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Approaching the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon on foot, I walked around the city’s busiest intersection — a loops-within-loops roundabout that channeled the unrelenting traffic pouring down Advenida da Liberdad. It’s mayhem, but walking just a few steps leads to the Four Seasons lobby and feels like stepping into a different world — a quieter, far cushier world, and one that’s filled with artwork.
This hotel was built for grandeur. In the 1950s, long-time Portuguese dictator Antonio de Oliveira Salazar lamented the fact that Lisbon had no hotels that would impress visiting world leaders. Salazar supervised the construction of the property himself, and the Ritz opened to great fanfare in 1959. Today, with a number of recent updates, the hotel continues to deliver luxury on a global scale.
Let’s start with the guestrooms. Managed by Four Seasons since 1997, the 241 rooms are large and bright, almost all of them with a private terrace overlooking the city and the greenery of Parque Eduardo VII.
Interior finishes feel royal, with replica 18th-century furniture, a peacock-blue color scheme and marble bathrooms. A number of guestrooms have also been renovated, with the new designs to be revealed a little later this year. The hotel’s 41 suites run from junior suites to four categories of “specialty suites” that take the property’s overall opulence to the next level.
COVID-19 protocols are carefully followed in accordance with Four Seasons’ “Lead with Care” program. Housekeeping is completed when guests are out of their rooms, television controllers are sanitized and bagged, and friendly bellmen take travelers’ temperatures upon entry to the hotel.
The hotel attracts both high-end business travelers and plenty of luxury vacationers, too, with both enjoying plenty of amenities on-site. On the rooftop, runners can take in views all the way to the Tagus River from a 400-meter track. Treadmills and other equipment inside the fitness center (now operating by appointment only) have the same vista from floor-to-ceiling windows. Clients can swim laps in the indoor pool, or just sink into one of the cushy chairs alongside it with a good book. The hotel’s new outdoor pool recently opened, and its 16,000-square foot spa is perhaps the best in the city, featuring treatments inspired by Lisbon itself.
And this year, the hotel opened Cura, a brand-new restaurant. Inspired by the Hotel Ritz’s art collection, this ground-floor restaurant serves up a carefully curated menu based on locally sourced “hero” ingredients, offering both seven- and 12-course tasting menus. Think: freshly caught sea bass with brassicas, parsley and saffron, or squid with roasted seaweed butter and caviar. Bread is baked using ancient grains such as emmer and spelt, and is paired with olive oil from the chef’s own estate, as well as aged butter from a small island in the Azores. Wines are predominantly organic, biodynamic and Portuguese.
Chef de Cuisine Pedro Pena Bastos, a former rock and roll drummer, told me that they switch out three or four courses on a weekly basis.
“We use simple, seasonal ingredients,” he said. “It’s all about treating them right.”
While the food is the art, the restaurant space is the gallery. Designed to reflect Portuguese society through the decades — especially the 1950s — wood sourced on Madeira blends with Bahia blue granite and brass accents, along with bright chairs and sofas.
Walking through the rest of the hotel, designed with a mix of art deco touches and inspiration from the era of King Louis XVI, feels like being in an art museum, too. Downloading the property’s free app to my phone, I navigated through the extensive collection of paintings, tapestries and sculptures spread throughout the public spaces. In the lobby lounge, I found one of the most prominent pieces — a trilogy of tapestries by Almada Negreiros, inspired by the constellation Centaurus. Nearby, there are two paintings — both oil on canvas by Carlos Botelho — pulsing with pastels and the energy of Lisbon in the 1950s. In the entrance hall to the grand ballroom, a giant mural by Arnaldo de Almeida, all gold and green and mother of pearl, washed over me. And on the mezzanine floor, a colorful tapestry by Sarah Alfonso feminized all four of the seasons.
Finishing up my self-guided tour, I finished with a trip to the roof. I hadn’t worn my trainers, so I simply crossed the track to take in the lights of the city, then headed back to my room. Settling into a chair on the balcony, I saw the curve of the city’s Praca Marques do Pombalroundabout, which was still busy, even late into the evening.
But it all felt very far away from inside this living museum.
The DetailsFour Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbonwww.fourseasons.com/lisbon/