We started 2020 with somewhat of a bang enjoying a Fado show, watching New Year’s fireworks at Praça do Comércio and a stay at a Palace. Tucked away in the city’s diplomatic quarter, Lapa Palace is a luxurious palace nested on one of Lisbon’s seven hilltops overlooking the Tagus River. This is where you want to stay in Lisbon if you want an authentic stay away from the touristy area.
The Lapa Palace Hotel History
Built in the 19th-century, the Lapa Palace is located in the Lapa Quarter, a prestigious area where embassies and consulates from all over the world can be found here. Lapa means Moorish rock, based on the original name “Lapa das Mouras”. After the earthquake in 1755, the first Baron of Porto Covo, Jacinto Fernandes Bandeira, built his house in S. Domingos Street, starting the creation of the Lapa district.
In 1870, the succeeding Viscount built for one of his sons a beautiful house in the Lapa District. Very disappointed that his son didn’t like it, the house was later sold to the Count of Valenças, who in 1877 decided to transform it into a Palace. Today there is a lavish suite in his name on the 5th floor.
The Palace remained a family house until 1988, when the family of the Count sold it to the Simões de Almeida family, who turned it into a hotel, Hotel da Lapa but preserved a lot of the palace. Many of the characters portrayed in the wall paintings are aristocrats of the Lisbon high life. Back in the day, Louis XV room used to be the ladies’ boudoir where the ladies would socialize modestly, following the philosophy of the Louis XV style.
An Aristocratic Location
Lisbon has many distinct neighborhoods that vary in atmosphere and activity. Most of the major sights are clustered in the city center and a few Lisbon attractions further out, where to stay in Lisbon is a common dilemma. The city itself is large but the center is walkable, and there are good transport links between the districts.
Most of the best hotels are in Chiado or Avenida da Liberdade, but Lapa sits on the quieter side of Lisbon away from the hustle and bustle. The Olissippo Lapa Palace hotel has a huge garden and landscaped area and looks on to the Tagus River.
Did you know? The legend goes that Lisbon was founded and named by Ulysses (Odysseus) as Olissopo (Ulissipo), which has its origins in the Phoenician words “Allis Ubbo”, meaning “enchanting port”.
The hotel is only 20-30 minutes away from the airport and 5 minutes from the lively docks area. A 5 to 10 minute taxi ride away to all the Lisbon attractions.
Rooms and Suites at the Lapa Palace
The Lapa Palace Hotel is divided into three different sections, Palace wing, Garden wing and Villa Lapa with a total of about 100 rooms. The rooms and suites of the new wing(where we stayed) have been redecorated with Portuguese style fabrics and furniture and nice decorations. Rooms are decorated in different styles of Art deco, Colonial, Algarvian and Neo-Classic. We had two interconnecting rooms, a lovely balcony with views overlooking the garden area.
Rooms at the Lapa Palace feature beautiful Portuguese Vista Alegre porcelain and Loccitane toiletries.
A Lovely Breakfast & Tea Service
We started our mornings at the Lapa Restaurant with a lovely breakfast before venturing out to explore Lisbon. Rio Tejo Bar has a Tea Menu (during Winter) from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM, offering a variety of 30 different types of tea selected from countries such as India, China, Vietnam and Japan.
They do have a 24 hour room service if you want to get some food late in the night.
New Years Eve Fireworks at Praça Do Comércio (Terreiro Do Paco)
New Year’s Eve just wouldn’t be the same without fireworks, and there are several places to watch the different displays in Lisbon. But the biggest and most popular party and fireworks display happen at Praça do Comércio (Terreiro Do Paco). It is a big square in the center of Lisbon. Entry is free, and there was live music from around 10 pm. Mostly Portuguese bands and singers were performing but it was fun. As midnight approaches, everyone starts getting their bottles of espumante (Portuguese fizz) and cups ready and then the countdown happens.
Best Experience: Fado Show at Café Luso
The melancholic music of fado has been around for centuries. Born in a working-class Lisbon neighborhood, songs recall broken hearts, unfulfilled dreams and the lost days of youth. Despite its years, fado remains a living art, heard in tiny family-run restaurants, like Café Luso and elegant music halls alike. A lone, powerful voice coupled with the Portuguese guitarra are all the tools needed to bring listeners to tears. In fado, raw emotion often conveys more than what lyrics can. Even non-Portuguese speakers will find themselves moved by great fadistas.
The Lapa Palace’s quiet location, gorgeous panoramic river views, friendly service make it a great place to stay in Lisbon for families. This is one of the more unique luxury hotels in the Lisbon area and I’m sure you will love your stay just like we did!
See Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel website for rates and room details.
4 Rua do Pau de Bandeira, 1249-021 Lisboa
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