Bairro Alto Hotel Review – The Luxury Editor

Bairro Alto Hotel Review – The Luxury Editor

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A member of Leading Hotels of the World portiofolio, Lisbon‘s Barrio Alto Hotel has five stars (and quite righly so, we would give it six if we could). The property dates back to the 18th century and underwent a significant expansion and upgrade in 2019. Now accommodating 87 bedrooms, each drawing on Portuguese crafts from artisanal rugs to Costa Nova ceramics, a restaurant, spa and a beautiful rooftop terrace with sea views. TLE recently stayed here – read on to discover why it is our favourite hotel in the Portugese capital.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Background and Concept

Part of a grand block of buildings the Barrio Alto Hotel is found on the border between two significant neighbourhoods the elegant Chiado, and boho Bairro Alto. Here classical and contemporary, past and present, are woven together with a touch of irreverence and a focus on the future. The property celebrates all things Portuguese throughout, from the on-point decor to the food, the artwork, and the furnishings. On the fifth floor is BAHR & Terrace serves the best Portuguese cuisine in a contemporary setting and on the ground indulge in delicious baked goods at the in-house patisserie.

The renovation in 2019 expanded the floor space of the property by incorporating three adjoining buildings to the existing hotel, all of which date from the 18th century. The renovation project was undertaken by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Souto de Moura, he was himself a regular guest at the Bairro Alto Hotel, which became his home from home when staying in the city. Along with turning four buildings into one hotel, he took the bold step of adding another floor to the property, presenting the challenge of ensuring they were all at the same level,  as well as preserving existing masonry, vaults and tiles. 

Prior to starting work, his studio studied the original Pombal-era buildings in the surrounding area, so they would be able to revive architectural elements that had been lost over time. The original yellow ochre, light blue, light green and greyish green are the colours that give the final touch and preserve the identity of each building. Souto de Moura says, “It’s all cream-coloured, milky and soft. I didn’t do a colour study, but I chose soft colours.” 

Atelier Bastir created most of the interiors including all guest rooms and common areas – with the exception of the restaurant and Terrace on the 5th floor. With an aim to maintain the hotel’s imprint while bringing it into the 21st century. The building became a hotel 14 years ago, with a close connection to the surrounding area with the hotel’s slogan being “Where Lisbon is” – reflects its welcome, extended to the local community and beyond. Not just a hotel for its guests, it is for Lisboetas and all those who live and feel the city. 

The finished product is a masterpiece of architecture and interior design – updated to be more modern and luxurious, while still maintaining classical references.

The hotel’s personality is further accentuated through art, with a curated selection of pieces by various Portuguese artists. There are references to the original hotel too throughout the hotel, such as sculptures by Rui Chafes in the lobby, or the photographs by Rui Calçada Bastos. A huge tapestry of the city’s hills, with a macramé base, was created by Oficina 166 (Diana Menezes Cunha) and serves as a focal point over three floors. Its colours link to the hotel’s decor and the facades of Lisbon’s buildings. Local craftsmanship is visible throughout the hotel, from the artisanal rug in the reception to the curtains and bedspreads and ceramics in the bathrooms.

Service and Staff

The hotel is known for its hospitality and staff ever since it opened in 2004 and this shines through from the second you arrive at the hotel. Staff are trained to provide an informal and unobtrusive service and they couldn’t do more to help during our stay.

Location

Positioned on one of Lisbon’s most beautiful squares, Praça de Camões in the district of Barrio Alto. The square is one of the most popular in the city and is named after the Portuguese poet, Luís de Camões. It is lively with many restaurants and cafes, while the whole district of Barrio Alto is filled with bars, clubs, and restaurants, and is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Barrio Alto is also home to a number of historical and cultural sites as well as being the main shopping area in Lisbon. A metro station is a minute walk from the hotel which connects with the airport line and you can walk easily to any part of Lisbon from here.

Rooms and Suites

During the refurbishment, the hotel’s area doubled in size to 9,000 m2, with its four buildings providing 87 large bedrooms and suites. Families, groups, couples, and solo travellers needing space can find the perfect room for them with room categories including Single, Classic, Prestige, Junior Suite, Deluxe Junior Suite, Suite, and Signature Suite.

Each guest room offers a slightly different style or layout, but they all have a common design thread. The style is timeless, with bespoke furniture in the rooms and bathrooms, complemented by more striking accents in the colours and textures, lighting, and contemporary accessories. Comfort and convenience are key with each bedroom having a Marshall speaker and Le Labo products in the bathroom.

Rooms

Suites

Suites have been designed with luxury, glamour, and refinement in mind, while also providing a touch of modernity, absolute tranquillity and comfort. Each suite has been carefully crafted to reflect the soul of Lisbon, ensuring that your stay will be a memorable experience that you’ll want to repeat.

