of many trips to find Pastéis de Nata’s, Portugal's pastries that are their pride and joy. The UK has recently put a light on the little custard tarts with many places adding them to the menu, but I'm going to be honest with you: no one does it like Portugal. So if you want an authentic custard tart, you can only visit the country and Lisbon city in particular. With an espresso in hand and the crumbs brushed off, we head towards the main square by Praça do Comércio by the river. The patterned famous yellow square has an excellent restaurant option for lunch or a light snack before we have a more traditional meal that evening.
As I head back to the boutique to interview our cover star Slayyyter for Issue 13, I leave Kirsty in the capable hands of Lisbon. As a big craft beer fan, she sets out to try out one of the best craft beer bars in town. Post interview, with the hotel offering me a meeting space, I leave to meet Kirsty for a wander around the city. We walk to see the trams before climbing some of the city's most prominent hills in search of gelato. With one of my closest friends having grown up and living in Lisbon, we are genuinely spoilt about a tour guide. For Kirsty, it's her first visit to the bustling city. Taking advantage of the time I was working to look around Alfama, we climbed through the town towards a quaint traditional restaurant on the hill overlooking the city behind the Church of St. Anthony. We feast on traditional seafood, potatoes and drinks, enjoying catching up under the moon.
The weather in Lisbon is still warm, even in early September. Having escaped what was supposed to be a deluge of rainy weather, it's nice for the temperature not to be too hot. The city can be quite the sun trap in the Summer season. As the clock ticks closer to midnight we find a local bar in Alfama for one last nightcap before heading back to the hotel to settle down and enjoy a complimentary drink in the bar. Tired and complete, we slowly move up the boutique to our room, where, to our surprise, the beds are turned down with a chocolate gift nestled between the pillows. As always, it's in the little details.
We take a slow morning in the hotel as our last day comes around. We head down to breakfast, one of the best buffet spreads I've seen. The range was vast, including local, continental and hot dishes, with us both making multiple trips before eating outside in the warmth of the garden. Today is all about the city, trips for ice cream, after starting our day with coffee and Pastéis de Natas, local sights, the hills of Lisbon and for Kirsty, souvenir shopping. We head for the morning in high spirits, ready to climb as many hills as needed. Having eaten breakfast, you wouldn't believe that our first stop was for Ice cream, but alas, it is it was. We walk the streets of Lisbon from high in the hills down to Alfama before taking a stroll through Lisbon's designer district to window shop *cough cough*. For lunch, I wasn't looking to push the boat out in being adventurous in terms of location, and as I know the hotel can adapt so quickly to my needs, it's the best place to eat whilst I route through my emails. As we have a reservation for the hotel's restaurant that evening, we like dressing up fancy and having one last hurrah before our flight the next day after breakfast. Before we all go out and try their famous sushi menu, we visit the number 28 trams and some of the best murals in Lisbon. Known for its murals and tiling, Lisbon showcases a collective of artwork from colourful traditional tiles to subjective and abstract painting. After another espresso (luckily, I drink decaf) and another Pastel De Nata down, we start the journey back to the hotel to get ready for our evening reservation.
An hour later, we're all dolled up. We take our seats in their 138 restaurant. As a pianist plays, the swanky, darkened interior throws me back to London underground Jazz clubs for all the right reasons. We are taken care of from the outset, with water, drinks and their menu awaiting us. As someone who rarely had Sushi, I was excited to try their highly recommended menu. Instantly, the sushi rolls and wagyu beef catch my eye, and it's a done deal. With an exciting and ambitious menu, the Sushi lives up to and exceeds expectations. The eight-piece sushi course sets the standards for the meal, with our mains as good as each other's. Once again, the staff outdid themselves in catering to my dietary needs and making them exciting. With Kirsty tucking into a desert, I sip on a late-night coffee, admiring and attentively listening to the pianist. We finish our meal, thanking the staff and complimenting the chef as we make our way one last time upstairs to bed for the evening. I unwind with a hot shower, cosying into the soft robes provided as I check my emails and text goodbye to local friends. As we settle into what can only be described as the dream bed setup and close my eyes, I'm quickly asleep.
It's drizzling the last morning we are in Lisbon with the air humid. We sat outside under the canopy to eat breakfast again, making multiple return trips to the extensive buffet. We decide to leave our backs whilst we head out for one final coffee and Pastéis De Nata (Amazingly, we've not turned into one by now). Smothering our custard tarts in cinnamon, we wait out the rain under the canopy in the shop down the road. We're tired, not from the lack of sleep but more so from our itineraries that were filled to the brim. Packing up, we pass through the hotel doors, warmly greeted as always. As we wait for our backs, we thank the staff who have been incredibly attentive the whole trip, in fact so much so they know little personality preferences from our stay. Our taxi pulls up outside, and our bags are loaded into the boot for our final expedition home. Although city trips are often busy, our stay with The 138 Liberdade Hotel has been anything but intensive. Instead, we've been so well looked after part of me doesn't want to go home. So, if you're looking for a space in Lisbon to call home for your weekend or short stay, then the 138 Liberdade Hotel is the place to stay.