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Portugal is experiencing a renaissance of sorts, with the number of travelers visiting the country growing rapidly each year. And if your clients are among these masses who hit Lisbon, its capital, as their first stop, consider booking Iberostar Lisboa — Iberostar Hotels & Resorts’ dazzling debut in the country — for a cushy, comfortable stay.
Open since Oct. 12, 2017, the new city hotel has duly earned its five-star rating. The hotel looks and feels luxurious thanks to its wide-open spaces, contemporary decor and generous amenities. In the stunning first-floor lobby — where, during the day, natural light pours in through floor-to-ceiling windows that look out onto the surrounding Coracao de Jesus neighborhood — guests arrive to charismatic Iberostar employees and a complimentary welcome treat of crisp apples, as well as a choice of champagne, sparkling water or still water.
To satisfy a different craving or quench a thirst for something stronger, guests can kick off their stay with an indulgence from the adjoining lobby bar, which is open from 9 a.m. to midnight each day. The chic space is fittingly named Boalma, a combination of the words “good” and “soul” in Portuguese. Here, guests will find substantial eats, such as a nicoise salad with smoked salmon and apple, a sirloin steak sandwich and an orange cake with chocolate ice cream.
Out of Iberostar Lisboa’s 166 guestrooms, there are 153 double rooms, eight junior suites, two regular suites and one royal suite, called the Marques de Pombal Suite, as well as two rooms designed for guests with reduced mobility. Across the accommodation categories, decor is on-trend with its simplicity but still exudes tasteful elegance, including accents such as velvet pillows, statement walls in a textured grey hue and modern lighting. My city-view superior double room featured a spacious rainfall shower, a Nespresso coffee machine, a minibar, free Wi-Fi access and a view of the neighborhood below. (Note: Some rooms may have a chain screen cover on their window to shade often-intense sunlight.)
Iberostar Hotels & Resort’s first Portugal property opened in Lisbon on Oct. 12, 2017. // © 2018 Iberostar Lisboa
The 166-room luxury city hotel features contemporary decor and generous amenities. // © 2018 Iberostar Lisboa
A junior suite at Iberostar Lisboa // © 2018 Iberostar Lisboa
The living room of the Marques de Pombal Suite (royal suite) // © 2018 Iberostar Lisboa
Some room categories include a bathroom with standing tub. // © 2018 Iberostar Lisboa
Guests can dine at the on-site Restaurant Luz, which offers Portuguese cuisine with a modern twist. // © 2018 Iberostar Lisboa
Families may want to consider booking multiple guestrooms or at least a junior suite, which is the only room category that allows three people instead of two at most. Junior suites each feature two single beds and a sofa bed (its size is best suited for a child, not an adult). Another option for bigger groups is to book the Marques de Pombal Suite (for two people) in addition to a connecting suite (for two people).
A unique — and, surprisingly, entirely gratis — amenity provided in each room is a smartphone, available for use even outside the hotel during a stay. It contains curated city tips; up to 30 minutes of free local and international voice calls each day; internet access; and use of apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Google Maps. As expected, the phone came in handy many times during my exploration of Lisbon’s winding cobblestone streets.
Guestrooms are located on higher floors in the same building as the lobby; all other facilities — including the on-site Restaurant Luz, the pool and terrace bar, the spa and the 24-hour fitness center — are accessed through a short pedestrian walkway that leads into another building.
At Luz, breakfast is included with a “bed and breakfast” booking (clients can also opt for a room-only stay), and it’s far from the typical continental buffet fare. From 7 to 11 a.m., eggs and coffee drinks can be made-to-order, and there’s an array of various hot dishes, cold items, pastries and fresh-squeezed juices. The restaurant transforms into a more polished affair come lunch and dinnertime, featuring fabulous Portuguese cuisine with a modern flair and artistic presentation. For example, an amuse-bouche of crispy potato with truffle, a poached quail egg and Iberian ham arrived in an (otherwise empty) sardine tin, and, later, the restaurant managed to do the impossible: treat me to a dairy-free rendition of risotto, with clams and loin of confit cod.
Luz looks out into the property’s beautiful pool area, which was closed during my stay. Gorgeous vertical gardens border the outdoor space, and once open during hotter weather, guests will be able to sip on drinks poolside during the hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. If clients visiting during chilly times of year are still yearning for pool time, they can visit the spa (open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.). Use of the spa circuit, which includes a heated indoor pool, is complimentary for guests who have booked a massage; otherwise, it costs about $19 per day.
Despite being so new, Iberostar Lisboa is operating smoothly; I didn’t notice any blunders in service or presentation. The hotel met my expectations — a bar that had been set by Luis Mota, chief strategy and finance officer for Iberostar Group. During a press conference held a couple days before my stay, Mota remarked that the property was exceptional.
“We think it’s a great example of what we want a city hotel to be,” he said.