WHERE IS IT? Only 15 minutes from the airport and across from Eduardo VII city park, this hotel, which opened in 1959, enjoys a prime spot on a hill overlooking the entire city. Lisbon’s red-roofed buildings unfurl like a patchwork quilt around the hotel, and the riverfront is visible in the distance. It is within walking distance of bustling Avenida da Liberdade with excellent shopping and dining, but when returning to the hotel, it’s wise to take a taxi (or Uber) since the walk back is uphill.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Fresh from a €50 million renovation, one of Portugal’s most iconic hotels is looking better than ever. What has changed is the quality of furnishings and more modern amenities while the bespoke artwork and statues of public areas remain. The combination of new and vintage was the goal of the hotel’s owners and the talented design team challenged with updating such a legendary hotel.
With nearly 60 pieces of mid-century Portuguese art designed for the hotel, the famous museum-quality pieces look right at home amid a refreshed and elegant setting. Immense tapestries, curvaceous sculptures and engraved artwork line the walls, and most have been here since the hotel’s inception. There is even a mobile app that guests can download to learn more about the artwork. Fresh flower displays abound, and the traditional lounge areas of the lobby offer a quiet place to relax after a day exploring bustling (and hilly) Lisbon.
ROOM FACILITIES Guests can choose between three room styles depending on their taste: mid-century, art deco and Louis XVI traditional. A well-known design firm oversaw the interior remodel of the hotel, but first studied historic photographs of the property to help revive the hotel’s glamour from years gone by. Wide hallways are the first indication of the elegance here. My room was on one of the mid-century theme floors where the hallways showed off replica wall sconces, voluptuous armchairs and old-fashioned clocks above the elevators. The carpeting took its inspiration from the handmade sidewalk tiles familiar in Lisbon and former Portuguese colonies.
The room is stunning with curved ceiling edges and a slew of architectural and design details that bring a bit of the hotel’s original style into the 21st century. The wooden headboard is based on the original styling of the hotel, but now features built-in power and USB sockets (including US-style plugs), lighting and electronic controls for the blackout curtains. A long desk features beautifully retro chairs that are similar to what used to be in the hotel’s former gaming room.
Mounted on the wall is a flat-screen TV almost as large as a cinema screen with connectivity ports that allow you to sync your own devices to the main screen. A chaise longue is by the window as well as a small coffee table. Around the room are several lovely throwback-style lamps, which the hotel eventually wants to make available to guests to purchase. The wavy pattern of the carpeting comes from one of the iconic lobby tapestries representing the waves of the river that flows past Lisbon. Even cabinet handles and design of the closet drawers harken back to the mid-century look of decades past.
Of course, like at any Four Seasons, the signature bed is dreamy with oversized pillows and duvet. A small nook in the foyer features a minibar, hot water kettle and Nespresso machine. Several suites expand the living space by adding a dining table, kitchen, and second bathroom and balcony.
Green-tiled and marble bathrooms have dual vanities stocked with Bulgari toiletries, heated towel racks, lighted makeup mirror, a water closet and glass shower stall with rainfall showerhead mounted on the ceiling. A soaking tub provides an alternative.
The star of the show is outside on the furnished terrace where all of Lisbon spreads out before you. Two chairs and a coffee table are the perfect place to start your day overlooking the waterfront and all of the city at your feet. It was my favorite part of the room.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Dining at the hotel’s truly gastronomic restaurants is a tradition among locals, not just guests. Varanda is an elegant dining room serving a tasty breakfast buffet or a la carte menu. The restaurant is a favorite of locals to conduct business over coffee or during the executive lunch menu. An outdoor terrace is wonderful for dining, too. CURA is a new addition to the hotel with three tasting menus (including one for vegetarians). Portuguese chef Pedro Pena Bastos and his team work from an exhibition kitchen giving guests a peek into their masterpiece creations, which can include squid with hazelnuts, roasted seaweed butter and caviar or Hokkaido pumpkin, chanterelles, pistachios and Indian cress.
Le Ritz Bar serves beautifully presented cocktails amid the fine art collection, and a new al fresco terrace is the perfect after-work spot. Afternoon tea here is a regal affair. Light dishes and a sushi menu are also served. By the pool, guests can order from a menu of fresh salads, sandwiches and other light meals.
LEISURE FACILITIES New to the hotel is a heated, outdoor pool covered in handcrafted blue tiles, which enjoys morning-to-afternoon sunshine (Lisbon has more than 300 days of sun a year) and features an underwater music system. Cushioned lounge chairs sit beneath red fabric umbrellas, and the staff provides towels and fruit-scented water. An indoor pool is also available by the spa.
On the roof of the building is a marvelous health club with local membership. The breadth of equipment is impressive, but even more so are the panoramic views. In addition to personal trainers, an outdoor jogging track adds to the inspiration to work out with all of Lisbon in full view. Bottled water hydrates gym goers, and in the morning hours, a healthy spread of hard-boiled eggs, yogurt, fruit and coffee is a great post-workout refuel spot. For early risers, the hotel also puts out coffee, water and pastries in the lobby, which is a delightful detail.
The spa menu has many local takers for its massage and beauty treatments. Locker rooms and relaxation areas for men and women feature saunas and steam rooms. A beauty salon in the lobby also draws Lisbon area clientele.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Wireless Internet works well including by the pool and in the many meeting rooms. A large ballroom complements the outdoor reception space including a garden terrace with splashing fountains, statues and views of the nearby park.
VERDICT This legendary property is an urban resort with incredible city views and top-notch service to match.
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS A beautiful new swimming pool, impressive room renovation and panoramic hilltop location
HOW MANY ROOMS? 282 guestrooms and suites
CONTACT Four Seaons Hotel Ritz, Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca 88, 1099-039 Lisboa, Tel +351 21 381 1400 fourseasons.com/lisbon