Authentic 1950s design elements, an impressive Portuguese art collection, and a rooftop running track are standouts at this five-star hotel in the City of Seven Hills
Why stay here?
Four Seasons’ signature refined approach to hospitality is evident at this 282-key hotel in Lisbon, which is set in front of Eduardo VII Park, 15 minutes from the city centre. The Ritz hotel was built in 1959 and is one of the city’s most iconic modernist buildings. Inherently luxurious, its façades, interior walls, and floors are clad with more than 40,000 square metres of rare marble, with an array of artworks by renowned Portuguese artists contributing to its heritage.
Design and sustainability notes
Porto-based Oitoemponto architecture studio was enlisted to refurbish the guest rooms and suites, which was undertaken to carefully integrate the hotel’s original design. “It was fascinating to delve into the history of the Hotel — and realise that its essence hasn’t changed much in 60 years,” said studio co-founder, Artur Miranda, at the time of the new-look accommodations’ unveiling in 2021. “Not only is it an emblematic architectural piece of 1950s Portugal, it also remains at the creative forefront of classic meets cutting-edge.”
Public spaces are classic in a Louis XVI style — the original vision of acclaimed French interior designer, Henri Samuel. The grandiose Almada Negreiros Lobby Lounge contains a huge floral installation, with thick carpeting, furnishings in contrasting shades of yellow and dark green, and ornate chandeliers that hang from high ceilings.
Upstairs, as I step out of the elevator into the wide hallways that lead to my room, there’s a Mad Men aesthetic with tones of beige, teak wood with gold detailing, and textured white mid-century armchairs.
The outdoor swimming pool and bar continue this mid-century theme. Envisioned by OPENBOOK Architecture, the curved shape of the pool was inspired by initial models of the hotel, while the circular bar complements the pool’s organic lines. Pink sun umbrellas, sun loungers, and cabanas are surrounded by leafy landscaping designed as a continuity of the adjacent park.
Art appreciators will likely enjoy perusing the sizeable canvases throughout the hotel, representing one of the country’s largest privately owned collections of mid-20th Century Portuguese art, with works from Almada Negreiros, Carlos Botelho, and Pedro Leitão, among others.
Sustainability efforts include the elimination of single-use plastic water bottles and straws, energy-efficient room controls, and excess heat from refrigeration recovered and rechannelled to heat the swimming pool.
In the room
I check into a Deluxe Park View room, a spacious accommodation at 49m2 with views over leafy Eduardo VII Park, the hotel gardens, and the city — which I make sure to take in with a port and tonic from my private terrace. Recently renovated, the room oozes a sophisticated feel with velvety teal fabrics, dark lacquered wood, mirror accents, and Art Deco-style furnishings. The marble bathroom has a bathtub and separate shower, with terry-cotton robes, slippers, and local products in large refillable bottles.
The hotel has two eateries and two bars, with dining overseen by executive chef Pascal Meynard. Chef de Cuisine Pedro Pena Bastos oversees Portuguese fine-dining menus at Michelin-starred Cura.
Light peach-coloured tablecloths, shining silverware, and towering floral installations set the elegant breakfast scene at Varanda restaurant. An impressive buffet selection includes breads, pastries, cold meats and cheeses, eggs made-to-order, chia pudding, and fresh fruit, among other specialties.
The star event at Varanda, however, is the weekend brunch from 12:30–4:00pm. Sitting down at an outside table to soak up the Lisbon sunshine, I’m served fresh focaccia with olive oil and tapenade along with a glass of sparkling wine. I then make my way around the brunch stations — the phrase ‘your eyes are bigger than your stomach’ comes to mind.
The setup almost appears like an upscale food market before me. There’s a barbecue station lined with fresh seafood, cooked-to-order (I choose some octopus, but the salmon and tuna steaks are tempting); a sushi station with colourful sashimi, nigiri, and maki; a green-and-white striped ice-cream cart serving fresh scoops; a menu of made-to-order classics like waffles and eggs Benedict; and a central buffet teeming with oysters, ceviche, marinated seafood, pastries, cakes, and ingredients to construct your own salad or poke bowl.
Spa and wellness
A calming lower-ground-floor spa features an 18-metre indoor lap pool, four treatment rooms, a eucalyptus-scented sauna and a crushed ice fountain.
The standout, though, is the rooftop running track on the 10th floor, which, with 360-degree views of the city, should appeal even to those who haven’t packed their trainers. Venture up just before sunset to catch golden hour scenes of Lisbon’s vibrant buildings.
A highlight of my stay is a private sightseeing tour through Lisbon’s labyrinthine, inclined streets by vintage moto-sidecar, a special extra that can be arranged through the hotel.
Perched in a leather-seated sidecar, and steered by a burgundy-hued 1940s motorcycle, this is such a fun way to get acquainted with the city. My guides are extremely informative and conscientious, always checking in to ensure I feel comfortable (I am loving it), reciting some of Lisbon’s tumultuous yet fascinating history, and pointing out some of the most photogenic landmarks along the way.
The special touches
Finding a cleaning cloth for my spectacles, left by housekeeping in my bathroom, is a nice touch. An illustrated card on my bedside table features a local attraction, the Hill of St. Vincent, and the day’s weather forecast.
From €967 (about AUD$1,625) per night.