Archive for January, 2009

Lisbon, “The Capital of Charm” selling its palaces

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Solar do Castelo Hotel, LisbonIt was officially announced yesterday that Lisbon’s City Hall is selling six of its historic palaces and mansions to be converted into boutique hotels. They date from the 18th to 19th centuries and are in an advanced state of decay, therefore needing major restoration works but with the possibility of being turned into some of Lisbon’s most fantastic places to stay.

Under the title “Lisbon, The Capital of Charm,” the sale will take place starting next month, with prices ranging from 400,000 to 4 million euros. The most expensive one has a private garden and is located not far from the National Pantheon, while Braamcamp Palace by the Santa Catarina viewpoint would offer some wonderful rooms with views.

Once turned into hotels, these will be small, charming or luxurious properties known as boutique hotels, and will offer between 15 to 40 rooms (at the moment there are already more than a handful of hotels of that category in Lisbon, which include As Janelas Verdes and York House in the Lapa quarter, Solar do Castelo by St. George’s Castle, and Britania and Bairro Alto Hotel closer to the center of the city).

If you don’t have those millions to buy the palatial properties for sale but still would like to make an investment in Lisbon, there’s another opportunity across the river. Close to the beaches of Sesimbra and not far from the Troia resort there is a plot of land being sold where you can build your dream home, which you can read more about here.

Lisbon’s Cop3 Restaurant Review

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Cop3 Restaurant, Lisbon

UPDATE: THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED

Cop’3 is currently one of the most talked-about restaurants in Lisbon. In 2006 its chef won the local “Chef of the Year” award, and admirers of Portuguese cuisine have raved about his supposedly creative interpretations of it since then.  My experience was very mixed.

First impressions were great. Unlike in the photos shown on the website, the space is pleasantly low-lit creating a warmer, more intimate ambience. Coincidentally or perhaps inspired by the location in the Santos Design District, it features some tasteful modern design in its décor as found on the many shops in the neighborhood. Soft background music adds to the mood without being intrusive to conversation like at many other places.

The service was highly professional and practically flawless. Our order was taken by a waitress but was served by a waiter who’d obviously been informed who ordered what at the table, bringing the correct dishes to each of us four without having to ask us what went to whom. It was the simple yet notable details such as this one that made the experience stand out from others in the city. The disappointment only came with the food.

The chef is either very health-conscious or ran out of salt, as three of the four dishes were very bland. Adding to the complete lack of taste, the portions were far from generous and there was nothing innovative or particularly creative about them. We’re not talking about a haute cuisine restaurant serving a tasting menu here, so larger-than-appetizer-sized entrées are expected. With each averaging about 20 to 22 euros, they were also very overpriced.

We ordered two fish dishes, one meat, and a vegetable risotto (this last one was especially poorly served). To accompany that we chose a Quinta de Cabriz wine from Portugal’s Dão region. Only two of us ordered dessert, and it was the same one — a rice pudding with ice cream. The total bill was 120.50 euros, which we all felt really paid more for the service and the space than the food. It made it very unlikely that any of us will return, which is too bad considering the well thought-out concept, ambience, and service.

If I were to rate Cop3 from 1 to 10 (with 10 being the best), I’d give it a 9 for atmosphere and service, but only about a 4 for the food. If you’ve been to this restaurant and would like to share your own experience, feel free to comment below.  Perhaps you can convince me to return or let me know when the menu changes.

Beyonce, Oasis, and Il Divo: Only some of the concerts in Lisbon in 2009

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Beyonce concert in LisbonThe concerts calendar for 2009 in Lisbon is now beginning to get filled up, and there are already confirmed events until the summer.  Even better news is the possibility to buy tickets for them right now.
In our calendar of events page we’re highlighting the upcoming shows in the Portuguese capital, and listing the regular annual events that you should also keep an eye out for.

If you’re planning to come to Lisbon this year, bookmark this page as it is regularly updated with more additions of upcoming concerts and events. Perhaps your favorite band or artist will not pass by your hometown on their world tour, or you simply were not able to get tickets for it there — Lisbon can be your opportunity to still catch them live. Don’t forget that Lisbon has a privileged location as the closest European capital to the United States and just between one to three hours from most other major European capitals and cities. And best of all, you not only get to enjoy the concert but also one of Europe’s most pleasant cities!

Where to Stay in Lisbon in January

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

Avenida Palace Hotel, LisbonJanuary is usually the coldest and darkest month of the year in Lisbon, so if you happen to be in the city this month you’ll want to look for central accommodation where you don’t have to walk very far to the sights or the nearest metro station. Whether you prefer to stay at an apartment, a hotel, or a hostel, there are various choices for you, and we’re singling out some extra special places.

If is often forgotten that one of Lisbon’s best and most elegant hotels is found right between Rossio and Restauradores squares downtown. That’s AVENIDA PALACE, with rooms facing the bustling Restauradores Square, but with double-glass windows keeping the noise out. There’s no stylish modern design here — this is all about classic imperial décor recalling the opulence of bygone eras. Expect to walk under crystal chandeliers, through long marble hallways, and past Louis XV furnishings.   If you want to visit more palatial splendor, the train station to Sintra is right next door, and more historical architecture is found in Belem, just a tram ride away from Praça da Figueira next to Rossio.

The recent invasion of modern hostels in the center of Lisbon leaves you with some excellent choices if you are a budget traveler or simply like to stay in more convivial places where you can meet people from all over the world. Former guests leave raving about Lisbon’s hostels, and one of them is
LIVING LOUNGE HOSTEL, located in one of the city’s most central streets. It has a great atmosphere and features some wonderfully unique modern décor designed by local artists.

Modern furnishings are also part of APARTMENT 65, your perfect home in Lisbon if you’re looking for private accommodation in the center of the city. It looks out to Rossio Square and you can relax with a drink at night with the city illuminated outside your window. It accommodates up to 6 people thanks to two double beds and two single beds, ideal for a family or a group of friends.