Heading to the Portuguese capital this year? Lisbon's accommodation scene has exploded recently, so there is no shortage of places to stay, from historic buildings and palaces to excellent independent hostels. There are real bargains to be had in the off-season, but the city can get very busy from June to September. Prices are at their highest during the summer and you'll need to book ahead to avoid disappointment. We've put together a list of some hotels in each best area to stay in Lisbon to help you plan your trip.
Lisbon’s Baixa, or ‘downtown’, is an appealing oblong of handsome buildings flanked by the squares of Rossio, Figueira and the grand riverfront Praça do Comércio. Its an impressive example of late eighteenth-century town planning, and many of its traditional shops survive – from men's outfitters to shops selling needles and thread. Most of its banks and offices have now been converted into hotels and guesthouses: a plethora of them have opened up in the last couple of years, so wherever you stay, you’ll be right in the thick of it. Consider adjacent Chiado too, the chic hilltop shopping district that’s home to the famous café A Brasileira.
Best for the cash-strapped: Florescente
The best guesthouse on Rua das Portas de Santo Antão. There's a large section of a/c rooms across four floors (some en-suite with TV), so if you don't like the room you're shown, ask for an alternative.
Best for chic design: Hotel do Chiado
Designed by architect Álvaro Siza Viera, this stylish hotel has lovely communal areas. Orange segment-shaped windows give glimpses of Chiado in one direction and the whole city in the other. All rooms have wi-fi.
Lisbon's oldest quarter is a fascinating warren of steep, winding streets that thread their way past densely packed houses where life carries on much as it has for centuries (this part of the city was first settled by the Moors in the 7th century AD). Heading uphill towards the castle, you’ll get some of the best views Lisbon has to offer, across the terracotta roof tiles and the cruise ships that anchor on the broad Tagus estuary. Fado restaurants and touristy souvenir shops are moving in, but this is still an alluring old-world village where you can spend all day exploring the narrow streets.
Best for self-contained living: Little duplex in Alfama
Pristine little apartment with a kitchenette and small dining area, all decorated in white and wood.
Best for boutique bliss: Memmo Alfama
Hidden behind the facade of a former house, paint factory and bakery lies this sleek boutique hotel. Parts of the ground floor contain the old brick ovens. The real appeal is the bar with terraces at the back, complete with small plunge pool and views over the Alfama and Tagus.
The wide, palm-lined Avenida da Liberdade is a mile-long strip of Portugal’s most expensive real estate, where embassies and consulates sit above glitzy designer shops. Gently sloping downhill from the spaces of the centre’s main park, Parque Eduardo VII, to the central Baixa, the Avenida is also a short walk from most of Lisbon’s attractions.
Best for a comfortable stay: Dom Carlos Park
Decent three-stay just off Praça Marquês de Pombal, with fair-sized rooms overs eight floors, each with cable TV. There's a downstairs bar with plasma TV and garage parking.
Best for old-meets-new charm: Heritage Avenida
In a fine mansion, this hotel superbly blends tradition and contemporary style. The ground floor once sold herbal remedies and the counter still remains. The rooms have retro fittings and there are great cityscapes from top-floor rooms.
Spread out across a hill above the old town, Bairro Alto – the ‘high district’ – has long been the city’s bohemian quarter. Its grid of densely packed streets are an intriguing medley of boutiques, bars, restaurants and graffitied houses. Relatively quiet by day, the district comes to life after midnight when on warm summer nights it seems there’s a permanent street party taking place until the small hours. This is not the place to come for a quiet night, but it's ideal if you want some serious nightlife. Stay on the fringes of the central grid to be clear of the noisiest streets.
Best for stellar views: The Independente
This is part hostel and part boutique hotel. The fantastic old building has far-reaching views over Lisbon. Lower floors house dorms, each with towering ceilings. Upstairs are quirky double rooms in the roof spaces, the best with balconies offering river views.
