Lisbon in fine style

IDH  Lisbon

View from the hotel

My favourite fun place to stay in the Portuguese capital is furiously funky and fabulously located. The Internaçional Design Hotel sits on a corner of the city’s central square, Praça Dom Pedro IV (Rossio), at the top end of Lisbon’s most fashionable shopping street, Rua Augusta.

The city’s famous rattling old trams depart from Praça da Figueria, just 80 metres from the hotel. The No 28 tram takes in many of Lisbon’s top sights on its route between one side of the city and the other.

Taxis can be hailed from the hotel steps. The ornate Rossio train station across the square is the departure point for day trips to the UNESCO-listed town of Sintra. And you can buy one-day or multiple-day Lisbon travel passes from the Lotteries shop situated immediately across the road from the hotel entrance.

Rua Augusta has some of Lisbon’s most stylish clothing and shoe shops. In warmer months, this pedestrian thoroughfare has outdoor cafes and al fresco restaurant dining. And right beside the hotel is Manuel Tavares, purveyor of gourmet food and fine wines since 1860, offering a perfect choice in last-minute gift shopping before you head for home.

Recepcao (1)

Hotel reception

The IDesign Hotel is known for its deliberately quirky style, indicated at the front door by the welcome mat with its message, “I’m really curious about you …..

Inside the hotel are walls stamped with pithy quotes or decorated with enormous pop prints. There are four floors, each individually themed: Pop, Zen, Tribu and Urban. Pop is cherry red with white modular curves. Tribu channels funky-Afro and the Urban-themed floor is splashed with street art. The do-not-disturb sign in your room simply says “Go Away”. The toilet rolls are in a variety of colours, including black. The third-floor Zen-themed corner suite is the perhaps the ultimate comfort choice and has two balconies, overlooking Rossio and Rua Augusta.

While sight-seeing in Lisbon don’t miss taking a tram to the waterfront suburb of Belém to see the architectural splendour within the Mosterio dos Jerónimos, resting place of explorer Vasco da Gama (1460-1524). Nearby is the Antiga Confeitaria de Belém, famous for its pasteis de nata (custard tarts).

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Fresh air, please!

There’s a simple question I ask when booking a hotel room. Can I open the windows?

I’ve lost count of the sleepless nights spent incarcerated in a room with views through thick panes of glass set rigidly into the wall. Being captive in such a state renders me a caged animal.

breatheWhy would anyone even consider building a room with windows that don’t open? I simply don’t understand such warped logic. You can quote safety regulations all you want but what I want as a traveller is the ability to breathe in and to hear wherever it is I am. That’s intrinsic to my being there.

Should things outside my hotel room become adversely noisy, smelly or whatever then I can always simply close the window. I should have that choice.

Sadly, many hotels deny us the basic human right of breathing in fresh air. Instead we are doomed to incarceration and forced to inhale recycled air billowing into the room from an air-conditioning system and invariably positioned most inappropriately, blowing directly onto the bed so guests are chilled to the bone when asleep.

Even worse in my book are those hotels in which rooms have the double damnation of fixed windows and air-con you can’t adjust or switch off.  And if granted in-room control of their air-con, then guests often face another vexing issue, that the air-con systems in “enclosed” hotels are nearly always so noisy. I’ve spent nights switching off the apparatus for some peace and quiet only to have to switch it back on within an hour because I’m gasping for oxygen or about to faint from stifling heat.

The solution is easy? A simple breeze. It works wonders in combating both heat and fatigue and promoting relaxation. Open those windows, please!