Archive for January, 2010

Lisbon’s Jardim da Estrela Has a New Café

Friday, January 29th, 2010

Jardim da Estrela, Lisbon

Lisbon’s Jardim da Estrela, the charming neighborhood park faced by the beautiful Estrela basilica, has a new café. It’s in the same location as one that existed until two years ago, when it closed until this week. It now has a new management and a renovated look, serving Portuguese menus at any time of the day (until 9PM Sunday to Thursday; 11PM on Fridays and Saturdays).
This being one of the major stops of the unofficial “tourist tram,” the 28, you can make this a pleasant pause in your sightseeing. The park (actually referred to as a garden) is quite beautiful, with exotic trees, a duck-filled pond, a children’s playground, and plenty of space for a workout. Before or after a walk in the park, sit at one of the tables outside, or if the weather doesn’t permit that, go indoors which is filled with mismatched furniture. Whether you just want a Lisbon custard tart and a drink, or want to have a full meal, everything is quite inexpensive. There is always a menu of daily specials, usually offering soup, and a fish and meat dish. You may also go just for a glass of warm wine, although in the summer the offer will be cocktails.
On some days you’ll also catch some live music, usually jazzy and reggae sounds.

Jardim da Estrela, Lisbon

Jardim da Estrela, Lisbon

Jardim da Estrela, Lisbon

Wine in the Afternoon Overlooking Lisbon at Entretanto Bar, Hotel do Chiado

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Entretanto Bar, Hotel do Chiado, Lisboa

From now until February 28th you can have a glass of wine as you admire one of the best views of Lisbon after a day of sightseeing, conferences, or work in the city. Every day at 5PM, Hotel do Chiado‘s special “After Work Wine Experience” will offer Portuguese wines at its rooftop “Entretanto Bar” which has one of the most beautiful views of Lisbon, from the river to the castle and uptown. The wine is served by the glass starting at €2.50, and you may choose among reds, whites, and sparkling wines — all from Portugal. Each comes with an accompanying snack or tapa, and on some days there will also be live music (mostly jazz and bossa nova). That’s the perfect ambience and the perfect setting for the most perfect end to your day or start of your night in Lisbon.
While this event is open to everyone, if you’re a guest at the hotel, you can have just a few extra drinks, since your bed will not be too far away. More hotel information here: Hotel do Chiado.

Lisbon’s “Talented Young Chefs” in the New York Times

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Lisbon Chefs in the New York Times

The New York Times’ T Magazine (devoted to style and culture) has just published an article highlighting the new gastronomic excitement in Lisbon. If you’ve been following GoLisbon’s posts, you may have noticed that renowned chefs have been opening new restaurants to great acclaim in the past couple of years. That local excitement has now crossed the Lisbon and Portugal borders, with the top international publications taking notice. The just-published New York Times article highlights the just-Michelin-starred Tavares for its young “big-time talent” chef, and goes on to recommend the other “hottest new tables” in town, such as Henrique Sa Pessoa’s Alma and Luis Baena’s Manifesto. As always expected from the New York Times, this is a very well researched and well-written report, which concludes with a hotel recommendation which has also been highlighted here at GoLisbon, Palacete Chafariz D’El Rei.
The article also does an excellent job in its overall description of “luminous” Lisbon, calling it “one of the rare Old World capitals to have escaped the soul-sloughing ugliness of postwar American urbanism” and that it “even still smells like a traditional European city.” You can read all about it here.

Lisbon wins the Hoscars for 2nd year running!

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Travellers House Hostel, Lisbon

In Dublin last night, HostelWorld.com announced the winners of their very own Oscars for Hostels, the 2010 Hoscars (HOStelworld Customers Annual Rating – clever, eh?) with over 350 hostel owners and managers attending.

This prestigious event includes awards presented to hostels with the highest customer ratings and reviews, as voted for by over 900,000 Hostelworld.com customers. The event last night was to announce the best hostels for 2009.

Last year, Lisbon took the top 3 places in the list, and guess what? This year the top 3 have won again, in exactly the same order! And a total of 5 Lisbon hostels were included in the Top 10, which is one better than last year. It’s clear that Lisbon’s hostel owners are making serious efforts to keep their guests happy.

