One of the world’s oldest cities – centuries older than London, Rome and Paris – Lisbon is on every savvy traveler’s radar. Portugal’s once-sleepy capital is now one of Europe’s hottest capitals.
Coolhunters flock to trendy districts like the LX Factory barrio, with its mod eateries and art galleries. Contemporary new hotels have sprouted. Still, as I discovered to my delight on a recent visit, some Lisbon addresses haven’t shed their storied past. Rather than race full-blast into today’s techno-centric world, they celebrate their history.
Enter the Lapa Palace Hotel.
One of the few historic hotels in Lisbon with a pool, it’s part of the Olissippo hotel group in Portugal – boasting luxurious rooms, decor that reflects its historical origins and the crème de la crème, a large outdoor swimming pool in a beautiful garden setting.
Embracing the past at the Hotel Olissippo Lapa Palace
Originally built in 1870, this former palace was the home of a noble count before being turned into the five-star Lapa Palace Hotel in 1992.
And what a hotel it is!
Exquisite stained glass windows. Sumptuous rooms decorated with four-poster beds, Portuguese Vista Alegre porcelain and furnishings with a mix of Art Deco, colonial and neoclassic touches. Mirrors framed in gold leaf.
I was particularly entranced by the ladies’ bathroom off the reception. Padded with plush pink floral silk wall coverings, it looked like a romantic boudouir from days gone by. Frothy pink curtains even graced the entrance to each, ahem, toilet stall.
Which Lapa Palace Hotel room to book?
The hotel has 109 rooms and suites in three different sections: Palace Wing (original palace building), Garden Wing and Villa Lapa.
Palace Wing rooms are in the original palace building and have a more traditional Portuguese décor. Each of these rooms is also decorated differently; styles range from Art Deco to Louis XV. Garden Wing rooms are less ornate. Villa rooms and suites are the most exclusive and private.
But every room has its own balcony and comes with lovely L’Occitane toiletries, air-conditioning, flat-screen TV, free WiFi and twice-daily service.
I love hotels that ooze history, and so I was happy to discover our room was in the Palace Wing.
It was luxurious in a quiet understated way, with aqua silk-covered chairs, plush carpeting and heavy drapes. A single orange carnation added a pop of color to the grey, all-marble bathroom.
Best of all – the huge balcony had a smashing view of the garden and pool below and Lisbon’s wide Tagus River beyond, where small ships were docked.
Historic hotels in Lisbon with pool
Speaking of the pool… Yes, several Lisbon hotels are 5-star hotels with pools.
But few can boast the history of the Lapa Palace Hotel. Or one like its outdoor pool set in a lush garden.
Surrounded by lawns and with chaise lounges under umbrellas, this pool looked like a very inviting spot to relax. Unfortunately, we were too busy enjoying Lisbon’s sights to take advantage of it! (I’ve promised myself, next time…)
Quiet location near vintage tram stop
Tucked away on a hilltop in one of Lisbon’s most prestigious neighborhoods, the Lapa Palace is surrounded by embassies (the U.S., Swiss and Bulgarian embassies are just around the corner) and elegant, red roofed mansions.
You can take a taxi to get to the city’s central hub with its pedestrian cobblestone boulevards, shopping streets, museums and historical sights (Baixa, Chiado and Alfama districts).
But the tram is so much more fun!
Tram #25 stops a few blocks away.
This tram is one of Lisbon’s famous vintage yellow trams, with wooden seats and wood windows that slide open; I couldn’t resist poking my head out (carefully!) to better take in the views.
And then, after a day of sightseeing, we’d return to the luxurious cocoon of the Lapa Palace.
Hotel Lapa Palace, Lisbon: Bottom line?
As a classic Lisbon experience, the Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel (a member of the Leading Hotels of the World) lives up to its reputation. It’s glamorous, with excellent service – including top-hatted and tail-coated doormen.
Who’s it for?
Anyone who appreciates the charms of classic and opulent hotels – and likes an old-fashioned piano bar for drinks before or after dinner. (And, of course, who wants a hotel in Lisbon with a swimming pool.)
Who it’s not for?
People who disdain antiques and prefer hotels with a clean, minimalist design.
See the Lapa Palace Hotel website.
Also check HotelsCombined; you may find better rates here. (This popular hotel booking comparison site searches rates on Booking.com, Expedia and other similar sites to find the best rates for your dates.)
Photos courtesy Lapa Palace Hotel (except bath amenity photo © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase)
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I stayed at the Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel on a complimentary basis for this blog review. (George couldn’t join me on this trip, so I had the company of my wonderful mother!) But, as always, we write what we like, as we see it… And that is true of my review of this historic hotel in Lisbon too.
We’re Janice and George Mucalov, professional award-winning travel writers, sharing tales of luxury travel with a twist of adventure.