The five-star Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel sits in the very heart of Lisbon’s historic Alfama district.

As one of Europe’s oldest capitals, Lisbon’s long history can be traced as far back as 1200 BC – the Phoenician’s first named her Allis Ubbo or ‘Safe Harbour’, which became Olisipo when the Romans arrived. Although the city has expanded over the centuries, Alfama retains a feel of old Lisbon, sitting on the same twisting footprint of jumbled streets and narrow alleyways that the early occupiers created.

The Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel isn’t Phoenician, but this former 15th century palace does incorporate the preserved remains of the Roman villa which once occupied the same footprint. At the time the palace was constructed, Portugal was rushing headlong into its ‘Age of Discoveries’, when the Infante Dom Henrique and his pioneering fleets were charting the first sea routes from Europe, around the Cape of Good Hope, to India and beyond. The influx of trade saw Portugal blossom both culturally and economically, and Lisbon quickly became the most important (and richest) capital of medieval Europe.

The Santiago de Alfama opened its doors in 2015, following a long and careful renovation which sort to preserve the original and historically-significant architectural features. The hotel’s medieval roots are on display in the shared guest lounge, and in the Santiago de Alfama’s excellent bar and bistro: affectionally known as Audrey’s, where breakfast is served both indoors and out. However, even the grandest palaces of medieval Lisbon wouldn’t have been comfortable by modern boutique hotel standards. The nineteen bedrooms are thoroughly 21st century – the layout of each room is different, as dictated by age of the building, but they all share the same elegant, light décor, polished cedar floors and smooth panelled ceilings.

For anyone looking to explore Lisbon on foot, the Castelo de Sao Jorge, the Se Cathedral and the Museu do Fado are all within easy walking distance, as is the miradouro de Santa Luzia with its celebrated view across the Tagus River. However, the steep gradient of Alfama’s streets aren’t to everyone’s tastes – if you have mobility issues, you might prefer to stay on more level ground in downtown Baixa.


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