The top three best hostels were:

  1. Travellers House Hostel
  2. Rossio Hostel
  3. Living Lounge Hostel

Lisbon Lounge Hostel came in at number 7, and the Lisboa Central Hostel was a very respectable 10th.

But you can’t help but admire the Travellers House Hostel. Nominated best hostel for 2 years running, and also in the Top 3 of GoLisbon’s list of most popular hostels for 2009. This hostel is proving consistently that it is the favorite in the city according to reviews from past guests. It is located in Lisbon’s main pedestrian street, Rua Augusta and not only is the location perfect, the design of the décor is another major attraction.

Congratulations are due then, to Lisbon’s hostels in general, and to Travellers House in particular.

“Largo” – Lisbon’s Next Great Restaurant

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010

Restaurante Largo, Lisbon

You heard it here first: “Largo” is Lisbon’s next great restaurant. You’ll soon see it recommended in every major article about Lisbon and will become one of the most talked-about in the city. Its location in Chiado, in an old cloister by the opera house works in its favor, but it’s the highly professional team behind it that guarantees that this restaurant is a major treat for your eyes and tastebuds. The décor is the creation of Miguel Câncio Martins, mostly known for Paris’ famous Buddha Bar, while the menu is the work of Miguel Castro e Silva, one of Portugal’s most acclaimed chefs who’s been in Porto‘s “Bull & Bear” (largely known as one of the country’s best restaurants) over the past few years. While every dish has a certain international touch, everything on your plate will essentially be Portuguese cuisine, perhaps with the exception of the chef’s signature foie gras tureen.
The two Miguels have created a space that works as a romantic restaurant for couples or as a sophisticated-yet-relaxed business lunch destination. The interior is quite beautiful, with imported furnishings such as Danish lights and a Dutch portico standing out in an attractively-lit space with old columns and sea anemone tanks. It accommodates up to 120 people, but it’s a good idea to book your table in advance. The prices are slightly above average but you’ll agree that the experience is worth it.

Address: Rua Serpa Pinto, 10A
Phone: 21 347 7225
Opens every day
Website: www.largo.pt

Dining Over Lisbon: The 5 Best Lisbon Restaurants with City Views

Friday, January 15th, 2010

Restaurante Via Graça, Lisboa

Instead of the usual 300 days of sunshine per year, Lisbon must have gotten just about 250 in the past 12 months. This winter has been particularly brutal throughout Europe, and although there are no snow storms or below-zero temperatures here in Lisbon, the city has gotten plenty of rain. That can ruin most sightseeing plans, so if you find yourself in the city during a dark and wet winter day, you should look for alternatives to your planned itinerary. Usually you’d admire the city from its famous viewpoints, but you can avoid getting yourself and your camera wet by looking at similar views from indoors. There are several restaurants in the city that offer panoramic views, and where you can save time by doing some sightseeing as you eat. These are the five best choices for that:

Chapitô
It seems that everyone in Lisbon takes their foreign friends to this restaurant. It’s understandable to see why, as it offers one of the best views over the city. Its outdoor terrace is one of the most pleasant spots on warmer days, while its interior dining area features large windows through which you can see all of Lisbon descending to the Tagus. The menu is an international fusion of flavors, and the prices pay for the food and the views.

Eleven
The Michelin-star experience at this restaurant is not just because of the food. It also offers 5-star views over Lisbon, from the top of Edward VII Park all the way to the river. It’s known as Lisbon’s most ambitious restaurant, meaning also the most expensive, but everything from the service to the food and views are worth the splurge.

Panorama
Lisbon’s Sheraton Hotel is the tallest building in the center of the city, so its restaurant on the top floor has one of the best panoramic views of Lisbon. It serves a combination of Portuguese and international dishes in a refined atmosphere which you don’t have to stay at the hotel to enjoy.

Terraço
The top of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel was reserved to offer guests and non-guests one of the finest views over Lisbon. This way everyone can enjoy looking at the castle and above Avenida da Liberdade pointing towards the river, and enjoy a refined menu of Portuguese cuisine.

Via Graça
It’s found not far from the Graça viewpoint, yet it remains a local secret away from the beaten tourist path. The views from its windows are very similar to those from Graça and Senhora do Monte viewpoints, and while the prices may be above average, the food is quite worth it, all classic Portuguese cuisine.

