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Lisbon Hotel and Accommodation Guide
Lisbon provides a wide range of accommodation catering for all types of visitors or tourist to the capital. Over the last 5 years there has been a steady year on year rise of prices and Lisbon is no longer the budget destination it once was with the price of accommodation comparable with most other European capital cities. This guide will provide an introduction to Lisbon hotels.
Lisbon Hotel Overview
This accommodation and hotel rooms guide is not written to promote or recommend any specific hotel or hostel, hotels can change owners and standards fluctuate between seasons. This accommodation guide has been written to assist you in your choice of location of the hotel and to provide a few helpful tips when selecting a hotel or hostel in Lisbon. For all new visitors to Lisbon it is suggested to stay within the Baixa & Rossio or the south end of Avenue de Libidard near Praça dos Restauradores. This area is packed full of hotels has excellent transport connections (bus, metro and tram) and is within walking distance of many of the popular tourist attractions.
Bairro Alto is again popular but the area can be very noisy on Friday and Saturday nights with Lisbon revelers crowding on the streets socialising. Alfama has a number of good hostels but because of the narrow poorly lit streets care must be taken late at night, Alfama has a lot of hills to climb. To stay further north of marquis Pombal Square will require constant use of public transport and the feel of just being outside all of the action. For hotels with extensive amenities eg swimming pools are found outside of Lisbon city heading towards Cascais.
General Information for Booking Accommodation in Lisbon
With the advent of the internet booking accommodation has never been so easy, gone are the days of phoning Portugal with both parties never truly understanding what the other is saying, but internet booking does have some disadvantages. Every hotel that appears on intermediate booking websites pay high levels of commission and many good and established hotels do not wish to pay this additional change as they have regular customers from other sources, therefore limiting their visibility on the web. For example three of my favourite low/mid range hotels in Baixa were very difficult to even locate on the internet let alone trying to book a room.
The levels of booking fees vary from website to website so shop around first before booking a room using the internet. Reviews posted describing hostels and hotels are often very dated, only really consider the views or reviews that have been written within the last year and remember every one has very different opinions of service and quality. Always try to book well ahead as accommodation can become sparse during the summer months with the poorer options remaining.
If caught in this situation just book a couple of nights and try to locate a better establishment while out in Lisbon.
Before booking any accommodation, ensure that the location is either close to the historic centre of Baixa or close to a major tube station. The metro shuts early with the last train around 22:30 but afterwards taxi prices significantly increase and nights in Lisbon start very late.
Many of lisbon's budget hotels and hostels which inhabit the older buildings of the Baixa district do not have a lift (elevator) and many that boast of a lift start from the level of the reception not the street level. A hotel I stayed in once had a lift which started on the 1st floor and involved 3 flights of stairs to reach it; if you need a lift check that it suits your requirements before purchasing the room.
Services offered by Hotels but are they needed?
Tap water is safe to drink in Lisbon so long as it has been delivered straight from the mains system. As for everything use your best judgment, if the water dispensed from the taps is cloudy or has floating particulates avoid. Never drink hot water as water heaters may be old and attic storage tanks could be in filthy locations. A new flat screen TV may convince you to purchase a room but do consider what you are going to watch on it. The hotel may have cable (TV Cabo or Zone) but English channels are limited to news (CNN, BBC Prime and Euro Sport). The standard of Portuguese TV is poor with their evening schedules pack with quizzes, news and melodramatic soap operas.
The Lisbon is a noise city, the locals communicate by shouting in their coffee shops, the car horn is preferred to the indicator and the emergency services construct symphonies on their sirens. Consider this when selecting a room in a hotel especially if you plan to keep your window open during the night.
Further Lisbon accomidation considerations
An air conditioned room cost 20-30€ more than the equivalent non air conditioned room and is only required in the peak summer months (June – august) when the windless nights struggle to cool down. During spring, summer and autumn there are cooling breezes during early evening which continue until one hour past sunset but as the land cools the night air becomes very still and air conditioning can be a blessing for a good night’s rest in summer. In all others seasons apart from mid-summer air-condition is not required, nights cool down sufficient so that an open window is that is needed.
Be sensible with valuables never leave them on show in your room, locks on doors can be weak and hotels and hostels constantly have streams of people passing through. If your room has a safe use it, if not hide passport credit cards somewhere other than under the mattress or in the one draw of the room. If purchasing the room as a walking customer, ask to see the room, hoteliers will never take offence to this request if their standard of accommodation is good. While inspecting the room always test the level of the hot water.
The temptation of “breakfast included “may sound like a bargain but breakfast and morning snacks is what Lisbon does the best. There are literally hundreds of coffee shops spread across Lisbon selling cakes, pastries and coffee. The hotel must recoup the cost of the bland continental breakfast from somewhere; ask if you can have a discount if you choose not to take the breakfast!