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Olissippo Lapa Palace Review: Embracing History in Lisbon

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.

And it’s home to one of Europe’s most romantic hotels – the Olissippo Lapa Palace.

Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel
There are many great hotels in Lisbon, but none like the Olissippo Lapa Palace

Olissippo Lapa Palace review

Of course, there are many beautiful places in Portugal to visit.

But as the capital, Lisbon has much to offer.

Lisbon, Portugal
Lisbon is historic, beautiful and a fabulous city to visit!

You could easily spend three days in Lisbon without getting bored. Coolhunters flock to trendy districts like the LX Factory barrio, with its mod eateries and art galleries.

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.

And that is true of the Olissippo Lapa Palace.

One of the best 5-star hotels in Lisbon

There aren't too many hotels in Lisbon with a swimming pool like the huge one at the Olissippo Lapa Palace!
There aren’t too many hotels in Lisbon with a swimming pool like the one at the Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel!

Part of the Olissippo hotel group in Portugal, the Olissippo Lapa Palace hotel boasts luxurious rooms, decor that reflects its historical origins and the crème de la crème – a large outdoor swimming pool in a beautiful garden setting.

Originally built in 1870, this former palace was the home of a noble count before being turned into the 5-star Lapa Palace Hotel in 1992.

In the gracious lobby of the Olissippo Lapa Palace, you feel as if you're stepping back into the 19th century.
You feel as if you’re stepping back into the 19th century in the gracious lobby

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 boudoir from days gone by.

Frothy pink curtains even graced the entrance to each, ahem, toilet stall.

Breakfast on the balcony at Olissippo Lapa Palace, Lisbon
Care for breakfast on your balcony overlooking the pool?

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.

A Palace room in the Lapa Palace Hotel, Lisbon...
A Palace room, similar to the room we had…

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.

Bathroom amenities in our Hotel Olissippo Lapa Palace room
Luxury is in the details, like these bath amenities in our Lapa Palace Hotel room

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.

View from the room
We had a view like this from our room; lovely, eh?

Lisbon hotel with a pool

Speaking of the pool… Yes, several Lisbon hotels are 5-star hotels with pools.

But few can boast the history of the Hotel Olissippo Lapa Palace. And I doubt there’s another luxury Lisbon hotel with an outdoor pool to match this one, which is set in a lush garden.

Surrounded by lawns and with chaise lounges under umbrellas, the pool looked like a very inviting spot to relax.

Unfortunately, we were too busy enjoying some of the great things to do in Lisbon to take advantage of the pool! (I’ve promised myself, next time…)

There aren't too many Lisbon hotels with a pool
There are several Lisbon hotels in Lisbon with pool,s but none like this Lapa Palace Hotel pool; it begs “Come join me!”

Quiet location near vintage tram stop

No review of the Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel would be complete without talking about its location.

Tucked away on a hilltop in one of Lisbon’s most prestigious neighborhoods, the Hotel 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!

Vintage tram in Lisbon
Riding in one of Lisbon’s vintage yellow trams is an authentic way to get around the city

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.

Olissippo Lapa Palace Review: 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.

Olissippo Lapa Palace, Lisbon: Check rates and availability

Experience more of Portugal

Porto: Is Porto worth visiting? You bet! Here’s how to avoid the crowds.

Madeira: There are some fabulous hikes and levada walks in Madeira.

Comparing Portuguese cities: Is Porto better than Lisbon? Or is Lisbon the better city to visit?

Our top travel tips and resources

Hotels: is great for scoring a “wow” hotel – or at least a decent one. (We especially like their flexible cancellation policy!)

Vacation homes, condos and rentals: We prefer and use Vrbo (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

Tours: For the best local food, walking and other guided tours, plus skip-the-line tickets to attractions, check out Viator (a TripAdvisor company) and GetYourGuide.

Car rental: Renting a car is often one of the best ways to explore off the beaten path. Discover Cars searches car rental companies so you get the best rates.

Travel insurance: SafetyWing is designed for frequent travelers, long-term adventurers and digital nomads. It covers medical expenses, lost checked luggage, trip interruption and more. We also have and recommend Medjet for global air medical transportation and travel security.

Travel gear: See our travel shop to find the best luggage, accessories and other travel gear. (We suggest these comfy travel sandals for city walking, the beach and kicking about.)

Need more help planning your trip? Check out our travel tips and resources guide for airline booking tips, ways to save money, how to find great hotels and other crazy useful trip planning info.

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Most beautiful hotel in Lisbon
Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel Lisbon review

Photo credits: 8 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 1, 4 to 7, 9, 10 Hotel Olissippo Lapa Palace

I (Janice) stayed at this deluxe Lisbon hotel on a complimentary basis for this Olissippo Lapa Palace 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 hotel too.

About the authors

Luxury travel journalists and SATW, NATJA and TMAC “Best Travel Blog” award winners, Janice and George Mucalov are the publishers of Sand In My Suitcase. Between them, they’ve traveled to all 7 continents. See About.

Find destination guides, global food-and-wine stories, luxury hotel reviews, articles on cultural explorations and soft adventure trips, cruise reviews, insanely useful travel tips and more!

Irene Levine

Friday 22nd of June 2018

What a beautiful property! I, too, love hotels that "ooze" wIth history~ The incredible tiles at the bottom of the pool sure provide a sense of place~

Janice and George

Friday 22nd of June 2018

When you're in an historic city, staying in an historic hotel just adds to the whole experience :-).