Lisbon’s Concerts in 2010

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Lisbon Concerts 2010

GoLisbon has just updated its Lisbon Calendar of Events, listing the upcoming concerts in the city. Those will include performances by names as diverse in musical styles as Joss Stone and Metallica, Tokyo Hotel and Mika. You’ll be able to get ticket information for each concert through that page, including for the annual three-day Optimus Alive festival which so far has announced Pearl Jam as one of the performing bands. Another major music festival in the city will be Rock in Rio-Lisboa which still has to announce its lineup of bands and singers.
If you’re a football (soccer) fan, you can also get ticket information for the matches of Portugal’s main league, which of course includes Lisbon’s Benfica and Sporting: Lisbon Events and Tickets

A Guide to Lisbon, “Europe’s most soulful and seductive capital” from The Sunday Times Travel Magazine

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

The Sunday Times TravelSun-splashed streets, vintage trams, boho bars – Portugal’s playful capital is captivating by day, seductive by night.” That’s how Lisbon is introduced in the January 2010 issue of the British magazine “The Sunday Times Travel” which presents a 5-page guide to the city. It starts with an introduction that says that Lisbon, “Europe’s most soulful and seductive capital is an eye-opener any time of the day or night,” and that you’ll “love it round the clock.” It then offers a guide divided into two sections titled “Soulful” and “Playful,” suggesting sights to see and places to go. For those with a larger budget it recommends Pestana Palace and Bairro Alto Hotel as the places to stay, for average prices there’s York House, and for those preferring a hostel there’s Living Lounge Hostel with its individually-designed rooms that led the New York Times to proclaim it “Europe’s best hostel.”
Among the restaurant recommendations there is A Travessa, while at night it of course suggests the biggest club in the city, Lux. For those who want to do some shopping there’s the inevitable A Vida Portuguesa and the hip boutiques of Bairro Alto.
While the article picks some interesting good choices and presents some attractive photos, there are a couple of errors. One is saying that the English Cemetery is where tram 28 starts its journey, when that is actually the Prazeres Cemetery (although the tram does pass through Estrela which is the neighborhood where you’ll find that English Cemetery, the resting place of the author of “Tom Jones,” Henry Fielding). The other error is saying that the dome of Graça Church took 285 years to finish, when that is actually the dome of the National Pantheon. It also provides an outdated information about the mostly-abandoned theater district Parque Mayer, saying there’s a planned Frank Gehry redevelopment for the site, when that has been cancelled some time ago.
Despite those lapses, the article is quite informative, including some interesting trivia such as the origin of the Lisbon “bica” (its espresso-like coffee) and of the local expression “para Inglês ver” (“for the English to see”.)

Go Lisbon’s Most Popular Hotels and Hostels in 2009

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Lisbon hotels

Price, location, and positive reviews from past guests were the selling points for the hotels and hostels most booked in 2009 through GoLisbon.com. Looking at the top 5 hotels, they average an 8.3 out of a possible 10 rating from past guests and are all centrally located or with easy access to and from the airport. Three of them are located downtown, with the relatively new Vincci Baixa having already claimed a spot in the top 5. What they all also have in common is their price range, with double rooms at below 100 euros throughout most of the year, and often going for as low as 60 euros. Their positive rating means that their strongest selling point is good value for money but their locations are also a plus.
In our hostel bookings the ratings from previous visitors were also important to attract new guests, with the top 5 hostels averaging a 93.5% approval. The most booked hostel was the gay-friendly Pouso dos Anjos Guesthouse followed by Lisbon Story Guesthouse and Travellers House in the Baixa, downtown district.
GoLisbon also offers apartment bookings, all located in the most central and charming historical neighborhoods, as well as pousadas which this year attracted a larger number of travelers. Below is the top 5 hotels and hostels, showing their percentage of all bookings made through GoLisbon.com:

TOP 5 HOTELS
1. Altis Park 6%
2. Radisson SAS Lisboa 5%
2. Residencial Florescente 5%
4. VIP Inn Veneza 3.1%
5. Vincci Baixa 2.9%

TOP 5 HOSTELS
1. Pouso dos Anjos Guesthouse 10%
2. Lisbon Story Guesthouse 6.5%
3. Travellers House 6.1%
4. Alfama Patio 3.4%
5. Lisbon Poets 3%
5. Oasis Backpackers Mansion 3%
5. Lisbon Old Town Hostel 3%