Some of our favourite suites include:

The Alecrim Signature Suite

The Alecrim Signature Suite is perfect for those seeking a luxurious and 5-star hotel experience. With its large size, natural light, and location on the top floor of the new wing, guests can enjoy stunning views of the historic city area and the Tagus River. The suite’s refined interior decoration and personalized service from a dedicated room maid ensure an unforgettable and unmatched stay for all guests.

Chiado

The Chiado Suite allows guests to experience the glamour of the city through its beautiful view of the historic Luís de Camões Square. The suite is decorated with contemporary design elements that make it luxurious comfortable and sophisticated. The suite also has a living room and a work area, ideal for relaxing during your visit to the capital. The bathroom with natural daylight, shower and antique rolltop bathtub make this space even more special.

Our Guest Room

Balcony and View

Bedroom

Bathroom

lll

Work Area

Complimentary Postcards and Stamps

Turn Down Service Treats

Food and Drink

BAHR Restaurant & Bar 

BAHR Restaurant & Bar on the 5th floor of the hotel is the main eating and dining area. it’s bohemian and provocative in style representing impudence and the avant-garde, it’s carefree and non-conformist.

The globally esteemed Michelin-starred Nuno Mendes is the Creative Director of BAHR. While he’s a Lisboeta, Mendes spent many years working in London, before returning to his home city.

Service begins at 7 am, with breakfast, followed by a market menu lunch, weekend brunch and dinner. Mendes prepares snacks like smoked goose barnacles on toast, starters such as aged beef tartare and mains including black pork Secretos with crayfish and Savoy cabbage. Dine indoors in the deeply fashionable restaurant, or on the terrace, with views of the Tejo river.

The first thing you see when you enter the restaurant from the lift is the art installation which embodies the essence of  Bairro Alto – “of girls and pimps; of bohemian alleys, corners and doorways” – featuring objects such as the traditional comb, knife, demijohn of red wine and the shoeshine bench. 

The restaurant is contemporary and informal with elegant touches. The bathroom fixtures have been “vandalized” with drawings, writings, and sayings by artists on gold leaf. Furniture includes benches by Valentin Loellmann, seats and side tables by Lloyd Powell, high “Jupiter” bar stools by Johanson Design, and chairs by Brazilian designer Jader Almeida and Danish brand Carl Hansen & Son.

Bahr has an open kitchen, separated from the dining room by a marble counter and leaving the serving team visible. But there’s also a superb view of the river and a scenic balcony. Dishes are made from mostly Portuguese seasonal produce, and with slight differences at lunch and dinner. Inspired by the best of Portuguese cuisine with a contemporary touch, it is emotive food, linking Nuno Mendes to Portugal and, in particular, the Alentejo. It is also influenced by the historical trade routes and products brought from distant lands. Attention is given to sustainability, not only on the menu but also on the wine list. 

Breath-taking views of the Tagus come from the 5th floor is the extension of BAHR restaurant. Open to guests and the general public, it’s one of the city’s most popular spots, namely amongst those who were regulars of the terrace prior to the remodelling. Guests can order breakfast and also from the restaurant menu (while the restaurant is open), plus from a menu of light meals available throughout the day.  

Our Dining Experience

Cocktails

Snacks

Soup

Mains

Dessert

Breakfast

What a way to start the day, we had breakfast on the terrace overlooking Lisbon, but they also serve it indoors in the restaurant too.

Mezzanine Lounge

The mezzanine floor of the hotel offers a lounge, and seating area. The design is inspired by luxury yachts and libraries, with hand-picked furniture and decor. The space’s food offering is healthy and vegetable-based, and available throughout the day.

Pastelaria

The hotel’s cafe Pastelaria specialises in quick bites and pastries with a twist. They offer a variety of pastries, including Alheira sausage and honey pastry swirls, sweet potato doughnuts, and savoury prawn-filled pastries as well as coffee by Climpson & Sons.

6th Floor Terrace

The hotel also has outdoor space on the 6th floor for hotel guests only. This space has an incredible view of the city and the Tagus river. Guests can order from a menu of light meals from the Terrace of BAHR.

Gym and Wellness

One of my favourite spaces in the hotel is the gym and wellness centre, which includes a small but well-equipped gym area, double massage room, sauna, and sensory shower. Guests can book in for treatments and personal training, as well as experience products by Suzanne Kauffmann, an internationally renowned Austrian brand of cosmetics.

Final Thoughts

Bairro Alto Hotel is the perfect place to stay for those looking for a luxurious and contemporary experience in the heart of Lisbon. The prime location in the fashionable Bairro Alto district puts you right in the middle of the city’s cultural and artistic quarter, making it the perfect place to explore all that Lisbon has to offer. The modern take on traditional Portuguese architecture is sure to turn heads, and their dedication to providing guests with the best possible experience is second to none. If you’re looking for a truly unique and luxurious travel experience, look no further than the Bairro Alto Hotel. This is our favourite property in Lisbon and is included in our guide to the best hotels in Lisbon.