Best for foodies: Bairro Alto Hotel
A grand 18th-century building that has been modernized into a fashionable boutique hotel. Rooms and communal areas still have a period feel – the lift takes a deep breath before rattling up six floors. Modern touches appear in the form of a hip rooftop café and a swish split-level bar full of comfy cushions. The kitchen is helmed by an award-winning chef.
The once seedy Cais do Sodré has had a makeover, and the bars and clubs that once attracted sailors and street walkers now attract the hip and trendy. There’s an appealing riverfront promenade, tasteful warehouse conversions and the Mercado da Ribeira, the main market, much of it now given over to food stalls serving top cuisine. Cais do Sodré also has plenty of fashionable restaurants and bars, but many of its budget establishments remain; it hasn’t quite thrown off the earthiness that is part of its appeal.
Best for socializing: Oasis Hostel
In a lovely townhouse with its own patio garden, this independent hostel is a stone's throw from the fashionable Miradouro Santa Catarina. Staff host a range of evening activities, from cocktail hour to costume parties.
Best for fado fans: LX Boutique
A tasteful makeover to an old townhouse has made LX Boutique into a popular small hotel with its own chic restaurant. The
Boutique refers to its themed floors named after Portuguese poets and fado singers.
West of the centre, the well-heeled districts of Lapa and Madragoa contain some of the city’s finest mansions and embassies, many with dazzling views over the Tagus. This is the quieter, more residential side to Lisbon, yet you’re only a short tram or bus ride from the city centre one way and the historic sites of Belém the other. This is also where you’ll find the splendid Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga, an art gallery featuring the likes of Hieronymus Bosch, Dürer, Rodin and Cranach.
Best for location: Fado Bed and Breakfast
Nine clean and comfortable rooms a short walk from Santos Station.
Best for style and luxury: Olissippo Lapa Palace
A stunning 19th-century mansion set in its own lush gardens, with dramatic vistas over the Tagus. Rooms are luxurious, and those in the Palace Wing are each decorated in a different style, from Classical to Art Deco. There's also a health club, disabled access and a list of facilities as long as your arm.
In 1498, Vasco da Gama set sail from Belém to India, and the trade routes he set up established Portugal as one of the world’s superpowers. To give thanks for this good fortune, the king built the sumptuous Jerónimos monastery, the centrepiece of a raft of impressive monuments and museums in this historic suburb west of the centre. These include the Torre de Belém tower, the impressive Maritime Museum and the unmissable Berardo Collection, one of Europe’s top modern art galleries.
Best for topping up your tan: Casa Amarela
Gorgeous boutique hotel decked out in white linen and dark woods, with a/c and a garden that comes into its own in the sunshine.
Best for amazing amenities: Altis Belem
Luxury five star right on the Tagus River, with panoramic views, all the mod-cons and all the facilities. The restaurant has a Michelin star, there are indoor and outdoor pools, as well as a spa and rooftop sun deck.
Close to the airport and a short metro ride from the centre, the Parque das Nações was built for Lisbon’s Expo '98. It’s a futuristic new town of modern apartments and gardens flanking various tourist attractions, including a casino, science museum and its most famous site, the Oceanarium, which is one of the largest aquariums in Europe. You’ll also find a range of international restaurants, bars, concert venues and the giant Vasco da Gama Shopping Centre. All of this faces out onto the Tagus, here crossed by Europe’s longest bridge, the 17km-long Ponte Vasco da Gama. If you've hired a car, crossing the bridge makes for a fun experience, especially at sunset.
Best for solo travellers on a budget: HI - Pousada de Juventude Parque das Nações
Friendly youth hostel with doubles, twins and male- and female-only dorms. Rooms are clean and fairly sparse, but with some bold prints to liven the space.
Best if you're feeling flush: Myriad by Sana
Bold colours, clean lines and full-to-bust with facilities. There's a spa, gym, restaurant and bar.
This feature contains affiliate links. All recommendations are editorially independent and taken from the latest Pocket Rough Guide to Lisbon. Top image: Tram on the streets of Lisbon © Rrrainbow/Shutterstock.