Life-size graphics with colorful street scenes line the hallways of the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel, reminders of how exquisitely poised the hotel’s location is to explore all the historical, culinary, art and architectural riches Lisbon has to offer.
Located on the elegant Avenida da Liberdade, the property sits on a beautiful tree-lined boulevard modeled after those found in Paris. Two wide pedestrian pavements with cafes, trees, gardens, statues, and benches divide the length of the ten-lane street. The neighborhood has an abundance of theaters, restaurants, bars, elegant retail shops, hotels, museums and monuments. Buildings on both sides of the Avenida represent a mix of Portuguese architecture from the 1800s to modern. Railway and Metro stations are both only a few steps away.
We spent two nights at this five-star property before embarking on a river cruise on the Douro River with Viking River Cruises.
The hotel first took its name, Tivoli Lisboa, from the landmark music hall/cinema (Teatro Tivoli) that still occupies the western corner of the Avenida da Liberdade.
Predating the hotel, Pensao Tivoli (a small boarding house) first opened its doors next to the theater in 1933; it later grew into a full-service hotel in 1940. World War II and the Spanish Civil War set back further expansion plans until 1957 when the same family opened the Tivoli Lisboa Hotel in its current location across the street.
The modern building, designed by Portuguese architect Pardal Monteiro, has 302 rooms (15 of them suites) in total. It has entertained a host of international celebrities and political figures over the years.
Looking toward the future: Minor Hotels Group recently acquired Tivoli Hotels & Resorts (currently operating 12 properties in Portugal and two in Brazil) in February 2015. The Minor group is planning a $15 million upgrade to the Tivoli Lisboa property in the next year, including guest rooms and public spaces.
We stayed in Room 420, which offered lovely views of the mature trees forming a canopy over Avenida da Liberdade. Curtains and a pull-down grate over our windows assured us of a noise-free sleep on the super comfy beds.
Our room was somewhat older and small, but well-maintained.
The room had a wide-screen TV and free Internet connection, at the basic level. (Higher-speed connections were available at an additional cost).
The marble bathroom had been renovated with modern appliances, including a wide sink and bidet.
The hotel lobby is large and welcoming space with enough sofas and chairs to stock a large furniture store. As a result, there is always a place to relax, sit back, and people-watch. Although we didn’t have the time to indulge, the hotel has a spa, gym and pool. Instead, we succumbed to the day and evening lure of Lisbon’s streets.
We did get to enjoy complimentary breakfasts (twice) at Brasserie Flo, located on the ground floor of the hotel. With a soaring ceiling, circular window that wraps around the corner of the street, and rich wood-paneled walls and furnishings, the restaurant otherwise has the feel of a typical French brasserie. At one end of the room is an intricate Zodiac tapestry, one of many pieces of Portuguese art displayed throughout the hotel.
The bountiful buffet table had an array of international and Portuguese offerings, including local cheeses and meats. Breakfast provided an introduction to Portuguese cuisine, especially the wonderful breads and pastries.
Another spot in the hotel that shouldn’t be missed is the Sky Bar, located on the ninth floor of the hotel beside Terraco, the rooftop restaurant that specializes in creative contemporary Portuguese cuisine. The wide city views from the modern rooftop bar include the Tagus River. With some 300 days of sunshine a year in Lisbon, the light and crisp air complement any wine or cocktail.
There were a few hiccups in the otherwise-five-star service: The concierge staff and check-in were efficient but when we tried to reach by reception by phone, we had to give up trying before our calls were answered. Elevator service was also spotty forcing us to use other elevators on the far side of our floor.
The take-home experience
Once you’ve gotten a taste of Lisbon, you want to take it home. In a clever promotion, Tivoli Lisboa Hotel allows you to extend your city experience with a doggie bag of sorts.
I’ve previously written about Pasteis de Nata, the world-famous tart created in Lisbon 1837 through a partnership between a monk from the Jeronimos Monastery in Belem, Lisbon and a Brazilian businessman who opened a patisserie baking the tarts. The hotel allows you to order a box of six Pasteis de Nata to take home at a cost of 15€. The offer is hard to resist after you taste the complimentary mini-tarts delivered to your hotel room during your stay.
IF YOU GO
Tivoli Lisboa Hotel
Av. da Liberdade 185, 1269-050 Lisboa, Portugal
Disclosure: The hotel stay in Lisbon was the first segment of our sponsored trip with Viking River Cruises. However, any opinions expressed in this post are our own.