Before I went to Lisbon, my goal in life was to live in a hotel. After going to Lisbon, my goal is to specifically live at The Lumiares or The Vintage - sister hotels that each have their own distinctive vibe and absolutely make you feel like the the most special person in all of Portugal! That really is the first thing I have to note - the staff at both hotels were unbelievable. So kind and welcoming, there are a lot of beautiful hotels in the world - but I have never come across a hotel staff who were collectively so gracious and lovely. I mean, from my Instagram Stories and Lisbon blog posts, you know that Delta just didn't send my bag to Lisbon for 2 days. Although it was stressful, I didn't have to worry about it once. The brilliant concierge at The Lumiares called after my bag until it arrived, doing everything he could to assure it would get to me. At The Vintage, they had a delightful birthday cake made for me and delivered it to my room when I was finally well enough to enjoy it. This trip could have easily been a disaster because of the bad luck that seemed to plague it, but it was my experience at both hotels that made me want to not give up and still see Lisbon - a city that has my heart 100% now!
When you're across the world and your trip is kind of falling apart, all you want it is home and that how the apartment we stayed in at The Lumiares felt - granted, a much more chic apartment than one I've ever had! Once we got over the shock of having this two bedroom two bath spacious gem all to ourselves in Lisbon, Fallon and I both decided immediately that we needed to recreate this aesthetic in our homes. Its a mix of bohemian flair colorfully coordinated with a touch of palatial elegance - which makes sense, because it is a former palace! Do you have any idea how hard it is to not immediately jump into a pristine, freshly-made bed when your off of 16 hours of traveling - especially one that looks that cozy? When we finally decompressed for the night, showered with the yummiest citrus-scented Banho goodies (the robes and towels are A1 + a waterfall showerhead is always best), and ordered in two Lumi Burgers from room service - it was finally time to test out that bed I had been thinking about all afternoon and it did NOT disappoint. I think I went on to sleep for a solid 12 hours. Although the hotel is situated in the heart of the bustling Bairro Alto, it was such a quiet and peaceful sleep. In fact, it rained our first night so I was out like a light, The apartment also had everything we would need to cook, including a stove that only heated recognized cookware - literally you can't even burn your own hand, flatware, mugs, plates, glasses, you name it. It's the perfect hotel if you prefer to do some grocery shopping and make your meals instead of eating out. Also, the mini-bar is complimentary. Do I even need to say more? Beers, wines, sodas, water - didn't I tell you this hotel will make you feel absolutely special?
On our second evening, we ventured up to the Lumi Rooftop for dinner with some insane views of Lisbon - from my beloved Alfama to the Rio Tejo. If that isn't enough, the hotel sits opposite one of Lisbon's most beautiful terraces - Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara. The day we went, there was a vibrant market scene with live band playing...I'm pretty sure it was Stevie Wonder. We didn't try the adorable Mercado cafe downstairs because we're room services babes, but I've never met a rooftop I didn't like. Between a bottle of Portuguese wine, Goat Cheese Pastry, Alheira (think boudin) Balls, Scarlett Shrimp Linguini, and another outstanding Lumi Burger over the course of a 3 hour meal, it was a good thing we were walking 2-4 miles every day or they would have had to roll us back to America.
The Vintage is vacation and hotel and life goals! While The Lumiares sports a bohemian airy elegance, The Vinatge is sumptuous. Sitting atop a slope that sends you down to some of the most fashionable shopping in Lisbon (I did go to Louis, but only to look!), this hotel has a charming buttery yellow exterior that houses rooms individually done in a rainbow of moody shades. The whole vibe fits perfectly with the name - there is a retro feel to the hotel from the romatically lit halls to the color palettes used for the rooms - from midnight blue to mint green to dusty pink. It's the kind of hotel you could imagine a 1960s movie star like Audrey Hepburn or Sophia Loren would frequent, closing the heavy curtains when she wanted to escape from the world or leaning over the quaint balcony when deciding to give the paparazzi a few glamorous shots.
I don't know if anything could have made me happier on this trip than a pink hotel room, and not any shade of pink - but the shade that is quickly washing out of my hair. I had rose gold hair, rose gold luggage, and not a rose gold room that was the most perfect place to wake up on my 32nd birthday. On of my favorite features of the room was that their were small floor lights that illuminated my path whether I was walking the (again stocked and complimentary!) minibar, the walk in waterfall shower, or the private bathroom with bidet. Honestly, can we get on the bidet movement in America? We deserve better. Our stay at The Vintage was topped off with a night at the spa - I can still feel the rush or warm fragrant air when you step off of the elevators and into the luxurious scene. I opted for a facial because my skin was a WRECK from dry airplane air and no luggage stress. Next time - I'm taking one of each service and just setting up for the night in the eucalyptus steam room and dry sauna. There's also a gym with 24 hour access, which looked just wonderful but climbing the 7 hills was my cardio that week. Like it's sister hotel, The Vintage has a rooftop with sweeping views of Lisbon as well and local eats that more than make up for the steep hills and endless walks in the city. Also, probably the best complimentart breakfast ever. Ripe kiwis, fresh juices, made to order eggs, cheese, Portuguese ham, and pastel de nata! With two hotels like these, who needs to come home?
Writing this blog post is the first break I've taking from Lisbon apartment hunting all day. I have fallen in love with plenty of other cities before, but Lisbon is an obsession. This magical ancient city, splayed over 7 sprawling hills, is the capital of Portugal and #1 in my heart. Whenever I travel, I'm kind of test-driving a city to see if it's the place I would like to call home in the future. Well, everyone else go home! Sorry London, I'll never forget you Stockholm - but Lisbon wins. It is the perfect intersection of a modern and ancient world. I think its pretty groovy that one 2 mile walk or ride finds you in either a luxurious shopping oasis or strolling the streets of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Europe.
We spent 7 full days in Lisbon (though technically 5 because Delta decided to not send my luggage the first or second day and I was deathly ill on my actual birthday), but even with 7 days - there's so much to see and do in Lisbon that you can't get to it all. Which is fine, right? We should all take the pressure out of traveling and feeling like we have to get the best pictures for Instagram or that our trip wasn't worth it because we didn't see the #1 tourist attraction. Paris doesn't start and end with the Eiffel Tower, so they say. Or I just made that up - either way. I spent most of my time in Alfama, because that's what called to me. My travel style is SUPER laid-back. There's no schedule and no mandatory stops and no timetables we must follow. I will always prefer to meander around a city for hours, then take a walking tour with a rag tag group of fanny-pack toting tourist (although Fendi belt bags are accepted). I'll never be a native local, but the goal is to experience each destination like one.
We spent our first two nights in Lisbon at The Lumiares Hotel & Spa, which resides in the heart of Bairro Alto. It's so high up at the tippy-top of a hill that you feel like you can see all of Lisbon when you exit the glamorously retro entryway and find yourself on one of Lisbon's cobblestone streets. Whew, the cobblestone! Here's a warning - anyone versed in traveling through Europe knows you're going to tangle with cobblestone here and there but it's EVERYWHERE in Lisbon. The term "walking shoes" was invented for this city. Trust me, pack your Instagram shoes and be prepared to carry them or invest in some cute sneakers like I did from Lulus! These espadrille sneakers are so comfortable, just get some no-show socks so you're not rubbing your ankle raw like I did since I forgot to pack any.
Since we were so high up in Bairro Alto, we just decided to walk down towards the river we could see in the distance. There's so many cinematic alleyways, amazing shopping, and good places to pop in for a snack in the roughly 2 mile walk, you don't even notice it go by. You could honestly trick yourself into getting into amazing shape in Lisbon - between all the steep hill climbing and walking that couldn't feel less like a chores. For everyone not interested, or with the mobility, to deal with hills and cobblestone streets, Uber is cheap, plentiful, and the drivers were all so kind and professional. I don't take Uber in the US, but swear by it in Lisbon.
Our "let's just walk to the water over there" plan lead us to the beautiful Praça do Comércio square - and then we got rained on immediately. However, that lead to a rainbow right after and if that isn't a sign you're in the right place, I don't know what is. The square is anchored by an archway, which sits directly across from the Rio Tejo - the water we originally spotted (I thought it was the ocean somehow). It's a wonderful place to spend a first day in Lisbon - you knock out some impressive sightseeing and photo opps along they way.
From the top of Bairro Alto, I first spotted Alfama. Well, I spotted what I thought was a castle and some pastel houses with brick orange roofs and of course was like - I need to go there RIGHT NOW. We had to wait a couple of more days (see: no luggage and death's door) but when we finally took the Uber up to the miradouros (terraces all over Lisbon to view the city) in Alfama from our second hotel The Vintage Lisbon, that was the moment it felt like a home. No pictures and no videos can do it justice, but the endless views that are accessible from Miradouro Das Portas Do Sol and Miradouro de Santa Luzia were the most unreal I have ever seen. I remember I kept thinking...this is just free? No one is charging me to be on this terrace where I can soak up this insane view for as long as I want? Seems fake, but okay! That's what I love about Lisbon, the welcoming vibe. Not only are you wanted there, but the city as literally made it easy for you to see the best of Lisboa.
Even though Miradouro Das Portas Do Sol is a pretty good starting point in Alfama, past the Se Cathedral and higher up than Miradouro de Santa Luzia, you still need to be prepared to CLIMB into the heart of Alfama - whether your after an ancient castle or just charming outdoor cafes where you can get Portuguese pastries and watch cute Portuguese pups chase after pigeons and tourists alike. I'm admittedly not the best at giving out city guides, because we never set out with a plan in mind. Just plop us in a neightborhood, and we decided at every street corner where to turn next. My suggestion for Lisbon if when you see a landmark, make your way to it. When all else fails, just follow a group of people with cameras and maps in hand.
You may think I took all of my pictures in Alfama, but not quite! If the oldest neighboorhood in Lisbon stole my heart, Belém sealed the deal. And not just because someone came up to me and asked if I was an influencer there! Partly that, though. Due to the days we lost, we had to decide between Sintra and Belém. While Sintra looks like a fairytale in our modern world, it also seemed like a bit bothersome to get to and I wasn't in a mood to fight crowds after Mercury in Retrograde had been fighting me all week. So Belem Tower it was and it did not disappoint. In fact, it totally exceeded expectations. You always see pictures of the stoic tower, backlit by a shimmering sunset. What you don't see is the huge park directly opposite from the tower, a marina filled to the brim with yachts, and adorable restaurants dotting the shore. It's not this isolated behemoth, but rather the centerpiece in an area where you could easily spend an entire day relaxing and soaking up the mild March sun.
So anyway, that's why I'm moving to Lisbon. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.